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What Is KirklandHormone 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. Kirkland HRT replaces hormones your body no longer makes. It’s the most effective treatment for menopause symptoms.
Side Effects Of Bioidentical Hormones
Sally, one of my senior colleagues was in her mid forties when she experienced night sweat for the first time in her life. It was cold inside, yet she was all covered up with sweat. The story does not end there; she shares with us more of her experiences like depression, anxiety, hot flash, vaginal dryness, low sex drive and few more. Well, sally was going through the symptoms of menopause. It literally meant a sudden 'change of life' for her. She suddenly started look different and started talking about strange things like 'getting everything in order'. Any way, the cheery, confident Sally was gone and as if a different person came to work with us. It was evident that Sally failed to accept this natural transition of life with grace. It was then somebody broached the topic of hormone therapy to Sally. After a brief phase of indecision, sally decided in favor of hormone replacement therapy and today she is her active, enterprising self again and most importantly finally she came to realize that menopause meant only the end of reproductive life of a woman; it is not the end of life.
So what does a hormone therapy mean that brought about such a positive change in the life of Sally and why only Sally? Millions of women all across the USA, every year take recourse to the hormone replacement therapy to live a life happier and healthier in their post menopausal days.
No matter by what name you call it-- Hormone therapy or hormone replacement therapy or ovarian hormone therapy, it is a treatment involving the use of estrogen and progesterone to supplement the declining levels of these hormones in female body during the days of menopause. The modern medical sciences are of the opinion that the term , "hormone replacement therapy" is contradictory to the very spirit of the treatment as the name suggests that menopause is a disease caused by hormone deficiency. But menopause is just a natural phase of a woman's reproductive life and the entire life cycle as puberty is. So the term "hormone therapy" has become more popular over time.
Menopause is natural, but it is not that easy to deal with its symptoms. So it is no wonder that more and more American women are considering a hormone treatment as they reach the menopausal period in their 40's and 50's. But giving a consideration and taking the actual decision are not same and so there are considerable dilemma between the thinking and ultimately taking the decision. Most of the women swing between the question: to do or not to do? They can not be blamed for this indecision for making an informed decision about hormone therapy is difficult. One comes to read about so many benefits of this therapy only to be contradicted by a sea of risk factors written in another book or magazine or website. So before taking the decision you have to weigh carefully the pros and cons of this treatment.
However, there are some women who are not considered ideal candidate for hormone therapy. They include the Women with certain conditions should not take hormone therapy. These include the women diagnosed with breast cancer, active liver disease, a history of blood clots or vaginal bleeding without any apparent reason.
Any decision regarding hormone therapy must be taken after through discussion with your physician who will decide after taking into consideration such factors as your age, medical history, overall health and Current symptoms.
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.
The economics of bioidentical hormones
Why doesn't modern medicine use bioidentical hormones (hormones identical to what our body makes) to "replace" what is missing? It's sad to say, but the main reason is that there is no money in it.
Pharmaceutical companies can only patent what they invent in a laboratory. They are not able to patent what Nature makes. And its only through holding a patent on a drug that they can mark up the price enough to make a good profit.
(The mark up on drugs like Premarin and Prempro is very high, with mark up on many drugs upwards of 10,000%. Premarin is available in Europe for $8.95/100, in Canada for $22.46/100 in the United States for $55.42. Price variations for Prempro are $5.75/28 in Europe, $14.33/28 in Canada and $31.09/28 in the United States). These price variations begin to reveal the profit margins pharmaceutical companies have with these drugs. They are really a cash cow for these companies.
7 Ways on How to Avoid the Risks Associated with HRT
Most women experience the onset of the menopause at an average age of about 50, but it can start anytime from the early forties to the late fifties. Symptoms can vary: some women sail through but others suffer the miseries of lack of energy, hot flashes, depression, night sweats, and loss of libido.
The usual remedy prescribed by doctors is hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and tranquillizers and anti-depressants to which you can become addicted. Before embarking on such treatment, investigate the natural alternative.
HRT is prescribed to counter balance the reduced production by your body of estrogen which can lead to increased risk of osteoporosis and weakened bones leading to fractures. However, two large clinical trials have shown that HRT does not, in fact, significantly reduce the incidence of bone fractures, and there is an increased risk of heart disease, gallstones, and breast and endometrial cancer.
Many menopausal symptoms are less to do with a shortage of hormones and more to do with imbalances. By eating a healthy diet, taking regular exercise and natural supplements, you can boost the health of your bones, and balance sugar levels and your hormones.
It is well known that people in some parts of the world (for example Japan and the Mediterranean countries) rarely suffer from heart disease due to their different national diets. It is less well known that women in the Andes region of Peru do not suffer menopausal symptoms. Peruvian women take Maca, a tuberous plant related to the potato. As well as the beneficial effect on menopausal symptoms, Maca boosts energy and libido. Maca is also known as "Peruvian Ginseng" and "Peruvian Viagra".
The Incas once inhabited this area and, in order to boost their energy, their warriors used to take Maca before going into battle. When the Spanish conquered the area they found that their horses suffered from the high altitude. The locals advised them to feed Maca to the horses and the animals immediately experienced an increase in energy levels. The Spanish found that what was good for their horses would also benefit humans, so payment for the taxes levied on the locals was taken in Maca.
There are three phases of menopause: the peri-menopause or the period leading up to the menopause. During this time a low dose of 1500mg is recommended to counteract the slow down in the production by your body of hormones. During the actual menopause, increase the dose to around 4000mg each day for a period of 2-3 months, and then reduce the dose to 2000mg. In the post menopause phase, reduce your daily intake of Maca to 1500mg. It is during the menopause and post menopause phases that the risk of osteoporosis increases and you are advised to also supplement Maca with Forever Freedom, a drinking gel that contains aloe vera, Glucosamine, MSM, Chondroitin and vitamin C.
Menopause occurs in middle age and brings along with it horrible symptoms such as hot flashes, difficulty sleeping, and a decreased sex drive. These symptoms vary a lot between women, but the driving force behind menopause is caused by an imbalance of hormones.
These hormones help maintain steady levels of chemicals in a woman's bloodstream. It used to be that hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, was the gold standard for hormone imbalance treatment. Research then started show that females utilizing HRT were at greater risk of stroke, heart disease, breast cancer.
Drs. and patients are now taking a closer look at bio identical hormones. These hormones are generated from plant compounds and are identical to the hormones that are found in the human body. Some studies are showing that BH RT, which is short for bio identical hormone replacement therapy, is good at alleviating the symptoms of menopause with a very low side effect profile.
Until a few years ago, it was very common for women experiencing menopause to utilize hormone replacement therapy. But HRT has been shown to lead to fluid retention, dizziness, and headaches. A recent study by the Women's Health Initiative looked at 16,000 women between ages of 50 to 79. Over the five-year study, females who were utilizing HRT had almost 30% higher risk of breast cancer, up 26% higher risk of heart disease, and the risk of stroke was 41% higher.
Hormones that are bio identical tend to help protect against breast cancer. They also help increase libido, vitality, stamina, mood and energy level along with helping with attention and memory. Women are often able to sleep better and have less anxiety when taking bio identical's.
BHRT is not without controversy. Large-scale studies need to be accomplished in order to decide whether it truly is more effective than traditional HRT.
It used to be thought that menopause was mostly due to estrogen deficiency, however those levels fall only 40 to 60% during menopause whereas the levels of progesterone can drop to virtually nothing. Low progesterone can lead to a higher risk of and or mutual cancer that potentially breast cancer as well.
Low progesterone can also lead to women gaining weight, low bone density, difficulty sleeping and stress. All of these are reasons to incorporate hormone replacement into a menopause regimen, the question remains is whether or not B HR 28 is in fact the best way to go. So far, it looks extremely promising.
The Risks of Hormone Replacement Therapy for Women
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.