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What Is HarnettHormone 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. Harnett HRT replaces hormones your body no longer makes. It’s the most effective treatment for menopause symptoms.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy - Do You Need It?
Testosterone is a major player in the complex mielu of hormones (cellular messengers) that direct our bodies to function. In men who are over the age of 40, there is a significant drop in this level of this hormone. Until recently it was considered taboo to replace this important hormone. But today forward thinking anti-aging specialists realize what scientific studies over the past decade have taught us.
As with women who have gone through the change of life, replacement of their sexual hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone) enact major health benefits such as osteoporosis prevention, heart disease prevention and increases in cognitive function. Likewise for older male subjects the benefits of the addition of testosterone under careful physician management is a crucial aspect of maintaining good health. I wish in this article to dispel some misconceptions about Testosterone Replacement Therapy and provide a list to readers of the benefits of this simple and safe treatment.
First of all there is overwhelming evidence in the scientific literature that testosterone does not cause prostate cancer. In actuality it is the unbalanced estrogen excess in man that is implicated in prostate cancer.
The caveat here is that once there is prostate cancer, testosterone which is an anabolic (building) hormone can promote cancer growth, but contrary to the popular belief, even within the medical field, it does not cause cancer. With advancing age Testosterone levels drop while estrogen levels rise and compete for binding sites on the prostate gland as well as other cells in the body causing a hormonal havoc.
Such problems as an increase in adipose tissue with midsection obesity, a decrease in muscle mass, generalized hormonal imbalances (growth hormone, estrogen, thyroid), depression, increased cholesterol and lipid dysfunction, glucose and insulin imbalance, decreased coronary artery elasticity, elevated blood pressure and loss of a feeling of well being result from low testosterone levels. Supplementing Testosterone in the appropriate candidates reverses these unwanted outcomes, but it is not as simple as taking a pill. There are enzymes in our body that can change exogenous testosterone into other undesirable hormones such as Estrodiol and DHT. Therefore, a physician that understands the balancing act and has the ability to monitor these other hormones is best to treat such a disorder.
Along with the correct replacement modality (cream, gel or patch) there are other considerations which halt the trend of testosterone conversion and these are usually supplemented along with testosterone. Such supplements are Saw palmetto, Zinc and Nettle extract to name a few. In a recent study of the Androderm patch after a 12-month period a depression score dropped by nearly one half with testosterone replacement alone. Again men with complaints of fatigue receiving testosterone in one study had symptoms of fatigue drop for 79% to 10%. A Medline medical literature search reveals many more positive outcomes of testosterone replacement. For those interested in finding out more about their bodies, there is a non-invasive home testing kit available at the Saleeby Longevity Institute which allows men to evaluate the levels of testosterone in circulation.
Andropause the male menopause
by J.P. Saleeby, MD
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.
Are you entering the menopause stage of life and are seeking an alternative HRT, hormone replacement therapy? Do you have a loss of bladder control caused by weakened pelvic floor muscles?
Then strengthening those muscles through exercise could be the answer and Kegel Exercise can help as a part of an alternative hormone replacement therapy.
Many women with have a loss of bladder control as they reach menopause. But there is good news! Exercising the muscles located around the vaginal opening and anus several times each day can bring positive results within eight weeks.
This exercise works even for older women.
These exercises are referred to as 'Kegel' exercises, named after Dr. Arnold Kegel, the surgeon who developed this therapy.
Hormone Therapy: What It Is and How It Can Help You
I agree with Dr. Christiane Northrup, a leading expert on women's health and wellness when she writes in her Nov 2009 Huffington Post Blog entry. Dr. Northrup posts: "I encourage every woman to learn about the hormone therapy options available today. They are vast, and there are many excellent choices made from bio-identical hormones. I also encourage every woman to look with a critical eye when reading the news about HRT. It's likely that there will continue to be controversial and conflicting information."
While my own personal preference is for all natural remedies, and I would not consider HRT, I do believe that we women deserve to have ALL of the information available to make an informed choice regarding our own health and wellness. Therefore, I am recommending that you ask your doctor for more information on bio-identical hormone replacement and do your research on the latest studies, as well as the many choices for all natural symptom relief like the tips and techniques that can be found here. Then you will have the information without the hype.
Best of Health,
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.
HRT Vs Natural - And the Winner Is?
A follow up study to the Women's Health Initiative showed that not only did it increase the risk of breast cancer, but that the type of breast cancer was more deadly. Other studies show that HRT also increases risk for gall stones, kidney stones, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer and uterine bleeding.
Side effects of HRT
While the press has spoken more about the risks of HRT recently, one doesn't hear much about side effects. Shorter term complaints or side effects that women have with HRT include nausea and vomiting, breast tenderness, vaginal bleeding, skin discoloration (particularly patches on the face), headaches, depression, anxiety, nervousness and irritability, fluid retention and bloating, acne and greasy skin.
It's not a very rosy picture. The majority of women are now deciding against hormone replacement therapy for relief of menopausal complaints. Instead they are turning to natural approaches such as herbs that contain estrogen like molecules, and estrogen rich foods.