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What Is Skippers CornerHormone 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. Skippers Corner HRT replaces hormones your body no longer makes. It’s the most effective treatment for menopause symptoms.
A Natural Alternative to Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
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.
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.
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.
Hormone Replacement Therapy: What Is It?
A follow up study to the Women's Health Initiative showed that not only did it increase the risk of breast cancer, but that the type of breast cancer was more deadly. Other studies show that HRT also increases risk for gall stones, kidney stones, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer and uterine bleeding.
Side effects of HRT
While the press has spoken more about the risks of HRT recently, one doesn't hear much about side effects. Shorter term complaints or side effects that women have with HRT include nausea and vomiting, breast tenderness, vaginal bleeding, skin discoloration (particularly patches on the face), headaches, depression, anxiety, nervousness and irritability, fluid retention and bloating, acne and greasy skin.
It's not a very rosy picture. The majority of women are now deciding against hormone replacement therapy for relief of menopausal complaints. Instead they are turning to natural approaches such as herbs that contain estrogen like molecules, and estrogen rich foods.
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.
Herbs and Supplements for Menopausal Symptoms - Is there Any Evidence of Benefit?
The side effects of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) fall into two categories. First are the immediate side effects, such as headaches, nausea and vomiting and many others. Not all women will experience such side effects, and generally speaking these side effects resolve themselves once the HRT is stopped. Then there are long term risks such as increased risk of breast cancer (and other risks too). These longer term consequences of HRT are not reversible and in some cases are lethal. We'll start by answering the question "What is hormone replacement therapy?" Then we'll look at the advantages of bioidentical hormones, and finally at the side effects and risks associated with hormone replacement therapy.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Now let's look at hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Actually HRT is no longer routinely recommended for relief of menopausal complaints. It's too risky.
For a long time, doctor's thought that HRT was a cure all. Then some major studies, particularly the Women's Health Initiative revealed the risks associated with HRT. But before looking at the risks of HRT, let's make sure that we understand what it is.
The name "hormone replacement therapy" implies that HRT is replacing the estrogen and progesterone lost. It is, but not with the same hormones that our body makes. So its not replacing apples with apples. It's more like replacing apples with watermelons, and that's the main reason for the risks associated with HRT.