This area of Medicine is somewhat underappreciated, and has been the subject of controversy over many years.
It is a common occurrence in women to begin to experience unpleasant symptoms in their late 40s, which if left untreated, usually will worsen in the 50s. The symptoms of hot flashes, poor sleep or lack of sleep, weight gain, vaginal dryness, low libido, poor concentration, and depressive symptoms, not only can be overwhelming and but prove too be difficult to deal with. Many women feel it is their destiny to suffer and endure these symptoms the best they can. However, degenerative diseases start developing, many of which are a direct result of menopause, i.e. absence of hormones: osteoporosis, heart disease, urinary incontinence, and cognitive decline. In the past, synthetic hormones were used with some degree of success in helping those symptoms, but proved to be risky in some respects. A Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study was completed in 2002. Its findings were discussed in all media circles, in turn, creating panic, fear and confusion among women and their doctors. The reason for the concern was, an increase in breast cancer among women who were on both synthetic/horse’s estrogen and synthetic progestin (not the same as Progesterone, although it sounds similar). Other complications, such as an increase in strokes, blood clots and heart attacks in older women, who started taking these hormones more than 10 years after the start of menopause were also documented. As a result of this study, a whole generation of women were denied hormones, because of a “hormones are bad for you” belief. Now 15 years later, these women present with advanced osteoporosis. Although, attempts are made to treat it with medicines, they bring along many side effects and dangers. To this day, there are doctors, mainly gynecologists, who still prescribe Prempro (synthetic estrogen and synthetic progestin), the very drug that was to blame for an increase of breast cancer and strokes. It’s unfortunate the option of using a safe, natural, bioidentical hormone is not offered to women for treatment of these symptoms and the prevention of degenerative diseases.
What is “bio-identical”?
Bio-identical refers to a chemical structure of a hormone, which is given to a postmenopausal woman as a replacement. The hormone has the same chemical structure as the one her own body was producing before the menopause. Thus, the body treats this supplementation as its own. When these types (bio-identical) of hormonal replacement are used, there are NO increased risk of breast cancer, blood clots or heart disease. According to a recent large study out of Australia, women who received adequate supplementation with bio-identical Testosterone, as part of hormone replacement therapy, were at lower risk for breast cancer then women who were never on hormones. Possibly, Testosterone for women, may play a protective role against breast cancer.
Testosterone plays a major role in men’s health. It is a main sex hormone for men. Not only responsible for sexual functioning, but also for muscle mass, bone mass, adequate cardiac and brain function. It has a major role in insulin sensitivity (controlling sugar metabolism), not to mention preventing depressive symptoms, insomnia and cognitive decline. About 50% of men as they age, lose production of this vital hormone and start exhibiting symptoms and signs of “aging”: losing muscles, gaining fat around mid-portion of the body, showing elevated glucose levels during blood tests, developing generalized fatigue, poor concentration, depressive symptoms and difficulties with libido and erections. Restoring Testosterone in these men results in improvement of many, if not all, of these symptoms.
Thyroid hormone is equally important for men and women. Disturbances in production of thyroid hormone can occur at any age, but appears to be most common for women, around their menopause time. Restoring it to its optimal levels (not just normal), brings relief to fatigue, weight gain, constipation, dry skin and depressive symptoms.
It is imperative to conduct a proper evaluation of hormones for any person who presents to their physician these concerns. If hormones are not properly tested, the conditions (symptoms) may be mistakenly labeled as “old age” or depression, which may not be the case.