Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy for Women

 

Your hormones work together to orchestrate many of your bodily, cognitive, and behavioral functions.  Hormone imbalances can occur at any point in a woman’s life and can result in significant quality of life issues.  Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) can ease the symptoms of these hormone imbalances and significantly improve quality of life.  One of the most significant changes in a woman’s life is the onset of menopause, which really is a dramatic change in a woman’s hormones.  HRT, especially Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy, is an effective and safe therapy to manage the symptoms of hormone imbalances and deficiencies, to improve quality of life, and to decrease the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, bone fracture, and more.

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Is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy Safe?

Over the past 20 years considerable controversy has existed over the safety of hormone replacement therapy in women.  Much of this controversy began with the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study that began in 1991.  This study was stopped in 2002 because the researchers observed increased risk of breast cancer, coronary artery disease, stroke, and pulmonary embolism.  However, there are many controversies and criticisms of this study and its results.  The following lists seven big problems with the WHI and its interpretations:

  • Wrong Hormones.  The study used conjugated equine estrogens (horse hormones) and medroxyprogesterone acetate (Depo-Provera).  These are synthetic hormones and are not bio-identical hormones.  They are not naturally occurring human hormones.

  • Wrong Rout.  The estrogen was administered by mouth (orally).  We know that oral estrogen increases inflammation, increases cardiovascular risk, and increases breast cancer risk.  Whereas estrogen through the skin (transdermally) can be given safely. 

  • Wrong Symptoms.  Women who had moderate to severe menopausal symptoms were discouraged from participating in the study, this excluded many women who may have benefited the most from HRT.

  • Wrong Age.  The majority of women in this study were older and no longer experiencing any menopausal symptoms and already predisposed to coronary artery disease and cerebrovascular disease.This study was not applicable to women just entering menopause.Also, breast cancer takes 7-10 years to develop and the mean average of participants was 63.2 years old, implying that many of these women already had subclinical breast cancer.

  • Wrong Representation.  The study was also not an adequate representation of the most applicable women for HRT.Not only were the subjects older and no longer experiencing menopausal symptoms, the majority were also Caucasian, overweight, former smokers, and already had established risks for cardiovascular disease and cancer.

  • Dropout.  Additionally, there was a large dropout rate in this study, which is a potential source of significant bias in any longitudinal study.

  • Wrong Timing.  Finally, there was a problem with wrong timing.The authors stopped the study after only 5.2 years of follow-up.Given that most breast cancer takes 7-10 years to develop, most of the women diagnosed with breast cancer under this study already had subclinical breast cancer before they even started the study.Also, we know now that the reduction in heart disease with BHRT is really only seen after 5-6 years of treatment.

Menopause

 

As we age, we all experience a decline in our hormones.  With women this is experienced as a dramatic drop in the sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone that occurs during the process called menopause.  Menopause is more than your periods stopping, it is the time when a woman’s ovaries significantly drop their production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone.  Menopause usually occurs between 49 to 52 years of age, but the wider range can be from 35 to 55 years of age.  For many women, the symptoms of hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, mood swings, and weight gain can make this period in live very difficult to endure.  Even worse, many women will not seek safe and effective hormonal treatment for fear based on years of misinformation.  Here at Vivify Health & Wellness, we will provide you with the facts and help to guide you to make educated decisions on what to do with your body and your hormones.

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The tragedy of the WHI study is that millions of women were kept from hormonal treatments that would have improved their symptoms, improved their risk for cardiovascular disease, improved their risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s, improved their bone health, and improved their overall quality of life.  The truth about HRT with women is that in most cases bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can be done very safely with a trained health care provider, careful examination, and laboratory follow up.  Contact us today to find out if Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy is right for you.

References:

  • Clark, James H. "A critique of Women’s Health initiative studies (2002-2006)." Nuclear receptor signaling 4 (2006).

  • Goldman, John A. "The Women's Health Initiative 2004-review and critique." 6.3 (2004).

  • Harman, S. Mitchell, et al. "Timing and duration of menopausal hormone treatment may affect cardiovascular outcomes." 124.3 (2011): 199-205.

  • Klaiber, Edward L., William Vogel, and Susan Rako. "A critique of the Women’s Health Initiative hormone therapy study." 84.6 (2005): 1589-1601.

  • Writing Group for the Women's Health Initiative Investigators. "Risks and benefits of estrogen plus progestin in healthy postmenopausal women: principal results from the Women's Health Initiative randomized controlled trial." Jama 288.3 (2002): 321-333.

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