Beauty in Life After Menopause

I hate to say it, but it’s true. There was a time when doctors told women that the symptoms they were describing about the state of their hormonal health were all in their head. 

Historically, women’s health issues were either not taken as seriously as men’s or most trials and experimental studies were conducted on men, making women have to wait for (or die from) the lack of progress made on women’s health issues.

 

When women continued to ask repeatedly what could be done to help them overcome peri-menopausal and menopausal symptoms, the medical community at one point finally stopped telling them they had to simply accept this “change of life” and began looking for remedies. 

For more than six decades now, most menopausal women have been treated with HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy), using synthetic or “nonhuman” hormones. The point was to keep women young and to retain their femininity. Premarin was the very first brand of HRT in America, made up of equine (horse) estrogens. Beginning in the 1950’s, however, there was a growing concern over this form of treatment, since statistics showed a spike in the incidences of uterine cancer in women using it. It took a while before the drug company that produced Premarin developed Prempro. It added a synthetic progestin to balance off the hormone replacement elixir.

Doctors back then were actually trained to believe that this synthetic form of HRT prevented heart disease, kept women’s skin and brains youthful, built strong bones, and caused very few side effects. The majority of post-menopausal women were encouraged by their doctors to start a regimen of pills (and eventually patches) to eliminate hot flashes, mood swings, insomnia, and weight gain. In fact, it was considered malpractice if you did NOT prescribe HRT for menopausal women at the time.

Then in the 1990s, a number of women began questioning this practice. Did ALL women need it? Why were the doses the same for everyone? How does pregnant horse urine really affect the female body over the long term and are there any alternatives out there that can help them if they simply want a more natural solution?  Problem was, at the time most women using this therapy would not have even considered the possibility of stopping treatment not only because they had been relieved of the bothersome symptoms of menopause, but also because of the fears injected into their by their physicians, who were simply saying what they were trained to say. 

Then, in 2002, an extensive study was published by WHI (Women’s Health Institute), the finding of which overwhelmed the medical community. It looked at the effects of Premarin and Prempro and found that they not only did NOT decrease a woman’s chance of getting heart disease, but actually increased her risk of blood clotting, stroke and breast cancer. 

No one wanted to hear this news.

Right after this study came out, a massive number of disillusioned women simply opted to discontinue their HRT and began seeking alternative treatments to help them with their menopausal symptoms. After all, hot flashes seemed like a small price to pay for not experiencing the potentially more serious side effects. 15 years later, research is still being done to see if these earlier findings were conclusive, especially when therapy was initiated with younger women during peri-menopause. Current findings indicate that there are even differences between the effects of a 50-year-old woman placed on HRT in contrast with a woman who begins this regimen ten or more years after the onset of menopause. 

It was then that “bioidentical” became the buzzword among women and natural health practitioners seeking different forms of therapy.  The biochemical structure of the hormone is formulated to be identical to the main hormones that are naturally produced in a woman’s body. Unlike a contrived substance like horse urine, it replaces what a woman’s body produces naturally, typically manufactured by our endocrine system and principally the ovaries — estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone — which naturally decline as the ovaries stop releasing eggs.

Why did women have to wait so long? As a medical professional, I never want to throw pharmaceutical companies under the bus, since they have manufactured millions of life-saving drugs. But their job is to create nonhuman estrogens and progestins in order to get patents, hoping against hope that what they produce will not have a negative impact on a woman’s body. 

Today, we know that even different varieties of birth control pills, which are examples of synthetic estrogens and progestins, can each have different side effects. Some women cannot tolerate birth control pills at all. The same can be said with hormone replacement therapy, whether bioidentical OR synthetic.  As we are all different, what works for one may not work or another. So when I get your blood test or saliva tests back and study the results, I will prescribe only the dosage of HRT your body seems to lack, often starting out with a lower dose and doing the “wait and see” before adjusting it. 

Symptoms of an imbalance of hormones are not limited only to the symptoms I mentioned earlier, however. They also include vaginal dryness, low libido, anxiety, poor sleep,  joint pain, bloating, hair loss, back pain, and depression. No longer are symptoms like these an inevitable effect of menopause and aging, since using bioidentical hormone replacements can seriously reduce them. 

To get more information about bioidentical estrogen, give me a call at (916) 781-4300 or contact us online.