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What Is Monkey JunctionHormone 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. Monkey Junction HRT replaces hormones your body no longer makes. It’s the most effective treatment for menopause symptoms.
Are You Having HRT Side Effects?
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.
Our body is like a well-constructed machine, with every part having a multitude of functions. The human body acts properly because of some important hormones that our endocrine system produces. However, as we begin to age, these hormones become insufficient, thus creating an imbalance and leading our body not to function properly. Hormone deficiencies or hormonal imbalance is one of the major problems both men and women experience as they enter midlife. With extensive research, scientists have come up to a solution for hormonal imbalance called Hormone Replacement Therapy. An almost similar treatment is the Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy, which uses hormones that are entirely identical in chemical structure to those found in the human body.
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.
The Dangers of Hormone Replacement Therapy
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.
Although menopause is just one of the phases of life, its symptoms often prove to be detrimental to a normal and active lifestyle of a career woman of today. So most of the women today undergo hormone therapy to get rid of these symptoms like hot flash, moderate to severe vaginal dryness and related discomforts. There are cases where even the younger women take the help of hormone therapy to treat the conditions in which ovaries do not produce sufficient estrogens naturally.
In its more advanced stage, hormone therapy is also being recommended for reducing the risk of heart disease and the debilitating disease of osteoporosis.
In order to alley the risks as far as possible, doctors suggest a continued treatment for 10 to 20 years or even throughout one's lifetime.
Hormone therapy is a procedure for receiving additional estrogen and progesterone in the body and there are several ways to take these hormones into your body. You can pop hormone pills. You can use them as topical medicines for your vaginal treatments. They can also get inside your body as implants or you can take the hormones through injections.
The normal women who have their uterus have to take a combination of estrogen and progesterone. This is because estrogen alone greatly increases a woman's risk of uterine cancer. The progesterone neutralizes this risk factor. The women who have had their uterus removed however are prescribed estrogen alone. This is known as "estrogen replacement therapy" (ERT).
There are many women who experience menopause before they are forty. Sometimes this happens naturally. Sometimes it is the result of surgery to remove the ovaries. Radiation or chemotherapy are also sometimes responsible for advancing menopause in the lives of certain women. Whatever may be the cause, in these cases of early menopause hormone or estrogen therapy becomes particularly essential to counter the effects of a premature drop in estrogen levels.
Herbs and Supplements for Menopausal Symptoms - Is there Any Evidence of Benefit?
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.