The change in hormonal milieu associated with perimenopause and menopause can lead to a variety of symptoms that can affect a woman's quality of life. Postmenopausal hormone therapy (HT) is an effective, well-tolerated treatment for these symptoms. However, combined HT consisting of conjugated equine estrogen and medroxyprogesterone acetate has been associated with an increased number of health risks when compared with conjugated equine estrogen alone or placebo. As a result, some women are turning to alternative hormonal formulations known as compounded bioidentical HT because they perceive them to be a safer alternative. This article defines compounded bioidentical HT and explores the similarities and differences between it and US Food and Drug Administration-approved HT. We will examine the major claims made by proponents of compounded bioidentical HT and recommend strategies for management of patients who request bioidentical HT from physicians.
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