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What Is HarnettHormone 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. Harnett HRT replaces hormones your body no longer makes. It’s the most effective treatment for menopause symptoms.
HRT Vs Natural - And the Winner Is?
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.
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.
Menopause occurs in middle age and brings along with it horrible symptoms such as hot flashes, difficulty sleeping, and a decreased sex drive. These symptoms vary a lot between women, but the driving force behind menopause is caused by an imbalance of hormones.
These hormones help maintain steady levels of chemicals in a woman's bloodstream. It used to be that hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, was the gold standard for hormone imbalance treatment. Research then started show that females utilizing HRT were at greater risk of stroke, heart disease, breast cancer.
Drs. and patients are now taking a closer look at bio identical hormones. These hormones are generated from plant compounds and are identical to the hormones that are found in the human body. Some studies are showing that BH RT, which is short for bio identical hormone replacement therapy, is good at alleviating the symptoms of menopause with a very low side effect profile.
Until a few years ago, it was very common for women experiencing menopause to utilize hormone replacement therapy. But HRT has been shown to lead to fluid retention, dizziness, and headaches. A recent study by the Women's Health Initiative looked at 16,000 women between ages of 50 to 79. Over the five-year study, females who were utilizing HRT had almost 30% higher risk of breast cancer, up 26% higher risk of heart disease, and the risk of stroke was 41% higher.
Hormones that are bio identical tend to help protect against breast cancer. They also help increase libido, vitality, stamina, mood and energy level along with helping with attention and memory. Women are often able to sleep better and have less anxiety when taking bio identical's.
BHRT is not without controversy. Large-scale studies need to be accomplished in order to decide whether it truly is more effective than traditional HRT.
It used to be thought that menopause was mostly due to estrogen deficiency, however those levels fall only 40 to 60% during menopause whereas the levels of progesterone can drop to virtually nothing. Low progesterone can lead to a higher risk of and or mutual cancer that potentially breast cancer as well.
Low progesterone can also lead to women gaining weight, low bone density, difficulty sleeping and stress. All of these are reasons to incorporate hormone replacement into a menopause regimen, the question remains is whether or not B HR 28 is in fact the best way to go. So far, it looks extremely promising.
The Risks of Hormone Replacement Therapy for Women
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.
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.
Benefits of Hormone Replacement Therapy
Bioidentical hormones are often synthesized from plants, and processed to make them resemble, or become entirely identical to the hormones within our bodies. Bioidentical hormone preparations are often compounded by pharmacists, with respect to the quantity recommended by the doctor.
We have a conflict of interest here with the pharmaceutical industry, because they are unable to patent human hormones that are molecularly identical to actual substances in the body. Therefore everything that you hear about bioidentical hormones must be viewed with a skeptic eye, because of the pharmaceutical companies massive influence over the health industry.
These hormones are mainly used by females, to alleviate the signs and symptoms of menopause. A scientific study compared the usage of bioidentical progesterone cream to placebo, and learned that women using the cream experienced a massive decrease in symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats. The cream had no effect on bone mineral density though.
Bioidentical hormones are generally prescribed as a healthier replacement for regular hormone replacement therapy, which has been proven to have serious adverse effects. Many people have voiced their criticism about this kind of treatment because it hasn't been analyzed extensively enough in clinical studies.
However, some scientific studies have demonstrated that these hormones are indeed healthier and also bring less risk of adverse effects than the synthetic versions. This includes significantly less risk of blood clots as well as cancer, the two primary issues concerning conventional hormone replacement therapy.
It's imperative that you realize that these types of hormones haven't been studied as extensively as the standard, artificial ones. This is very understandable because the main sources of research funds are the drug companies, and they have absolutely no interest in studying a substance that can not be patented or marketed for massive price tags.
Unfortunately, because scientific studies are missing, it is not easy to find details about the side effects of bioidentical hormones in the literature, but it appears obvious how the side effects tend to be less severe than with regular hormone replacement therapy.
I'm not really thrilled about individuals playing around with the hormones in their bodies, because this might have unpredictable consequences. If the symptoms of menopause are leading to big problems in that case bioidentical hormones can be a safe alternative to standard treatment.
I would personally also suggest using as little of them as possible, for as brief a time as possible. Menopause is really a natural occurrence that happens with getting older, and even though treatment methods are possible, doesn't mean they're always the right thing to do.
Make sure that if you are undergoing any kind of hormonal treatment, to do it under supervision by a physician who has knowledge of these matters, hormones are nothing to play around with.