Bioidentical hormones have benefits and are very well tolerated. Yam cream is often touted as hormone therapy for the signs and symptoms of menopause, including night sweats, hot flashes, moodiness, and low libido; but this can be a bit misleading.
1. Yams contain a plant progesterone. More accurately, phytoprogesterone, there are no actual human progesterone in a product that only contains a yam source of progesterone.
2. Thus, a yam cream is not technically a bioidentical in the sense of bioidentical for humans, but it is a natural hormone in one sense, and that term bioidentical gets extended to these products by some people.
3. The term wild yam, is the common name for a plant that is more accurately called the Dioscorea villosa. It can be cultivated, and the creams are not typically made from plants foraged from the wild.
4. The yams also contain plant saponins which may be able to affect our ability to produce estrogen. In menopause, it’s not likely that a yam cream will help the production of estrogen from an ovary that has essentially run out of eggs and run out of the ability to produce estrogen. The creams made of yam sourced products have been shown in small studies to be very safe, but not more effective than placebo for the treatment of menopausal therapies.
5. Women on estrogen, who still have a uterus need protection from the estrogen so they do not develop uterine cancer. One confusing thing about yam or wild yam creams, that is a benefit of natural progesterone cream, that is also a safety concern: is that these yam creams do not contain a type of plant progesterone that is strong enough to protect the uterus against hormonal therapy with estrogens, even the estriol or estrones used in menopause that are weaker than estradiol. Progesterone made from yams can be both safe and effective.
6. In many cases testosterone therapy, usually with BioTE testosterone pellets can be a great solution to bioidentical hormone use, so we do suggest you have hormone testing if you have any symptoms of hormone imbalance and consider options for hormone optimization.