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What Is Kings GrantHormone 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. Kings Grant HRT replaces hormones your body no longer makes. It’s the most effective treatment for menopause symptoms.
Are You Having HRT Side Effects?
As a woman ages, it is a given fact that she will be hitting her menopause some time in her mid forties. It is also a given that a number of physical and psychological changes accompany this event. Thinning hair, dry skin and wrinkles are some of the effects of menopause. But, what about men? Do they experience something similar?
According to many doctors, many men experience a number of symptoms that are directly associated with their age. As a practicing doctor in Dublin, Ireland put it, men too suffer from a list of problems peculiar to aging. This includes:
* Flailing energy levels
* Depleting sex drive
* Erectile dysfunction
* Increased fat in the midriff area
* Decreased muscle mass
* Falling strength
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.
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.
Every Woman's Guide to Menopause and the Importance of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
The average age for menopause is 51.4 years. This age has changed very little over the years. However, there is a long period of time prior to the menopause, that lasts approximately 10 years, which is referred to as the climacteric or peri-menopause phase.
So how does a person know when she has completed menopause and transitions into post-menopause? Once you have gone without menstruating for a consecutive 12 month period, then you are considered to have completed the menopause.
Until 2002 hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was routinely used to treat menopausal symptoms and protect long term health. So what changed in 2002? Well, there was a large clinical trial called the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) that reported that HRT actually caused more health risks than benefits for the women in the trial. Doctors started to get very nervous about prescribing it to their patients and as a result, up to two-thirds of women discontinued its use, quite often without even discussing it with their physicians.
Even though there is still plenty of confusion surrounding HRT, it is still considered the most effective treatment for dealing with menopausal symptoms.
Before starting upon testosterone replacement therapy, men need to have their prostate examined. This particular examination, typically conducted by urologists is to understand the condition of the prostate gland which is prone to cancer. Whilst cancer of the prostate is very common and usually harmless, any kind of irregularities, hypertrophy, or even urinary complaints must be identified and dealt with prior to beginning testosterone treatment.
Specifically, men need a PSA (prostate gland specific antigen) blood-work test. If the test's values are found to be raised, then a PSA-2 test may be ordered that may determine prostatic hypertrophy. Androgenic hormone not an option in men diagnosed with prostate cancer because testosterone may well aggravate the condition.
Men should continue doing this prostate and PSA testing every 6 months after the commencement of Testosterone Replacement Therapy or as directed by their doctor.
Androgenic hormone or testosterone is secreted by the testes the entire day and is metabolized by heavy physical work and stress. It is therefore normal for doctors to order the blood be drawn in the morning when life's demands have not yet affected the body's level. Further, it is normal for the doctor to do 2 blood tests over a period of time to take an average reading.
Once it has been determined that a testosterone deficiency does in fact exist, and that there are no prostate cancer risks preventing replacement therapy, decisions can be made about what is the best way to administer the treatment.
Fight Depression With 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.