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What Is Cape FearHormone 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. Cape Fear HRT replaces hormones your body no longer makes. It’s the most effective treatment for menopause symptoms.
Menopause And Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy
As opposed to many hormone therapies, bioidentical hormone therapy actually uses natural hormones that are found in the human body. Other therapies may use similar, synthetic hormones to perform treatment. Hormone therapies have helped many men and women replenish hormone levels that may be diminished thanks to certain medical conditions such as menopause or andropause.
Bioidentical hormone therapy has been beneficial to women going through menopause or early menopause. This therapy has helped treat the symptoms of menopause including hot flashes, night sweats, memory loss, mood swings, weight gain and decreased libido. This treatment helps to replace the natural hormones that may be at decreased levels during this time.
Men may also be candidates for this therapy as well. Andropause has been described as the male menopause and is described as the gradual reduction of androgens in the body. Symptoms of this condition may include weight gain, decreased libido, fatigue, stress and energy loss. Through this treatment, many men have successfully replaced their natural hormones and have found relief from these symptoms.
Can menopause symptoms be safely comforted with bioidentical hormones? Recent research suggests that menopause can be treated with bioidentical hormones, a natural replacement for a woman's body, with no reported side effects.
In the past, menopause has been treated like a disease - primarily with Hormone Replacement Therapy or HRT (including Premarin, which is made from pregnant mare's urine, Prempro and Provera), which meant ingesting synthetic chemicals on a regular basis. Now we know that these drugs are causing the very problems we're trying to avoid including breast cancer and heart attacks.
Bioidentical means the hormone molecule in the product, for example progesterone cream, acts exactly like the molecules produced by the female body. They function in your body in a natural and normal way unlike synthetic chemicals. A "natural hormone" is really a compound synthesized in the lab from a natural source (such as soybeans used for estrogens and testosterone; or wild Mexican yam in the case of progesterone and sometimes testosterone).
Synthetic hormones are typically only available in oral form, but bioidentical hormones come in a variety of delivery systems such as oral, transdermal patch, cream, lotion or sublingual drops. Bioidentical hormones recently caught mainstream attention in part because of Suzanne Somer's new book, The Sexy Years
Typically a successful approach to dealing with a woman's menopausal symptoms is to begin with laboratory tests of hormone levels called a "hormone panel." The doctor can then prescribe a precise dosage of bioidentical estrogens, testosterone or DHEA that can be made for you at a Compounding Pharmacy This is contrary to HRT treatments that are typically "one size fits all."
Most doctors prescribing bioidentical hormones find that a large percentage of women find some relief by using medical-grade supplements, over-the-counter bioidentical progesterone, and dietary and lifestyle changes (including the proper nutrition and exercise). And, for the percentage of women who need a little more help, most doctors don't support the idea that bioidentical hormones should be used indefinitely as some kind of fountain of youth.
Is it right for you to treat your menopause with bioidentical hormones? First you need to consult with a doctor to get the right answer for you. Once you know what you need, your doctor and you can work out the best alternative for your body.
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.
7 Ways on How to Avoid the Risks Associated with HRT
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association about Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) stated, "Results of a new Women's Health Initiative (WHI) report show that hormone therapy is associated with an increased the risk of death from breast cancer, as well as an increased risk of developing invasive breast cancer in postmenopausal women."
The news media immediately raised an alarm with headlines shouting the dangers of HRT, but what the media failed to mention was that the particular hormone replacement therapy being tested was a synthetic drug called Prempro. Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy was not included in this study. The term bio-identical means it's a hormone from Mother Nature. Extracts from soybeans and yams are converted into a treatment that matches your own body's hormones exactly. Synthetic HRT is made from horse urine and therefore, not a natural hormone for humans. Well, now, all of the proponents of bio-identical HRT are shouting louder to be heard above the roar of controversy that this study caused, making things even more confusing than they already were.
You've probably heard such terms as perimenopause and postmenopause floated around. These are menopausal terms that refer to the transition into, and out of menopause. It's a normal part of life, one experienced by every woman, at some point. Menopause is characterized by cessation of hormone production of the hormones involved with the regulating of a woman's menses. With the resulting changes in the levels of estrogen and progesterone there are usually changes in a woman's body. There are certain common symptoms; hot flashes, depression and being short tempered. But the level and degree of the various symptoms vary on a case-by-case basis, and may not occur in some women at all.
Peri-menopause lays the groundwork for menopause. The symptoms here may begin years before you experience your last menstrual period and may last up to a year after that. Post-menopause is what you go through after a year without your period-and lasts for the rest of your life. The average age is still an object of debate, some women tend to go well past their 50's, while some barely get to their 40's before it starts. It all varies based on lifestyle choices, genetics and habits among other influencing factors. Some women may have needed to get their 'tubes tied' or their uterus removed but even this does not guarantee a free pass. The ovaries still produce hormones, and they may eventually still experience these symptoms.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy - Do You Need It?
I know, the title sounds a little scary right? It's like imagining a team of medical doctors surrounding you as you lie on a table and they are performing natural hormone replacement therapy. They start to stick tubes in your body and then give you estrogen that comes from the lab. It kinda sounds like a movie from "Frankenstein", but in actuality, this is the best way I could describe hormone replacement therapy.
If that made you feel a little eery, then you should be happy that I have good news for you. There are other replacement therapies that are much safer and no hassle is needed. Also, herbal supplements are becoming the more favorable option for people who are uncomfortable with lab grown hormones being inserted in their bodies.
The soy seed is among the more essential natural supplements. This ingredient contains naturally occurring plant estrogen that can be described loosely as "weaker forms of female estrogen". It addresses estrogen imbalance by attaching these plant estrogens to the body's estrogen receptor sites. Surprisingly, these phytoestrogens can both increase and reduce the levels of estrogen in women. If a woman is in the perimenopausal stage, where there is a surplus of hormones, the soy seed decreases estrogen. In postmenopausal women, it increases them.
It is important to realize that what is being treated is not really the estrogen levels in the woman's body, but the accompanying symptoms that comes from it. I suggest using herbal supplements and not natural hormone replacement therapy because it is safer.