Dr. Caroline Turek graduated from the University of Waterloo with an Honours Bachelor of Science in Health Studies. From here, she went on to complete her Medical Degree at the University of Toronto in 1990. Dr. Turek practiced integrative family medicine in the Durham Region for 25 years. She has a special interest in women's hormone health and has attended numerous training conferences on bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). Over the past 20 years, Dr. Turek has had great success in treating varied women's hormonal issues including menopausal symptoms, thyroid, menstrual difficulties, PMS, and varied nutritional deficiencies.

What is Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy?

Q. My doctor said there is no safe hormonal replacement therapy? The Women's Health Study of 2002 has proven the use of synthetic hormones is not a healthy way to replace women's hormones. When all the available hormone studies were evaluated the conclusion was that taking synthetic hormone replacement caused adverse side effects, that could contribute to complications such as breast cancer and heart disease.

Q. Have there been any medical studies done on the safety and efficacy of bio-identical hormones? There are reputable published studies over a period of many decades confirming the safety of using bio-identical hormones. There is even some data available that suggests bio-identical hormonal replacement may offer some cardiovascular protection. These materials are available on request.

Q. What are bio-identical hormones and where do they come from? Natural source bio-identical hormones are made from botanical plants such as soy and yams. The human body cannot convert soy or yams directly into natural hormones, so the natural plants must be pharmaceutically processed to produce natural bio-identical progesterone and Bi-Est and Tri-Est, the estrogens. These final products are either rubbed on the skin or swallowed by the patient.

Q. I've read that hormone replacement therapy mimics the body's natural hormones but doesn't really replace them like bio-identical hormones do. What's the difference? When synthetic hormones flood the receptor sites they do not differentiate the hormone receptor sites and also attach to the receptor sites of many other steroid hormone receptors. As is often the case in nature, more is not always better. When the other receptor sites are flooded they often shut down their function and are no longer able to perform normally. You now have the potential for unwanted chemical alterations that lead to adverse symptoms. The difference with bio-identical hormones is they are identified by the human body as natural. The hormone is adopted and processed by the receptors with no harmful by-products.

Q. Will bio-identical hormones help with symptoms like hot flashes, sleepless nights and memory problems? Natural progesterone is very effective in the treatment of hot flashes. Many women respond positively to progesterone treatment alone, and do not require any other bio-identical replacement such as estrogen. Bio-identical hormones can also improve insomnia. The progesterone transdermal cream used in the evening has a mild sedative effect. We have found that patients report improved memory with the use of bio-identical hormones as lubrication of brain synapses seems to allow quicker cognition, alleviating this common symptom occurring with menopause and aging.

Q. How can bio-identical hormones help fight the symptoms of aging? Bio-identical natural hormones are anti-inflammatory and therefore anti-aging by the nature of their action. Estrogen and progesterone, along with many other hormones, have a role in cell regeneration. Healthy hormonal balance = healthy cellular activity, inside and out.