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What Is Kings GrantHormone 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. Kings Grant HRT replaces hormones your body no longer makes. It’s the most effective treatment for menopause symptoms.
Menopause and Bladder Control, Kegel Exercises Used in Alternative HRT
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:
Physical, Emotional & Dietary Stress
Over the Counter Medications
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:
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.
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.
If you don't want to participate in hormone replacement therapy while going through menopause, there are some things that you can do to help alleviate some of the symptoms. First, change your diet and eliminate any processed foods. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Hot flashes can be brought on by hot, spicy food so limiting these can definitely help. Limiting alcohol and caffeine will also help you sleep better and reduce hot flashes, insomnia, anxiety and mood swings. If you smoke, it may be time to consider stopping for a number of health reasons. Make sure to get plenty of rest and finally, exercise you be the most important thing you can do to help reduce or eliminate symptoms. Walking is great, so are running, golfing, swimming, biking, hiking and weight lifting. The more active you are, the easier it will be getting through menopause.
There are a number of menopause herbal supplements on the market that make big claims. Before taking anything, it is recommended you speak to your doctor to ensure they are right for you and won't cause other side effects.
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.
Herbs and Supplements for Menopausal Symptoms - Is there Any Evidence of Benefit?
There is also medical evidence proving that hormone replacement therapy reduces the risk of developing cancer of the rectum or colon also known as colorectal cancer. The risk of coronary heart disease is also reduced when estrogen replacements are taken soon after menopause occurs. Maintaining normal levels of estrogen hormone reduces the risks of heart disease in these women. A combined prescription of both progestin and estrogen hormones is needed to avoid the risk of cancer of the uterus which may increase with the use of estrogen hormones alone. Replacement hormones are indeed the most widely used treatments used for symptoms associated with menopause.
Replacement hormone therapies not only help to solve problems related to menopause but they also facilitate graceful aging in women. Most of the ingredients which make these hormones are extracted from plants and are 100 percent identical to the hormones produced by the human body. It is important for women to have balanced hormone levels after menopause to avoid the aforementioned nagging symptoms. The replacement hormones come in different forms such as pills, creams, and oral supplements. Proper tests should however be done first to determine one's specific needs and thus help to identify an appropriate replacement therapy approach. Really this is a very interesting topic.
The debate as to whether bio-identical hormone therapy trumps other forms of hormone therapies that seek to reverse the effects of menopause is still a raging one. The key here is to find out if the risks outweigh the benefits, or vise versa. The hormones in bio-identical therapy are chemically identical to your body's hormones. Although estrogen and progesterone from this therapy are not known to increase the risk of breast cancer, other constituent components, the likes of synthetic progestins; medroxyprogesterone acetate heighten that risk.
Although hormone therapy is a delicate balance, bio-identical therapy does have its benefits. It is known to result in lesser bleeding, but, like any hormone therapy; they don't have this same effect on everyone. A history in cancer, blood clots and other conditions are usually red flags for people considering bio-identical therapy. Some women tend not to respond to the therapy, as they should, laying testament to the fact that hormone therapy is far from an exact science.
Lifestyle is another key aspect of hormonal therapy that is perennially downplayed. In the same way that pathological smoking and alcohol consumption may speed up your transition to menopause, these habits could as well cause an adverse reaction to any type of hormonal therapy. Note that there are many variables here, ergo; one should consult a physician or pharmacist specialist before taking any steps. The efficacy of bio-identical therapy could be highly dependent on slight lifestyle changes that may make all the difference. Finally, bio-identical components are run through a rigorous quality assurance process, plant synthesized, and are fitted to suit individual hormonal needs.
7 Ways on How to Avoid the Risks Associated with HRT
A point of confusion for some people is the difference between side effects and risks when taking a prescriptive drug. This is certainly true when it comes to hormone replacement therapy or HRT. HRT refers to synthetic hormones prescribed primarily to relieve menopause related complaints such as hot flashes, night sweats, erratic periods, excessive bleeding during perimenopause, etc.
Risks associated with HRT
There are long term risks associated with taking prescriptive hormones as part of replacement therapy. You may have taken prescriptive hormones for years with no side effects whatsoever, and they may have dramatically relieved your menopausal hot flashes, sweats and other complaints. Yet you are now at greater risk for a variety of serious illnesses including breast cancer, uterine cancer, stroke and heart attack to name a few. These are the risks associated with HRT. Research studies have found so many serious risks associated with hormone replacement therapy that most medical doctors are unwilling to routinely prescribe hormone replacement for relief of menopause related complaints. Rightly so, they don't want to put their patient's at risk for life threatening conditions.
Let's look more closely at the risks associated with replacement therapy. Much of our knowledge of these risks comes from the Women's Health Initiative, a study that tracked the health of thousands of women, some taking hrt and others not. The study was eventually stopped as it became clear that there was a dramatically increased risk of breast cancer among the women undergoing HRT. Because of the complex nature of the study, the results are difficult to summarize succinctly. Numerous other studies have also clarified the risks and benefits associated with hormone replacement. Here is a broad picture of the level of risk associated with hormone replacement, followed by the benefits.
Hormone replacement therapy risks
- Breast cancer risk increased by 24 percent with combined estrogen / progestin HRT
- Risk of ischemic stroke increased by 41 percent with medium to high dose HRT, but much less risk with ultra low dose hormone replacement
- Heart attack risk increases by 29 percent for those taking HRT
- Slightly increased risk of ovarian cancer when only estrogen is taken for more than 10 years
- Twenty-one percent increased risk of kidney stones
- Higher risk of developing gall stones
Hormone replacement benefits
- Relief of menopause related complaints
- Increases bone density
- Reduces risk for colon-rectal cancer
- Decreases risk of macular (eye) degeneration and loss of vision associated with aging
The side effects of HRT
Side effects are generally considered to be any temporary complaints that are experienced while taking a drug. Side effects often resolve soon after stopping the medication. Using this description, the side effects of hormone replacement are not well known. These side effects vary depending on which combination of hormones one is taking and the specific synthetic forms used. Some of the more common side effects of prescriptive forms of estrogen, progesterone and combinations of both are as follows.
- Breast pain, enlargement and tenderness is associated with the stimulatory effect of estrogen
- Nausea and vomiting with the use of estrogen HRT taken by mouth
- Vaginal bleeding can occur in association with oral estrogen
- Darkened skin spots tend to occur on the face
- Headaches of a migraine type are associated with taking synthetic progesterone or progestins
- Depression is a common complaint that is found to be a result of taking progestins
- Greasy skin and acne are also associated with progestin use
Women are wisely looking for alternatives to hormone replacement. Fearing the risks associated with it, added to the side effects of prescriptive hormones, they are not too excited by it. Researchers and academics argue for and against hormone replacement.
The author's of a 2008 study titled the Women's International Study of Long-Duration Oestrogen after the Menopausesuggested that their study demonstrated such significant benefits for relief of menopause complaints that HRTshould be reconsidered by many women.
One of their colleagues (not an author of the study) reviewed the results of their study and came up with the opposite conclusion. Underscoring her concerns regarding the risks of hormone replacement therapy, Professor Anne Kavanagh of the University of Melbourne recently countered their claims as to the benefits of hormone replacement therapy. Professor Kavanagh points out that the study did not show and overall improvement in the "quality of life" for women in the study.