Bio-Identical Hormones

Dr. Scumpia is uniquely positioned in the community to assess and treat patients with Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BioHRT). Dr. Scumpia, a board-certified endocrinologist with more than 20 years of experience, believes that BioHRT is a vital method of replacing deficient hormones.

In recent years, many physicians have started using Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BioHRT).  Patients need to understand the rules and wade through confusing medical terms while investigating whether BioHRT is right for them or not.

Here is information about BioHRT that you should discuss with your doctor:

  • “Bio-identical” does NOT necessarily mean “human” identical. Any source of the hormone for its production is called “bio-identical,” regardless of origin, whether from plants (yams) or animals (mares or pigs).  As long as it is not synthetic, it is called biological. Although some hormones may be bio-identical from biological sources, they may not be considered human identical.
  • For example, some of the compounding estrogens will contain estradiol, estrone and estriol. However, only estradiol seems to have the majority of the action in women, whereas estrone and estriol are produced by the placenta only during pregnancy. When treated with these types of compounds, it is hard to tell if the patient is receiving normal levels since we do not have databases of where these hormones should be.
  • It may seem that BioHRT does not cause the same harm that synthetic hormones might. However, there is no proof to such a statement. Hormones attach to receptors, which results in a cascade of events that any hormone will trigger. We do not think that the receptors differentiate between different compounds as long as the structure of the agent is the same. Therefore, it is wrong to assume that the body of evidence gathered by the synthetic preparation studies will not apply to BioHRT. This logic goes both ways: though we assume that it does all the good things the synthetic hormone will produce, the scientific community does not currently have proof that BioHRT will not cause the same complications. Until further research is conducted, it is important for your doctor to advise you that you may expect the same complications (and maybe equivalent or better outcomes).
  • A good example is the use of Armour thyroid for the treatment of low thyroid (hypothyroidism). It may be beneficial for some people. The American Thyroid Association and the American College of Endocrinology have expressed concerns about the fact that pigs (the source for Armour thyroid) have a different ratio of thyroid hormones compared to humans.  Though Armour thyroid is a bio-identical hormone, it is not human identical. Because of the high ratio of T3 to T4, it may cause problems with dose adjustment and T3 levels. This may be especially important in elderly people and pregnant women.

Dr. Scumpia, an expert in hormone replacement, will discuss these aspects and guide the patient to make the best decision for them. Patients should take normal precautions for treatment and follow treatment protocol.  This form of therapy (whether bio-identical or human identical), may help patients achieve optimal health.