Woman and Menopause

 

This area of Medicine has been a subject of controversy for years.

Many women in the their 40s, some even in the late 30s, start to develop feelings of being tired, gaining weight, feeling depressed, losing muscle mass ,their libido is decreasing, some have hot flashes and difficulty sleeping. These symptoms usually get worse in the 50s. Women of the past felt it was their destiny to suffer and endure these symptoms the best they can. Later in life degenerative diseases start developing, many of which are a direct result of menopause, i.e. absence of hormones: osteoporosis, heart disease, urinary infections, urinary incontinence, and cognitive decline.

The definition of menopause is: a cessation of production of three main hormones in the woman’s ovaries, either naturally around age 50 or surgically: Estradiol, Progesterone, Testosterone (Yes, Testosterone as well! Women and men both share this hormone, though in different quantities).

The idea of restoring these lost hormones to help with symptoms and long term diseases is not new. In the past, only synthetic hormones were available. While they had their benefits, they also exposed women to unnecessary risks: increased risk of breast cancer (mostly from synthetic progestin Provera), increased risk of blood clots, uterine cancers, heart disease and strokes in some women. A Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study was completed in 2002 .Its findings were discussed widely and sensationally in all media circles, creating panic, fear and confusion among women and their doctors. The main drug of WHI study was Prempro (Premarin combined with Provera): horse-derived estrogen and synthetic progestin. Subsequent analysis of data confirmed that the main culprit of negative outcomes was indeed Provera (synthetic progestin, which is different from Progesterone, naturally occurring in the woman’s body). Media did not distinguish between the two names that sounded very similarly, thus Progesterone received a bad press for years. As a result of this study, a whole degeneration of women was denied hormone therapy because of “hormones are bad for you” belief. Now almost two decades later, these women present with advanced osteoporosis, perpetual urinary infections and urinary incontinence. There are medications, such as antibiotics and bisphosphonates to treat them, although with multiple risks and side effects. These condition are better prevented that treated. To this day unfortunately Prempro is still being prescribed by some doctors, the very drug that was to blame for increased risks of cancer and heart disease.

Currently, it is no longer necessary to use synthetic hormones. There are natural and safe alternatives to help women feel their best.

Term “Bioidentical” refers to a chemical structure of a hormone: given to a woman as a replacement they are the same as her body was producing once on its own prior to menopause. This term is more accurate than “natural”. A woman may not be allergic to them since she was not allergic to the ones produced by her own body.

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