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What Is HampsteadHormone 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. Hampstead HRT replaces hormones your body no longer makes. It’s the most effective treatment for menopause symptoms.
What You Should Know About Menopause and Bioidentical Hormones
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy - Does it Really Work?
Patients interested in bioidentical hormone therapy are encouraged to speak with a medical professional regarding its benefits over traditional hormone replacement therapy techniques. Many clinics offer their patients a consultation in which they will discuss the treatment and will customize a treatment plan for each patient.
In conjunction with this therapy, a medical professional may recommend certain exercise and dietary programs to improve the symptoms of menopause or andropause. It is important that patients work with their physician in creating a specialized therapy program and develop healthy lifestyle practices that will be medically beneficial.
There has been a good deal of confusion and controversy surrounding this treatment in recent years and interested patients are encouraged to discuss the possible risks, benefits and alternatives associated with any treatment or procedure.
Exercises include the tensing of the muscles of the pelvic floor that not only improves bladder control, but also increases sexual functioning. They involve tensing and relaxing the muscles around the area of the urethra, vagina and anus.
To understand how these muscle work you can use the following techniques:
- Begin to urinate and then stop. The same muscle you use to control urination is the muscle that is used during the Kegel exercises.
- Insert a tampon and squeeze around it; these are the muscles being strengthened.
Kegel exercises can be added into any part of a daily routine-like when you are on the elevator, driving, talking on the phone, or while taking a shower. Repetition is very important and many women have found that these exercises have had a positive impact on their sex life.
When concerned about menopause and bladder control, Kegel exercise is an excellent alternative HRT. Doing your Kegels faithfully can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles enough that a sneeze or heavy lifting be a cause for loss of bladder control.
A key point to this training is that it IS part of an alternative hormone replacement therapy approach, which does not include drugs.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy - What Is The Process?
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.