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What Is Wrightsville BeachHormone 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. Wrightsville Beach HRT replaces hormones your body no longer makes. It’s the most effective treatment for menopause symptoms.
Hormone Therapy: What It Is and How It Can Help You
Exercises include the tensing of the muscles of the pelvic floor that not only improves bladder control, but also increases sexual functioning. They involve tensing and relaxing the muscles around the area of the urethra, vagina and anus.
To understand how these muscle work you can use the following techniques:
- Begin to urinate and then stop. The same muscle you use to control urination is the muscle that is used during the Kegel exercises.
- Insert a tampon and squeeze around it; these are the muscles being strengthened.
Kegel exercises can be added into any part of a daily routine-like when you are on the elevator, driving, talking on the phone, or while taking a shower. Repetition is very important and many women have found that these exercises have had a positive impact on their sex life.
When concerned about menopause and bladder control, Kegel exercise is an excellent alternative HRT. Doing your Kegels faithfully can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles enough that a sneeze or heavy lifting be a cause for loss of bladder control.
A key point to this training is that it IS part of an alternative hormone replacement therapy approach, which does not include drugs.
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.
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.
Hormone Replacement Therapy - What Are the Benefits?
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.
Can menopause symptoms be safely comforted with bioidentical hormones? Recent research suggests that menopause can be treated with bioidentical hormones, a natural replacement for a woman's body, with no reported side effects.
In the past, menopause has been treated like a disease - primarily with Hormone Replacement Therapy or HRT (including Premarin, which is made from pregnant mare's urine, Prempro and Provera), which meant ingesting synthetic chemicals on a regular basis. Now we know that these drugs are causing the very problems we're trying to avoid including breast cancer and heart attacks.
Bioidentical means the hormone molecule in the product, for example progesterone cream, acts exactly like the molecules produced by the female body. They function in your body in a natural and normal way unlike synthetic chemicals. A "natural hormone" is really a compound synthesized in the lab from a natural source (such as soybeans used for estrogens and testosterone; or wild Mexican yam in the case of progesterone and sometimes testosterone).
Synthetic hormones are typically only available in oral form, but bioidentical hormones come in a variety of delivery systems such as oral, transdermal patch, cream, lotion or sublingual drops. Bioidentical hormones recently caught mainstream attention in part because of Suzanne Somer's new book, The Sexy Years
Typically a successful approach to dealing with a woman's menopausal symptoms is to begin with laboratory tests of hormone levels called a "hormone panel." The doctor can then prescribe a precise dosage of bioidentical estrogens, testosterone or DHEA that can be made for you at a Compounding Pharmacy This is contrary to HRT treatments that are typically "one size fits all."
Most doctors prescribing bioidentical hormones find that a large percentage of women find some relief by using medical-grade supplements, over-the-counter bioidentical progesterone, and dietary and lifestyle changes (including the proper nutrition and exercise). And, for the percentage of women who need a little more help, most doctors don't support the idea that bioidentical hormones should be used indefinitely as some kind of fountain of youth.
Is it right for you to treat your menopause with bioidentical hormones? First you need to consult with a doctor to get the right answer for you. Once you know what you need, your doctor and you can work out the best alternative for your body.
Hormone Replacement Therapy Risks
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.