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What Is BelvilleHormone 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. Belville HRT replaces hormones your body no longer makes. It’s the most effective treatment for menopause symptoms.
Every Woman's Guide to Menopause and the Importance of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
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.
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.
I know, the title sounds a little scary right? It's like imagining a team of medical doctors surrounding you as you lie on a table and they are performing natural hormone replacement therapy. They start to stick tubes in your body and then give you estrogen that comes from the lab. It kinda sounds like a movie from "Frankenstein", but in actuality, this is the best way I could describe hormone replacement therapy.
If that made you feel a little eery, then you should be happy that I have good news for you. There are other replacement therapies that are much safer and no hassle is needed. Also, herbal supplements are becoming the more favorable option for people who are uncomfortable with lab grown hormones being inserted in their bodies.
The soy seed is among the more essential natural supplements. This ingredient contains naturally occurring plant estrogen that can be described loosely as "weaker forms of female estrogen". It addresses estrogen imbalance by attaching these plant estrogens to the body's estrogen receptor sites. Surprisingly, these phytoestrogens can both increase and reduce the levels of estrogen in women. If a woman is in the perimenopausal stage, where there is a surplus of hormones, the soy seed decreases estrogen. In postmenopausal women, it increases them.
It is important to realize that what is being treated is not really the estrogen levels in the woman's body, but the accompanying symptoms that comes from it. I suggest using herbal supplements and not natural hormone replacement therapy because it is safer.
Every Woman's Guide to Menopause and the Importance of 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.
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.
Side Effects Of Bioidentical Hormones
Depression is mainly attributed to hormonal imbalance. During depression, serotonin, a chemical that is responsible for a person's mood, tends to drop. Low level of serotonin makes a person feel sad. On the other hand, high level of this chemical makes a person feel happy. The change in serotonin level is determined by estrogen hormones. Thus when estrogen level tends to decline, so does the production of serotonin. This hormonal imbalance is the reason behind depression. Managing depression means handling hormonal imbalance. This further means that Hormone Replacement Therapy can help people get out of their depression.
Doctors use synthetic hormones in Hormone Replacement Therapy. Synthetic hormones are created in laboratories rather than by the body. However, synthetic hormones used in Hormone Replacement Therapy act like natural hormones once inside the body. To treat depression, estrogen is restored by using synthetic estrogen. The synthetic estrogen will act like a natural one. The aim of Hormone Replacement Therapy is to replenish the level of estrogen in the body so that the level of serotonin will also increase. Once this is achieved, depression will not be an issue. As long as the level of estrogen is high, the person will not feel symptoms of depression.