Are you wondering if you are a candidate for hormone replacement because you feel totally sluggish and have gained weight (despite the fact you haven’t changed your diet or exercise routine?)
Still feeling “off” even though your doctor has you on hormone replacement?
Or maybe you are just “on the fence” and don’t know what to think because you are concerned about possible side effects of hormone replacement?
For women who don’t feel good because of menopausal hormone deficiencies, we often find that hormone replacement therapy can make a big difference.
It is important to know that there are different approaches to hormone replacement.
Here’s how we do it
We start by measuring your hormone levels. We only want to replace hormones that you are deficient in, so we can bring you back into balance.
We use bio-identical hormones, which are an exact match to the hormones your body used to make. These are available in FDA-approved forms from a regular pharmacy, or in customized preparations from a compounding pharmacy.
We monitor to make sure your symptoms are better and you are not having side effects.
Then we re-measure your hormone levels to make sure we have it right.
What is menopause?
Menopause is the time in a woman’s life when her ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone. You are considered menopausal if you have gone one whole year without a period. On average, this occurs at age 52, but can occur much earlier or later.
Typical symptoms may include:
- hot flashes
- depressed mood
- low libido
- vaginal dryness
- painful sex
- poor memory
- dry skin
- dry eyes
- thin or aging skin, including wrinkles
- weight gain
What is perimenopause?
As a woman approaches menopause, her hormone production may fluctuate wildly, causing all sorts of symptoms. Some women experience symptoms early – in some cases 10-15 years before menopause – so it can sometimes be hard to recognize that a hormone problem is the culprit!
Common symptoms of perimenopause include:
- night sweats
- mood swings
- waking up in the night
- worse PMS symptoms (like breast tenderness, fluid retention and bloating)
- longer PMS (lasting 1-2 weeks instead of just 1-2 days)
- heavier periods
- irregular periods or more frequent periods
- premenstrual spotting
- weight gain
What can be done?
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can provide relief from symptoms due to menopause and perimenopause.
There are a wide range of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy options including:
- topical creams
- vaginal creams or suppositories
- sublingual lozenges (called troches)
- pellets inserted under the skin
Some common options for hormone replacement (including both bioidentical and non-bioidentical options) are listed here.
What are bioidentical hormones?
The term “bio-identical” means that the hormone is an exact match to the hormone that your body makes. At least in theory your body shouldn’t be able to tell whether the hormone came from your body or from the pharmacy.
Bio-identical hormones start with an ingredient from soy or yam. It is converted to estrogen, progesterone or testosterone in the lab, and the finished product is the exact same thing as the estrogen, progesterone or testosterone made in your ovaries.
You can’t get the same effect by eating soy or rubbing yam cream on your skin…..
This is very different to the synthetic hormones that we have often used in women’s health. They are man-made chemicals that are made to mimic hormones, but they aren’t the exact same thing. Therefore the risks and benefits are not the exact same, and there are no lab tests to measure the level of these hormones in your body.
Is hormone replacement enough?
A prescription for hormone replacement will likely help with hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and other common symptoms.
For the best results we recommend addressing the “root-cause” factors that most likely contributed to your hormonal symptoms in the first place, including diet and lifestyle, toxins, stress and digestive health issues. Not all women have menopausal symptoms, so why you?
Are hormones safe?
While there are risks and benefits to everything, the benefits of hormone replacement far outweigh the risks for most women, especially women who are within 5-10 years of menopause.
If you are concerned about the risks of hormone replacement, you can find out more here.
There are some women who are not good candidates for menopausal hormone replacement, so a personalized approach is important.
If you are not a good candidate for estrogen replacement, or you don’t want menopausal hormone replacement therapy, it is still important for the rest of your hormones to be balanced! Cortisol, thyroid, insulin and other hormones are also important for optimal health.
Watch Dr. Matthew’s Interview on America’s Wellness Experts
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