Does your hormone clinic make promises that hormone therapy will result in: losing weight, having great sex, being happy, or feeling like you're 25 again? Are you being asked to pay a yearly or monthly fee for your therapy rather than when you receive it? These types of situations should prompt particular caution. Let's review some other areas you should be aware of before choosing a hormone clinic or provider.
For example, if they have been running a cosmetic clinic, or a “medical weight loss” center, chances are, the clinician went to a weekend-type hormone course or they are using a computer program to determine the hormone dosing for them. The hormones are being added to the clinic to make money, period. But how will that cosmetic/weight loss person manage uterine bleeding if it happens? Do they have any background or training in Gynecology? Can they tell if a uterine biopsy is warranted? Can they do it, and can they interpret the results? Bleeding is only one of a number of complications that may happen. Hormones have some serious risks, and should be taken seriously. Hormones, particularly hormones in pellet form, should only be administered by Clinicians who are extremely experienced and qualified to provide them safely, and not by their "assistants".
If your clinician claims that the hormones he/she uses are made in a particular way, or they're better than any other hormones, then that doctor is not being honest. No hormone is unique or special. Hormone medications do not possess mystical powers. Hormone dosages may be specially made, but the hormones themselves are not. There are only a handful of compounding pharmacies that are legally allowed to make pellets and distribute them to Clinicians. So, that means all pellets are coming from the same compounding entities, regardless if they have a logo or a brand name on the packaging.
If an office claims that their hormones are safe, or safer than other hormones, then they are not telling the truth. For many people, the careful use of hormone therapy is safe, for a season of life. Generally speaking, however, a hormone is a hormone. If there's a reason a woman should not use estrogen, for example, based on her individual risk factors, then no estrogen is safe for her. It doesn’t matter if the estrogen is made by a pharmaceutical company, or compounded, or labeled “bioidentical.”
An exception to this is Progesterone. The use of synthetic/artificial Progestins in menopause has been clearly linked to increased rates of breast cancer, while natural Progesterone has no proven link. It must be noted, however, that some breast cancers are Progesterone-receptor positive, and women with these cancers should not use Progesterone at all.
Finally, how does the clinic respond if a patient has a complication or a problem with hormone therapy? Is the Clinician responsive to the patient’s concern, or is the patient just “blown off?” Can the patient actually get an appointment? Are they offered a clinical explanation for what is happening? Are any further tests or procedures warranted? There are some very common challenges that can happen with hormone therapy. Patients must have their concerns addressed, and they must be assured that any serious complication would be detected.