What You Should Know Before Starting Hormone Replacement Therapy

Menopause, it’s something that all women get to look forward to in this life, but most aren’t looking forward to it at all.  It’s probably because of the stories we’ve all heard; mood swings, hot flashes in the middle of the night, waking up in cold wet sheets and not being interested in sex.  These are just a few of the symptoms that some women experience during this pivotal time of their lives, and it leaves them feeling like they’ve lost control of their bodies.

Many women turn to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to ease their symptoms.  Initially heralded as a miraculous cure for the symptoms of menopause, it’s no longer clear as to whether hormone replacement therapy is a healthy choice for treating symptoms of menopause.  HRT falls into two categories; synthetic and bioidentical.  Synthetic hormone replacements are usually made from molecularly altered horse hormones.  The Women’s Health Initiative in 2002 reported many dangerous side effects resulting from synthetic hormone replacement.  These included increased risk of breast cancer, stroke and heart attack.  During this time, some of the studies were even halted because preliminary study results indicated that the health risks of the synthetic hormone replacement exceeded the benefits.

Due to the public outcry resulting from these reports and others with similar findings, bioidentical HRT has become a popular alternative.  Bioidentical hormones, sometimes referred to as natural hormones, are those that are molecularly identical to the hormones that are produced by humans.  Although bioidentical hormones are generally regarded as a safer alternative, they are not without risk.  One of the more common risks associated with bioidentical HRT is taking too much.  Hormone creams, a popular method of administration of bioidentical hormones, can cause a gradual build up of hormone levels in the tissues over time, leading to toxicity.  Symptoms of hormone toxicity will often mimic symptoms of hormone deficiency.  For this reason, it is extremely important for women taking any form of hormone replacement to have their hormone levels checked on a regular basis.

While hormone replacement can be an effective tool in helping women through this trying time in their lives, it’s not always necessary and in some cases can do more harm than good.  If a woman is experiencing symptoms of menopause, it may indicate another underlying health concern such as adrenal fatigue or blood sugar imbalance.  Once these root causes are addressed, most women will not only be free of symptoms, but will feel better than they have in years.

Thanks Dr. Lindy V

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