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What Is Skippers CornerHormone 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. Skippers Corner HRT replaces hormones your body no longer makes. It’s the most effective treatment for menopause symptoms.
Bioidentical Hormones - What Are They?
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.
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.
As a woman ages, it is a given fact that she will be hitting her menopause some time in her mid forties. It is also a given that a number of physical and psychological changes accompany this event. Thinning hair, dry skin and wrinkles are some of the effects of menopause. But, what about men? Do they experience something similar?
According to many doctors, many men experience a number of symptoms that are directly associated with their age. As a practicing doctor in Dublin, Ireland put it, men too suffer from a list of problems peculiar to aging. This includes:
* Flailing energy levels
* Depleting sex drive
* Erectile dysfunction
* Increased fat in the midriff area
* Decreased muscle mass
* Falling strength
The Risks of Hormone Replacement Therapy for Women
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.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association about Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) stated, "Results of a new Women's Health Initiative (WHI) report show that hormone therapy is associated with an increased the risk of death from breast cancer, as well as an increased risk of developing invasive breast cancer in postmenopausal women."
The news media immediately raised an alarm with headlines shouting the dangers of HRT, but what the media failed to mention was that the particular hormone replacement therapy being tested was a synthetic drug called Prempro. Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy was not included in this study. The term bio-identical means it's a hormone from Mother Nature. Extracts from soybeans and yams are converted into a treatment that matches your own body's hormones exactly. Synthetic HRT is made from horse urine and therefore, not a natural hormone for humans. Well, now, all of the proponents of bio-identical HRT are shouting louder to be heard above the roar of controversy that this study caused, making things even more confusing than they already were.
Bioidentical Hormones - The Truth About Using Them During Menopause
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.