Background: We aimed to assess the frequency of and experiences with use of bioidentical compounded hormone therapy (BCH) by women seen at an academic women's health clinic and menopause center. Methods: Women seeking consultation for menopausal concerns from October 2005 to October 2006 were given a 19-item survey about their experiences with BCH and conventional hormone therapy (CHT). Results: Of 208 consecutive patients invited to take the survey, 184 consented and responded. Thirty-seven (20%) reported ever use of BCH, and 25 (14%) reported current use of BCH; 59% of BCH preparations used included androgens. Twenty-four of 31 BCH users (77%) believed BCH was safer than CHT. Menopausal symptoms leading to use of hormones were similar between BCH and CHT users. Symptom relief with use of CHT and BCH was similar, but relief of sexual symptoms was reported significantly more frequently by BCH than CHT users (78% vs 33%, p < 0.001). Conclusions: Women lacked knowledge of safety concerns with BCH, reporting a belief that it was safer than CHT. Menopausal symptoms prompting BCH and CHT use were similar, but sexual symptoms were more frequently relieved by BCH, possibly because of the inclusion of androgens. Visits to health care providers for menopausal symptoms are ideal for physicians to educate women that in the absence of data to the contrary, BCH should be considered to have the same risks as CHT. Our findings of reported improvements in sexual symptoms among women using BCH merit further evaluation, with better identification of constituents in the products.
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