Hormone Replacement Therapy

Hormone replacement therapy is something that should be carefully considered. Having gone through, well still going through, menopause I feel it is important to analyze exactly how serious your symptoms are before considering HRT. I have friends who just went on HRT because they were in menopause and their doctor suggested it. They didn’t like the hot flashes and night sweats and felt foggy, like they were missing something. Yes, I had hot flashes and night sweats, never felt foggy or depressed, but I never felt it was so bad that I needed a pill to fix it. HRT is a very individual decision. I believe how you feel about yourself in this enlightening time of life is indicative of how you will react to the symptoms. I was excited about these changes, I didn’t hate myself for getting gray hair and wrinkles and not having the same body I once had. I think a woman should examine her relationship to her changing body before embarking on HRT. I would even go so far as to recommend some counseling about growing older to get a better perspective on menopause.

Some history of HRT may help here. In the old days becoming fertile and knowing your cycle was important. Women had to stay in touch with their bodies if they wanted to plan their pregnancies. This all changed with birth control pills. Menopause was a right of passage that women looked forward to, no more periods, no more worry about getting pregnant, a time to be themselves again after many years of childbearing and raising of offspring. Now you can control or stop your periods if you want, no need to worry about unwanted pregnancies and staying in touch with your body has no place in this fast paced society, just take a pill. Premarin was introduced in 1949 and is still one of the top HRT’s prescribed. Premarin is estrogen taken from a pregnant mare’s urine. It was not only supposed to stop all menopausal symptoms, it was believed that it was beneficial for women’s cardiovascular health, lifted depression, thickened vaginal tissue, prevented osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. Later studies showed that estrogen replacement was linked to breast cancer, however the belief that HRT was so important to cardiovascular health caused doctors to overlook the cancer risk and keep on prescribing it. In the 1970’s estrogen was linked to uterine cancer. It was found that by adding progesterone to estrogen the uterine cancer risk was decreased significantly. By the turn of the millennium, studies showed that HRT did not have the cardiovascular benefits once thought and that the risks outweighed the benefits. After years of telling women that menopause was a deficiency state that could be cured with a pill, women began to view menopause differently. It was realized that HRT was not the single one size fits all cure that it once was.

Today we have other options. Bioidentical hormones are the same as the hormones that our bodies produce. They are synthetically produced from hormone precursors found in soybeans and yams, their molecular structure is the same as hormones found in women’s bodies. Our bodies recognize them and they are better utilized than hormones from a horse’s urine. They have a lesser chance of unpredictable side effects than synthetic hormones. Synthetic hormones are made by altering the molecular structure of a hormone. They do this because these products can be patented and therefore are a marketable substance. Bioidentical hormones cannot be patented and are of no use to pharmaceutical company’s, as they cannot make a profit from them. Physicians and pharmaceutical company’s for this reason overlook bioidentical hormones. Synthetic hormones having a different molecular structure than our hormones have different biological effects than bioidentical hormones, and some side effects. For example, progestin (synthetic progesterone) can be implicated as a risk factor for stroke, heart disease, and breast cancer.

Hormone levels can be tested and the combination of hormones, how much, and how long you should take them can now be designed specifically for each individual woman. Bioidentical hormones come from a compounding pharmacy, which makes a product tailored to your individual needs.

Again making the decision whether or not to take HRT, and what form, is a choice not to be taken lightly. For those who chose not to use any form of HRT there are many natural herbs and supplements that can be of great help during this transition. You may want to work with diet and these natural remedies before resorting to HRT, that too is an option. I was able to control my hot flashes significantly with diet and herbs, and I believe anyone can do the same.


Submitted by Tricia @ Nutrition by Tricia





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