Bioidentical hormone therapy: a panacea that lacks supportive evidence

Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2008 Aug;20(4):400-7. doi: 10.1097/GCO.0b013e3283081ae9.


Purpose of review: In the practice of 'bioidentical hormone therapy', it is our belief that pharmacists are compounding bioidentical hormone therapy with the best intentions. These pharmacists are, however, ill informed regarding the lack of scientific underpinning associated with the efficacy and safety of the practice of bioidentical hormone therapy. It is the purpose of this review to systematically examine the scientific rigor of the arguments posed by the proponents of bioidentical hormone therapy, and to differentiate the practice of bioidentical hormone therapy from the legitimate practice of pharmacy compounding.

Recent findings: Most medical organizations have in essence refuted the bioidentical hormone therapy claims as unsubstantiated. The profession of pharmacy needs to address this issue in an authoritarian, scientific way, outside of the compounding issue.

Summary: Bioidentical or natural hormones are expected to have similar efficacy and safety profiles as the commercially available hormonal therapies that have been studied in clinical trials, regardless of whether the active principle hormones are compounded by individual pharmacies or manufactured by large companies. Estriol is a weak estrogen that is not Food and Drug Administration approved for use as a prescription drug in the United States; thus, clinical trials are necessary to demonstrate the efficacy and safety profile for estriol. Further, supplementary clinical trials are necessary to determine whether there are efficacy or safety differences between natural progesterone and synthetic progestin, as studies to date are inconclusive.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Drug Approval
  • Drug Compounding / adverse effects
  • Drug Compounding / standards*
  • Estriol / adverse effects
  • Estriol / standards
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy / adverse effects*
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy / standards
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Progestins / adverse effects*
  • Progestins / standards
  • United States


  • Progestins
  • Estriol