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What Is LelandHormone 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. Leland HRT replaces hormones your body no longer makes. It’s the most effective treatment for menopause symptoms.
Benefits of Hormone Replacement Therapy
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.
Tender breasts or enlargement of breasts:
Men have some testosterone that gets converted to estrogen but normally isn't enough to cause estrogenic side effects such as gynecomastia (breast enlargement) But when taking supplemental doses of testosterone, particularly through hormone replacement therapy, much of it is converted to estradiol. The result of which, is feminized characteristics in men such as enlarge breasts.
There have been no reports of liver toxicity from transdermal testosterone replacement. However, for those on oral testosterone replacement, there have been a significant number of men reported to have developed liver problems. Incidentally, this is also the reason why all manufacturers of hormone replacement medications are now mentioning the possibility of liver failure when using their products.
One of the most important side effects of testosterone replacement therapy is the increase in the red blood cell mass and hemoglobin levels (Polycythemia). This is particularly true of older men as the increase of blood cell mass may lead to the possibility of heart attacks, strokes or peripheral clotting in the veins.
Hormone replacement therapy for men can cause prostate growth. Prostate growth can cause problems with urination or at worse, may promote the growth of cancerous prostate cells. It is noteworthy to state that prostate cancer is a common cancer for older men and the second most common cause of cancer deaths.
Hormone replacement therapy is a popular form of medication which is used to reduce the discomforts of menopause in women. When women reach menopause the production of estrogen and progesterone hormones by the ovaries is greatly reduced. They hence experience lots of changes in their bodies and exhibit symptoms which vary from time to time.
Replacement therapies are recommended so as to help ease these symptoms and most women experience a sense of well being after using these therapies for several weeks. There a number of known long-term and short-term benefits associated with the use of replacement hormones.
Replacement hormones reduce stress attacks, headaches, night sweating, and migraines. Women using these hormones also have a reduced chance of succumbing to muscular degeneration and Alzheimer's disease. Estrogen replacement hormones effectively treat symptoms experienced during menopause such as hot flushes and mood swings, vaginal dryness, and burning sensations and loss of vaginal elasticity. Studies also indicate that osteoporosis, a condition associated with the loss of bone density, can be avoided with the use of replacement hormones. This greatly reduces the risk of bone fractures as a result of weakened bones and joints.
What You Should Know About Menopause and Bioidentical Hormones
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.
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.
Stop Menopausal Hot Flashes Now, Without the Use of Hormone Replacement Therapy
Bioidentical hormones are often touted as the natural alternative to HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) which is the synthetic version of a female's hormones. Bioidentical refers to the progesterone and estrogen that is supposedly identical to the hormones a female's body produces. When a women enters menopause or experiences some other hormonal depletion, many doctors will prescribe hormone replacement therapy as a treatment to the varied symptoms that can accompany hormonal deficiencies.
Because of the dangers associated with HRT, many women have searched for an alternative, which to date, has been bioidentical hormones. This type of hormone compound is usually made in pharmacies that specialize in producing compounds that are regulated for each woman's identical hormone level. Pharmacies that process these compounds are not federal or state regulated so it's never certain as to the quality and consistency of dosages.
The baby boomer generation of women has been the biggest reason for the demand of a more natural way to replace depleting hormones at menopause. Also, this generation is more demanding of natural alternatives to synthetically derived treatments and want a more natural approach that may promise less side effects. The celebrity driven bioidentical conversation has also fueled the demand as many women see famous people who look 20 years younger than their real age.
Some issues to think about when considering the use of natural hormones is the fact that even though bioidenticals are naturally derived, they are still hormones that can affect the body in not only positive but negative ways as well. Also, for women who are impressed with various celebrities who recommend these treatments as a new fountain of youth, remember that celebrities have unlimited access to cosmetic surgeries and other physical assistance to help them achieve the illusion of looking younger.
It is true that natural hormones do not have the synthetic makeup of HRT compounds, but there are still risks as well as benefits associated with their use. Before making your decision about hormonal issues, it is wise to consult with one or more healthcare professionals who can provide a detailed plan for your best health.