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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.
The Dangers of Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), for men, is a treatment applied to those with unusually low testosterone levels. This type of HRT is more commonly known as testosterone replacement therapy.
HRT, generally, is a medication that contains synthetic hormones that can be taken either orally or transdermally. Testosterone replacement medications are essentially anabolic steroids sold legally.
When we say anabolic steroids, we mean those used by athletes to improve strength and muscle mass. They are basically illegal and they can cause serious health problems. Today, they are sold legally in the form of supplements and hormone replacements. Supplements can be purchased freely over the Internet while hormone replacements require a doctor's prescription. Legal or illegal, these supplements and hormone replacements can cause serious health problems.
HRT for men, in particular, can cause a number of harmful side-effects. Contrary to what is generally advertised by drug companies, hormone replacement therapy is not safe. From fluid retention to prostate growth, hormone replacement therapy can be considered one of the most harmful treatments sold legally in the market today.
Side Effects of Testosterone Replacement Therapy
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.
It wasn't until 2002 that the true health risks of hormone replacement therapy were discovered and communicated openly. Up until that time, doctors routinely prescribed HRT to women who were experiencing any sort of menopause symptoms. The most common symptoms where HRT was used were for severe hot flashes and vaginal discomfort. Hot flashes for some women can be extreme where visible sweating occurs while the body attempts to cool it self off. Hot flashes tend to be most severe during the late evening and early in the morning. There are often accompanied by night sweats.
Before women agree to hormone replacement therapy, they need to be fully aware of the health risks associated with this treatment. The combination of estrogen and progestin, a popular HRT, can result in heart disease, blood clots, strokes, breast cancer and dementia. In fact, if you are a breast cancer survivor, any sort of hormone replacement therapy is discouraged strongly even if you suffer from severe menopause symptoms.
HRT is effective at reducing the severity of menopause symptoms as well as decreasing the risk of hip fractures from osteoporosis and colorectal cancer. If you opt to participate in HRT treatment, it is recommended that you go for the smallest dosage possible for the shortest length of time to reduce your risk of the above side effects.
Fight Depression With Hormone Replacement Therapy
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.
Bioidentical hormones are often touted as the natural alternative to HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) which is the synthetic version of a female's hormones. Bioidentical refers to the progesterone and estrogen that is supposedly identical to the hormones a female's body produces. When a women enters menopause or experiences some other hormonal depletion, many doctors will prescribe hormone replacement therapy as a treatment to the varied symptoms that can accompany hormonal deficiencies.
Because of the dangers associated with HRT, many women have searched for an alternative, which to date, has been bioidentical hormones. This type of hormone compound is usually made in pharmacies that specialize in producing compounds that are regulated for each woman's identical hormone level. Pharmacies that process these compounds are not federal or state regulated so it's never certain as to the quality and consistency of dosages.
The baby boomer generation of women has been the biggest reason for the demand of a more natural way to replace depleting hormones at menopause. Also, this generation is more demanding of natural alternatives to synthetically derived treatments and want a more natural approach that may promise less side effects. The celebrity driven bioidentical conversation has also fueled the demand as many women see famous people who look 20 years younger than their real age.
Some issues to think about when considering the use of natural hormones is the fact that even though bioidenticals are naturally derived, they are still hormones that can affect the body in not only positive but negative ways as well. Also, for women who are impressed with various celebrities who recommend these treatments as a new fountain of youth, remember that celebrities have unlimited access to cosmetic surgeries and other physical assistance to help them achieve the illusion of looking younger.
It is true that natural hormones do not have the synthetic makeup of HRT compounds, but there are still risks as well as benefits associated with their use. Before making your decision about hormonal issues, it is wise to consult with one or more healthcare professionals who can provide a detailed plan for your best health.
Every Woman's Guide to Menopause and the Importance of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
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.