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What Is WilmingtonHormone 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. Wilmington HRT replaces hormones your body no longer makes. It’s the most effective treatment for menopause symptoms.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy - Do You Need It?
So the medical profession insists on using what it is familiar with, and that is drugs. Bioidentical hormones are becoming more familiar to doctors, and more and more doctors are willing to prescribe them. But its far from the majority--many will not.
Why bother with bioidentical hormones? Wouldn't they have the same side effects as what doctors now prescribe. Doctors who use them say no, that they do not have the side effects and risks of drug HRT. While most women are already aware of the risks associated with hormone replacement therapy, it may be helpful to look at the issue quickly.
Risks of HRT
Many studies have underscored the risks of HRT. The biggest is The Women's Health Initiative. The study followed 160,000 women between 1993 and 1998. It compared the health of women on different combinations of HRT with women who were not.
The study reported that the women on HRT had greater risk for a variety of health problems. The study showed that the women on HRT had a significantly increased risk for breast cancer, heart attack, stroke and blood clots. The study showed that HRT benefited some conditions, decreasing the risk of colorectal cancer and of hip fractures due to osteoporosis.
There is also medical evidence proving that hormone replacement therapy reduces the risk of developing cancer of the rectum or colon also known as colorectal cancer. The risk of coronary heart disease is also reduced when estrogen replacements are taken soon after menopause occurs. Maintaining normal levels of estrogen hormone reduces the risks of heart disease in these women. A combined prescription of both progestin and estrogen hormones is needed to avoid the risk of cancer of the uterus which may increase with the use of estrogen hormones alone. Replacement hormones are indeed the most widely used treatments used for symptoms associated with menopause.
Replacement hormone therapies not only help to solve problems related to menopause but they also facilitate graceful aging in women. Most of the ingredients which make these hormones are extracted from plants and are 100 percent identical to the hormones produced by the human body. It is important for women to have balanced hormone levels after menopause to avoid the aforementioned nagging symptoms. The replacement hormones come in different forms such as pills, creams, and oral supplements. Proper tests should however be done first to determine one's specific needs and thus help to identify an appropriate replacement therapy approach. Really this is a very interesting topic.
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.
Hormone Replacement Therapy Risks
Other placebo controlled trials did not find any efficacy of soy extract for hot flashes. Therefore I do not recommend use of soy extract for hot flashes. However there are no major safety issues with soy so if you want to try it that is fine. Placebo controlled trials have not shown Dong Quai or Evening Primrose Oil to be effective in the treatment of hot flashes.
Alternative medicines that are commonly promoted for symptoms related to menopause include St. John's wort, flaxseed oil, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, red clover, ginseng, rice bran oil, wild yam, calcium, gotu kola, licorice root, sage, sarsaparilla, passion flower, chaste berry, ginkgo, and valerian root. None of these have been studied with controlled trials. However since they do not have major health risks associated with them it is OK to try them.
Heidi Nelson, M.D., a Professor of Medicine at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, Oregon, and colleagues recently reviewed the literature for nonhormonal therapies for hot flashes, looking at the reduction in the number of hot flashes per day with different treatments. They found that hot flashes were reduced with SSRIs by 1.3 per day, with clonidine by -.95 per day, and gabapentine -2.5 per day (all statistically significant). By comparison, HRT reduces hot flashes by 2.5-3 per day. There was no effect of red clover extract, and results were mixed for soy. Other natural remedies for hot flashes were found to lack sufficient controlled trials to make a determination.
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.
Hormone Therapy: What It Is and How It Can Help You
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.