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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.
Herbs and Supplements for Menopausal Symptoms - Is there Any Evidence of Benefit?
Depression is mainly attributed to hormonal imbalance. During depression, serotonin, a chemical that is responsible for a person's mood, tends to drop. Low level of serotonin makes a person feel sad. On the other hand, high level of this chemical makes a person feel happy. The change in serotonin level is determined by estrogen hormones. Thus when estrogen level tends to decline, so does the production of serotonin. This hormonal imbalance is the reason behind depression. Managing depression means handling hormonal imbalance. This further means that Hormone Replacement Therapy can help people get out of their depression.
Doctors use synthetic hormones in Hormone Replacement Therapy. Synthetic hormones are created in laboratories rather than by the body. However, synthetic hormones used in Hormone Replacement Therapy act like natural hormones once inside the body. To treat depression, estrogen is restored by using synthetic estrogen. The synthetic estrogen will act like a natural one. The aim of Hormone Replacement Therapy is to replenish the level of estrogen in the body so that the level of serotonin will also increase. Once this is achieved, depression will not be an issue. As long as the level of estrogen is high, the person will not feel symptoms of depression.
With publicity about the dangers of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) getting so much publicity, a lot of women are turning to herbs and supplements for hot flashes and other symptoms associated with menopause. Soy, black cohosh, Dong Quai root, and Evening primrose oil have all been promoted for hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. But do they really work? An initial study of 104 postmenopausal women randomized to 40 g daily of soy or a placebo showed a statistically significant reduction in number of hot flashes that was greater for soy (45%) that was greater than the reduction obtained with placebo (30%). Another study of 351 women age 45-55 with two or more hot flash symptoms per day were randomly assigned to black cohosh, multibotanicals, multibotanicals plus dietary soy counseling, placebo or hormone therapy for one year. Only hormone therapy was associated with significant reductions in hot flashes. Taking dietary soy actually turned out to be less effective at stopping hot flashes than taking a placebo for one year.
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.
What You Should Know About Menopause and Bioidentical Hormones
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.
Most women experience the onset of the menopause at an average age of about 50, but it can start anytime from the early forties to the late fifties. Symptoms can vary: some women sail through but others suffer the miseries of lack of energy, hot flashes, depression, night sweats, and loss of libido.
The usual remedy prescribed by doctors is hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and tranquillizers and anti-depressants to which you can become addicted. Before embarking on such treatment, investigate the natural alternative.
HRT is prescribed to counter balance the reduced production by your body of estrogen which can lead to increased risk of osteoporosis and weakened bones leading to fractures. However, two large clinical trials have shown that HRT does not, in fact, significantly reduce the incidence of bone fractures, and there is an increased risk of heart disease, gallstones, and breast and endometrial cancer.
Many menopausal symptoms are less to do with a shortage of hormones and more to do with imbalances. By eating a healthy diet, taking regular exercise and natural supplements, you can boost the health of your bones, and balance sugar levels and your hormones.
It is well known that people in some parts of the world (for example Japan and the Mediterranean countries) rarely suffer from heart disease due to their different national diets. It is less well known that women in the Andes region of Peru do not suffer menopausal symptoms. Peruvian women take Maca, a tuberous plant related to the potato. As well as the beneficial effect on menopausal symptoms, Maca boosts energy and libido. Maca is also known as "Peruvian Ginseng" and "Peruvian Viagra".
The Incas once inhabited this area and, in order to boost their energy, their warriors used to take Maca before going into battle. When the Spanish conquered the area they found that their horses suffered from the high altitude. The locals advised them to feed Maca to the horses and the animals immediately experienced an increase in energy levels. The Spanish found that what was good for their horses would also benefit humans, so payment for the taxes levied on the locals was taken in Maca.
There are three phases of menopause: the peri-menopause or the period leading up to the menopause. During this time a low dose of 1500mg is recommended to counteract the slow down in the production by your body of hormones. During the actual menopause, increase the dose to around 4000mg each day for a period of 2-3 months, and then reduce the dose to 2000mg. In the post menopause phase, reduce your daily intake of Maca to 1500mg. It is during the menopause and post menopause phases that the risk of osteoporosis increases and you are advised to also supplement Maca with Forever Freedom, a drinking gel that contains aloe vera, Glucosamine, MSM, Chondroitin and vitamin C.
Every Woman's Guide to Menopause and the Importance of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
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.