Hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, brain fog, decreased sex drive, fatigue, hair loss, poor memory, sleep problems and anxiety – all symptoms of menopause, right? Well you may be correct, these are all common symptoms of fluctuating or changing hormone levels. But what should you do with all of the controversy regarding hormonal replacement therapy (HRT)? One day you hear hormones cause blood clots, strokes and heart disease. The next day everything sounds great about HRT and your physician gives you a completely different opinion.
Every day 3,500 women in the United States enter menopause, yet many are frightened and confused about the synthetic HRT treatments still being offered by their doctors – mainly Premarin, Provera or PremPro. Most women are now aware of the dangers of these treatments, yet are never told or offered any real positive alternatives.
There is good news! There is an alternative treatment with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). BHRT has been used successfully by physicians for over fifty years. When asked, women who have chosen this type of treatment are delighted with how much their menopause symptoms have improved. They also report few, if any, of the side effects that they experienced from synthetic hormone treatments.
Bioidentical hormones are natural medications. They are manufactured by pharmaceutical companies from the Mexican wild yam. The natural thing about these hormones is that they are identical to the molecular formula of hormones our body makes. Bioidentical estradiol (the most common estrogen) looks like the estradiol your body makes, progesterone looks like progesterone your body makes and testosterone looks like the testosterone that your body makes. They truly are identical! Replacing and replenishing these hormones allows your body to function normally and optimally, thus avoiding all of those symptoms that affect your day to day life.
Bioidentical estradiol, progesterone and testosterone are FDA approved. Estradiol and testosterone can only be obtained by prescription through a licensed medical practitioner. Progesterone is the only bioidentical hormone available without prescription in low doses, usually in a topical cream form.
Bioidentical hormones are made by compounding pharmacies. These are independent labs which dispense hormones along with custom mixed medications for conditions like asthma, pain and intravenous uses. Compounding is the original form of dispensing prescription medications, which existed long before the pharmaceutical companies came into being.
Bioidentical hormones are available in a variety of forms such as oral pills, transdermal patches, creams, lotions, vaginal rings or sublingual drops. Synthetic hormones are usually available only in pill form. Topical applications avoid the “first-pass” metabolism through the liver and will deliver a consistent amount of the hormones to each and every cell in your body.
Bioidentical estrogen (usually in the form of estradiol and estriol) will help with estrogen deficiency symptoms such as vaginal dryness, mood swings, hot flashes and night sweats. Bioidentical progesterone is helpful in reducing anxiety and improving sleep disorders. Progesterone is also the “balancing” hormone that helps balance the potential side effects of unopposed estrogen. Bioidentical testosterone helps improve libido, energy, brain fog and muscle strength. Many clinicians will overlook the importance of progesterone and testosterone when trying to balance your hormonal needs.
It is important to realize that other hormones play an important role in how you feel. Thyroid and adrenal hormone levels often affect women as they reach perimenopause or menopause. Midlife often brings stresses such as relationship issues, financial issues, caring for aging parents, teenagers or stress in the work place that may cause imbalance with these important hormones. A good clinician utilizes their experience, judgment and appropriate laboratory testing to help determine the best course of action for your hormonal needs. Bioidentical hormone replacement is an option that all women should consider if they are struggling with the symptoms of hormone imbalance. You should take the time to learn about what options you have and then partner with your physician to make the choice that is best for you. Once you understand more about BHRT you may realize that there really is little hype or fear…just lots of HOPE!
The Wycoff Wellness Center's approach to female hormone replacement is as follows:
* An initial comprehensive review of your medical history
* An appropriate physical examination
* Obtain any needed appropriate testing (blood, urine or saliva hormone testing)
* Initiate appropriate dietary changes
* Initiate appropriate vitamin, mineral or nutrients
* Replace hormones with bioidentical hormones as needed and appropriate
The Wycoff Wellness Center's approach is a comprehensive approach to achieving hormone balance. We will individualize the program to meet your needs and improve your health and wellness naturally!