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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.
A Natural Alternative to Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
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.
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.
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.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy - Do You Need It?
There is also medical evidence proving that hormone replacement therapy reduces the risk of developing cancer of the rectum or colon also known as colorectal cancer. The risk of coronary heart disease is also reduced when estrogen replacements are taken soon after menopause occurs. Maintaining normal levels of estrogen hormone reduces the risks of heart disease in these women. A combined prescription of both progestin and estrogen hormones is needed to avoid the risk of cancer of the uterus which may increase with the use of estrogen hormones alone. Replacement hormones are indeed the most widely used treatments used for symptoms associated with menopause.
Replacement hormone therapies not only help to solve problems related to menopause but they also facilitate graceful aging in women. Most of the ingredients which make these hormones are extracted from plants and are 100 percent identical to the hormones produced by the human body. It is important for women to have balanced hormone levels after menopause to avoid the aforementioned nagging symptoms. The replacement hormones come in different forms such as pills, creams, and oral supplements. Proper tests should however be done first to determine one's specific needs and thus help to identify an appropriate replacement therapy approach. Really this is a very interesting topic.
The essence of science based hormonal therapy is not to treat sickness but to maintain wellness. This is a dramatic change from the historical methodologies of health care in the U.S. Our nation's traditional measure of health care is actually "sick care". We wait until sickness before requesting medical interventions. The ideal way to address is health care is to prevent sickness rather than treat sickness. This new approach is what has inspired the new "hormone replacement clinics" as a standard of health and prevention.
Women often seek hormone replacement therapy from their physician for reasons related to menopausal symptoms. The object is not to prevent a natural process but to minimize the symptoms associated with menopause. Hormonal therapy helps restore hormones to eliminate or decrease the symptoms. Hormone therapy is not the use of a pharmaceutical to treat symptoms but assisting the body with additional natural hormones that are present but not in the quantity needed.
The hormonal therapy is not intended to enhance or exceed what our body normally produces but to supplement our body's ability to produce what once came naturally.
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Other improvements in the field of testosterone replacement therapy include different ways of administering testosterone. In the past, testosterone was taken in the form of pills. However, oral intake impacts the effectiveness of the therapy. Also, the medication has to be digested in the liver first before it is absorbed by the body. This dilutes the effect of the medicine and also puts the liver under tremendous stress. These days, testosterone is given through skin patches or injections so that absorption takes place transdermally.
Men undergoing testosterone replacement therapy are generally quite satisfied with the results they experience in terms of increased youthfulness, better muscle mass, lower body fat and of course, remarkable sex drive!
However, patients must be warned that they do not approach the therapy with unusually high expectations. The immediate effects of the therapy are quite intangible. Changes will be observed but these will be small changes only. Do not expect anything dramatic.