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Wilmington North Carolina HRT Specialists 

Bioidentical hormone therapy, when used for the first time, has potential side effects as the body is not used to the new level of hormones. Most of these side effects are also linked to dosage, and it is advisable as your hormones improve, you adjust and in the case of further changes you should contact your physician. One should not confuse side effects with risks common to those who take hormones especially hormone therapy (HT). In older women, the consistent use of hormone therapy can lead to heart diseases and breast cancer while in other people mainly in a youthful state; risks are blood clots, stroke, and gallbladder disease. Below are common side effects of using bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.

Menopausal Hormone Therapy

• There is increased aggressiveness in both men and women during the first time of using bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, but problems are resolved as levels become balanced

• There are side effects in women related to breast tenderness, cramping, bloating, and spotting in the body. This side effect is tied to the treatment of hormone estrogen, but it is resolved as hormones are balanced

• Patients commonly complain of itching and redness at the injections, but symptoms disappear as the body adjusts to treatment.

HRT Vs Natural - And the Winner Is?

Estrogen Replacement

The economics of bioidentical hormones

Why doesn't modern medicine use bioidentical hormones (hormones identical to what our body makes) to "replace" what is missing? It's sad to say, but the main reason is that there is no money in it.

Pharmaceutical companies can only patent what they invent in a laboratory. They are not able to patent what Nature makes. And its only through holding a patent on a drug that they can mark up the price enough to make a good profit.

(The mark up on drugs like Premarin and Prempro is very high, with mark up on many drugs upwards of 10,000%. Premarin is available in Europe for $8.95/100, in Canada for $22.46/100 in the United States for $55.42. Price variations for Prempro are $5.75/28 in Europe, $14.33/28 in Canada and $31.09/28 in the United States). These price variations begin to reveal the profit margins pharmaceutical companies have with these drugs. They are really a cash cow for these companies.

Hot flashes or flushes are described as a sudden feeling of warmth or heat within the body and often with associated sweating. A hot flash can be an intense feeling of heat usually in the upper half of the body but can be experienced in the lower half as well.

The exact cause of hot flashes isn't known but they do know that factors affecting the regulatory area of the brain, the hypothalamus, regulates body temperature. When the brain senses an increase in body temperature it will release chemicals which cause the blood vessels in the skin to dilate in an attempt to release the heat. It is said that estrogen and testosterone allow the body to tolerate changes in core body temperature, therefore, as these hormones decrease in peri-menopause and menopause so does your body's ability to tolerate increased heat.

In my opinion this is only part of the problem. I believe it is more of an imbalance in the hormone family than just a decrease in estrogen and testosterone. In some women, when estrogen is balanced with progesterone, hot flashes decrease or stop altogether. Knowing what is out of balance will help you determine why you have hot flashes in the first place. Hot flashes are not normal, they are one of your body's very intelligent ways of communicating a larger problem.

Lifestyle, stress and dietary habits play a huge role in the occurrence and frequency of hot flashes and night sweats. Known hot flash triggers are:

Caffeine

Physical, Emotional & Dietary Stress

Alcohol

Nicotine

Over the Counter Medications

Prescribed Medications

Obesity

Spices

Physical Inactivity

Heat

Know what your triggers are and attempt to avoid them as much as possible. Avoid closed, hot rooms and lower the temperature in your surroundings. Dress in layers and do not wear synthetic clothing as they trap the sweat. Cotton clothing allows your skin to breath. Increase your exercise routine to 30 minutes per day and get sound, quality sleep. Decreasing stress is a no-brainer but not so easy to do. Practice stress reducing techniques and mindfulness. Absolutely avoid processed foods including; boxed and canned goods, fast foods, enriched breads, sugars, sodas, etc. These non-foods put undue stress on your digestive system and ultimately your endocrine system (hormones).

So what's the problem with (HRT) Hormone Replacement Therapy? Most of us have heard the stories, read the articles and have seen the warnings. The possible side-effects of HRT are just a bit too scary for me. Breast and/or uterine cancer, heart disease, blood clots, and stroke being the most prominent. Unfortunately, some of you have even experienced one of these yourself. And, watch out ladies, bio-identical hormone replacement therapy can be dangerous as well. Natural progesterone cream is sold over the counter and being used without knowing one's hormone levels. Hormone creams and gels must be used very carefully and monitored closely with appropriate testing. One of the many problems with using the transdermal creams and gels is that they are absorbed into the subcutaneous fat tissue where they build up and can eventually saturate the tissue and over time start to spill back into the system creating an overdose of the 'free fraction' of the hormone in the body. At this point your cells will down-regulate (not accept) the hormone and you will once again have the symptoms of deficiency while you actually have too much of the hormone in your system. Routine (serum bound) blood tests cannot accurately monitor the use of transdermal creams and gels. Testing must be performed in the free state, otherwise a person will be profoundly overdosed with 'free' hormone levels by the time the blood tests detect any significant changes. I have witnessed many a website advising the use of creams and gels without regard to the individual's symptoms, history or tested levels. This is totally irresponsible and a major problem for women looking for an end to the sometimes debilitating symptoms of menopause. When administering a hormone in a 'free' form you must test for and monitor the hormone in a 'free' form (saliva or serum free). Since hormones are interactive, the problem doesn't end here. Depending on the hormone being overdosed, multiple other imbalances will stream into the system. Hormones given in amounts that exceed normal physiologic needs will cause receptor cell down-regulation (the cells will not accept the hormone once the liver can no longer clear the excessive levels). In addition, Brain, HP (hypothalamus/pituitary) dysregulation is created and atrophy of the gland as well.

DHEA is also sold over the counter. You can literally go into a health food store and buy a bottle of 25 mg capsules of DHEA. Women should not take DHEA unless absolutely necessary. Women are especially sensitive to DHEA and will not tolerate DHEA if not needed, or if given in too large of an amount. In fact, the majority of men do not need 25 mg DHEA daily. What's the big deal? DHEA can boost estrogen levels or testosterone levels and for women that could mean facial hair, deeper voice, not to mention dys-regulating the steroid hormone family even more. Hormones are very powerful messengers in very tiny amounts. Start playing with the numbers and you could be creating some very serious health problems for yourself. This goes for the men as well. For men, when taking DHEA in higher than needed amounts it will convert to Estrogen.

OK, now that I've gone on and on what are some of the solutions? Medically, I've seen recommendations for prescription drugs such as Effexor, an anti-depressant which has been successful in relieving hot flashes in low doses. The two problems I see here is that #1, it is not solving the problem and #2, there are side-effects to every medication known. You're putting a band-aid on the problem and worse than that you will, in all probability, have a known or unknown side effect from the medication. They are now performing clinical trials on the drug Menerba. From what I can gather it is a plant based drug with 10 or 20 herbs, licorice being the major player. Hmmm, maybe I'll just try some licorice?

Let's look at some of the herbs that may be of value here:

Tribulus -

Indicated for hormonal support. Tribulus is known to boost male and female fertility and libido, enhance athletic performance, stamina and endurance, restore and build vitality, relieve menopausal symptoms and is helpful in male menopause.

Black Cohosh -

Is specific for menopausal symptoms such as reproductive problems, especially when accompanied by pain: amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, uterine pain, ovulatory pain, post-partum pain, testicular and prostatic pain, and menopausal symptomotology such as anxiety, depression and insomnia. It is mildly useful for hot flashes and is more effective when used with Chaste Tree, Motherwort, Licorice, and Dang Gui. Black Cohosh is contraindicated in pregnancy & low blood pressure.

Sarsaparilla -

This herb is getting a lot off attention for its' role in decreasing hot flashes. Although a cooling herb Sarsaparilla is more specific for inflammatory conditions of the skin, connective tissue, and bowels. That being said, it does clear blood heat and is used with other herbs to reducef hot flashes.

Red Clover -

The isolated isoflavones are being used to treat menopausal symptoms. Since it is a cooling herb it can help reduce hot flashes.

Licorice - Contains isoflavones and is used for menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness. More effective when used with Chastetree, Black Cohosh, Motherwort, and Sage. High doses of Licorice is contraindicated in people with high blood pressure.

Soy - I'm going to be very opinionated here. I don't believe soy is meant for human consumption, there is a tremendous amount of controversy about the efficacy of soy and about the fact that is does not digest in the human body. BTW, soy is not an herb.

Wild Yam - What can I say, some experts swear by it and others say that is has no real benefit for menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes.

When using herbs be sure to purchase your herbs from a known and reputable source. Do a bit of research to be sure the herb is not contraindicated with any medications and/or physical challenges you may have.

No matter how long you have been suffering with hot flashes and/or other symptoms of peri-menopause and menopause, it's not too late to stop hot flashes now. The good news is - You can begin by knowing your triggers and avoiding them. Eat a healthy well balanced diet. Find a qualified herbalist or hormone specialist and discover your hormonal levels so that you can begin the balancing act for a healthier and happier you.

Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy - Does it Really Work?

HRT Therapy

Fluid Retention:

After just a few months into the treatment, many men prescribed with hormone replacement therapy methods complain of fluid retention. Swelling usually occurs in the ankles or legs. Most of the time, this is accompanied with high blood pressure or congestive heart failure.

Sleep apnea:

Sleep apnea is a condition in which an individual stops breathing for a period of time while sleeping. There have been many reported cases of this condition of men who are under hormone replacement therapy. Interestingly, although the public has been warned of this possibility, drug companies have released several statements denying this fact. As per their conclusion, the studies conducted associating testosterone replacement therapy and sleep apnea are weak and require further investigation.

Spermatogenesis:

The production of sperm in all men is dependent on production of testosterone by the testes. When hormone replacement therapy is applied to men who are testosterone deficient, the testes begin to stop producing natural testosterones altogether. This condition may either be temporary or permanent. For this reason, most doctors prefer to apply this form of treatment to men who already have children. This risk is not only a possibility but has been proven to be absolute for all those under this form of medication.

Menopause And Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy

What Is Hormone Therapy

Sally, one of my senior colleagues was in her mid forties when she experienced night sweat for the first time in her life. It was cold inside, yet she was all covered up with sweat. The story does not end there; she shares with us more of her experiences like depression, anxiety, hot flash, vaginal dryness, low sex drive and few more. Well, sally was going through the symptoms of menopause. It literally meant a sudden 'change of life' for her. She suddenly started look different and started talking about strange things like 'getting everything in order'. Any way, the cheery, confident Sally was gone and as if a different person came to work with us. It was evident that Sally failed to accept this natural transition of life with grace. It was then somebody broached the topic of hormone therapy to Sally. After a brief phase of indecision, sally decided in favor of hormone replacement therapy and today she is her active, enterprising self again and most importantly finally she came to realize that menopause meant only the end of reproductive life of a woman; it is not the end of life.

So what does a hormone therapy mean that brought about such a positive change in the life of Sally and why only Sally? Millions of women all across the USA, every year take recourse to the hormone replacement therapy to live a life happier and healthier in their post menopausal days.

No matter by what name you call it-- Hormone therapy or hormone replacement therapy or ovarian hormone therapy, it is a treatment involving the use of estrogen and progesterone to supplement the declining levels of these hormones in female body during the days of menopause. The modern medical sciences are of the opinion that the term , "hormone replacement therapy" is contradictory to the very spirit of the treatment as the name suggests that menopause is a disease caused by hormone deficiency. But menopause is just a natural phase of a woman's reproductive life and the entire life cycle as puberty is. So the term "hormone therapy" has become more popular over time.

Menopause is natural, but it is not that easy to deal with its symptoms. So it is no wonder that more and more American women are considering a hormone treatment as they reach the menopausal period in their 40's and 50's. But giving a consideration and taking the actual decision are not same and so there are considerable dilemma between the thinking and ultimately taking the decision. Most of the women swing between the question: to do or not to do? They can not be blamed for this indecision for making an informed decision about hormone therapy is difficult. One comes to read about so many benefits of this therapy only to be contradicted by a sea of risk factors written in another book or magazine or website. So before taking the decision you have to weigh carefully the pros and cons of this treatment.

However, there are some women who are not considered ideal candidate for hormone therapy. They include the Women with certain conditions should not take hormone therapy. These include the women diagnosed with breast cancer, active liver disease, a history of blood clots or vaginal bleeding without any apparent reason.

Any decision regarding hormone therapy must be taken after through discussion with your physician who will decide after taking into consideration such factors as your age, medical history, overall health and Current symptoms.