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What Is KirklandHormone Replacement Therapy?
HRT (also known as hormone therapy, menopausal hormone therapy, and estrogen replacement therapy) uses female hormones — estrogen and progesterone — to treat common symptoms of menopause and aging. Doctors can prescribe it during or after menopause.
After your period stops, your hormone levels fall, causing uncomfortable symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness, and sometimes conditions like osteoporosis. Kirkland HRT replaces hormones your body no longer makes. It’s the most effective treatment for menopause symptoms.
Bioidentical Hormones - What Are They?
The side effects of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) fall into two categories. First are the immediate side effects, such as headaches, nausea and vomiting and many others. Not all women will experience such side effects, and generally speaking these side effects resolve themselves once the HRT is stopped. Then there are long term risks such as increased risk of breast cancer (and other risks too). These longer term consequences of HRT are not reversible and in some cases are lethal. We'll start by answering the question "What is hormone replacement therapy?" Then we'll look at the advantages of bioidentical hormones, and finally at the side effects and risks associated with hormone replacement therapy.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Now let's look at hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Actually HRT is no longer routinely recommended for relief of menopausal complaints. It's too risky.
For a long time, doctor's thought that HRT was a cure all. Then some major studies, particularly the Women's Health Initiative revealed the risks associated with HRT. But before looking at the risks of HRT, let's make sure that we understand what it is.
The name "hormone replacement therapy" implies that HRT is replacing the estrogen and progesterone lost. It is, but not with the same hormones that our body makes. So its not replacing apples with apples. It's more like replacing apples with watermelons, and that's the main reason for the risks associated with HRT.
Our body is like a well-constructed machine, with every part having a multitude of functions. The human body acts properly because of some important hormones that our endocrine system produces. However, as we begin to age, these hormones become insufficient, thus creating an imbalance and leading our body not to function properly. Hormone deficiencies or hormonal imbalance is one of the major problems both men and women experience as they enter midlife. With extensive research, scientists have come up to a solution for hormonal imbalance called Hormone Replacement Therapy. An almost similar treatment is the Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy, which uses hormones that are entirely identical in chemical structure to those found in the human body.
Many women who are entering their middle years and going into menopause, or perimenopause as it's called, are confused about the hype surrounding something called HRT. HRT is an acronym for Hormone Replacement Therapy, and it's a therapy intended to treat or ease the annoying side effects of menopause by replacing the lost hormones, i.e. estrogen and progesterone, and occasionally even, testosterone. Confused yet? Good. But keep reading, anyway, it will get better... hopefully.
A lot of the confusion has to do with the usage of words such as "Natural," "Synthetic" and "Bioidentical." We all think we know the meaning of natural and synthetic - natural is good, synthetic is bad and bioidentical just sounds scary.
"Natural" hormones are created within a biological organism, be it human, animal or plant matter. To be considered "natural," a hormone must share the same characteristics as its real-body counterpart, in terms of its make-up, shape and structure. But bear this in mind; a popularly prescribed hormone called "Premarin" is a natural estrogen hormone, because it's made from a biological organism. Unfortunately, that organism happens to be a horse. Now, it's been quite a while since Biology 101 class, but I don't recall that humans and equines share any biological qualities that are interchangeable.
"Bioidentical" hormones are made entirely in the lab, but they are identical or a clone to the hormones you produce naturally in your body, and they do the same thing. Now, the compounds could come from any source, but the bottom line is, when they enter your body, they do exactly what your body would have done, no more and no less.
A "synthetic" hormone in produced or made in the laboratory by means of a process known as synthesis. But, just because a hormone is synthetic doesn't mean that it's bad, provided that it does exactly what it's supposed to do, in the same way that the body does it. Because it does exactly what it's supposed to, it's actually quite "natural."
The real concern is the clever advertising directing you to choose one hormone over another. "Natural" implies better for you than "synthetic" or "bioidentical," but that may not be the case.
All of that didn't help much, did it? Good, because you should be ever cautious about what you put into your mouth in the form of a pill, or slap onto your body via a patch. Hormone replacement therapy can and does work, but don't let the media or the marketers influence your decision.
Menopause And Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy
Bioidentical hormones are often synthesized from plants, and processed to make them resemble, or become entirely identical to the hormones within our bodies. Bioidentical hormone preparations are often compounded by pharmacists, with respect to the quantity recommended by the doctor.
We have a conflict of interest here with the pharmaceutical industry, because they are unable to patent human hormones that are molecularly identical to actual substances in the body. Therefore everything that you hear about bioidentical hormones must be viewed with a skeptic eye, because of the pharmaceutical companies massive influence over the health industry.
These hormones are mainly used by females, to alleviate the signs and symptoms of menopause. A scientific study compared the usage of bioidentical progesterone cream to placebo, and learned that women using the cream experienced a massive decrease in symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats. The cream had no effect on bone mineral density though.
Bioidentical hormones are generally prescribed as a healthier replacement for regular hormone replacement therapy, which has been proven to have serious adverse effects. Many people have voiced their criticism about this kind of treatment because it hasn't been analyzed extensively enough in clinical studies.
However, some scientific studies have demonstrated that these hormones are indeed healthier and also bring less risk of adverse effects than the synthetic versions. This includes significantly less risk of blood clots as well as cancer, the two primary issues concerning conventional hormone replacement therapy.
It's imperative that you realize that these types of hormones haven't been studied as extensively as the standard, artificial ones. This is very understandable because the main sources of research funds are the drug companies, and they have absolutely no interest in studying a substance that can not be patented or marketed for massive price tags.
Unfortunately, because scientific studies are missing, it is not easy to find details about the side effects of bioidentical hormones in the literature, but it appears obvious how the side effects tend to be less severe than with regular hormone replacement therapy.
I'm not really thrilled about individuals playing around with the hormones in their bodies, because this might have unpredictable consequences. If the symptoms of menopause are leading to big problems in that case bioidentical hormones can be a safe alternative to standard treatment.
I would personally also suggest using as little of them as possible, for as brief a time as possible. Menopause is really a natural occurrence that happens with getting older, and even though treatment methods are possible, doesn't mean they're always the right thing to do.
Make sure that if you are undergoing any kind of hormonal treatment, to do it under supervision by a physician who has knowledge of these matters, hormones are nothing to play around with.
Patients interested in bioidentical hormone therapy are encouraged to speak with a medical professional regarding its benefits over traditional hormone replacement therapy techniques. Many clinics offer their patients a consultation in which they will discuss the treatment and will customize a treatment plan for each patient.
In conjunction with this therapy, a medical professional may recommend certain exercise and dietary programs to improve the symptoms of menopause or andropause. It is important that patients work with their physician in creating a specialized therapy program and develop healthy lifestyle practices that will be medically beneficial.
There has been a good deal of confusion and controversy surrounding this treatment in recent years and interested patients are encouraged to discuss the possible risks, benefits and alternatives associated with any treatment or procedure.
Male Hormone Replacement Therapy: Andropause
Often a clinic that specializes in "Hormone Replacement Therapy" is immediately regarded as an "estrogen" or "testosterone" clinic implying the patients are there for "sexual dysfunction". That simply is not the case if one is going to a "hormonal wellness clinic" or "science based HRT clinic". The reason for the reference by many to the sexual side is much of the discussion centers on what is known as male or female hormones related to sexual functions and sexual male/female characteristics. There are many more hormones than those two, and even those two may require the use of other hormones, specifically DHEA, to effectively assimilate those two hormones into our system properly.
My personal experience has been I go to my medical doctor, actually his experience/training is as an emergency room doctor, and Dr. Hummel analyzes a vast array of hormones and other chemicals to assess whether my body is meeting the minimum demands for hormones for me to live healthy. He looks at the typical blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, testosterone, thyroid function and many more. A baseline is established so the results of hormonal supplements, if needed, can be monitored and measured. If hormones or other medications, such as statins, is warranted then those are prescribed. Several weeks/months later new blood work is ordered to verify the underlying unhealthy pathologies are reversing and improving.