Hormone therapy is a treatment used to supplement the body with either estrogen alone or estrogen and progesterone combination, or bioidentical hormones. Estrogen and progesterone are hormones that are produced by the ovaries. When the ovaries no longer produce adequate amounts of these hormones as in menopause, Hormone therapy can be given to supplement the body with adequate levels of estrogen and progesterone.
Estrogen and Progesterone Why You Need Them
Estrogen and progesterone together thicken the lining of the uterus, preparing it for the possible implantation of a fertilized egg. Estrogen also influences how the body uses important minerals such as calcium and helps to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol.
As menopause nears, the ovaries reduce most of their production of these hormones. Lowered or fluctuating estrogen levels cause menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, mood swings, irritability & diminished sex drive. Hormone therapy helps to replenish the estrogen and progesterone levels to a more balanced level thereby relieving some of the symptoms and preventing osteoporosis.
The Importance of Progesterone
When taken without progesterone, estrogen increases a woman's risk for cancer of the endometrium (the uterus lining). During a woman's reproductive years, endometrial cells are shed each month. When the endometrium is no longer shed, estrogen can cause an overgrowth of cells in the uterus, a condition that can lead to endometrial cancer.
Progesterone reduces the risk of endometrial cancer by making the endometrium shed each month. As a result, women who take progesterone have monthly bleeding. Monthly bleeding can be lessened and, in some cases, eliminated by taking progesterone and estrogen together continuously.
Types of Hormone Therapy
Reasons Doctors Prescribe Estrogen Therapy
- Estrogen Therapy (ET): Estrogen is taken alone. Health care professionals most often prescribe a low dose of estrogen to be taken as a pill or patch every day. You should take the lowest dose of estrogen needed to relieve menopause symptoms.
- Progestin-Estrogen Therapy: Also called combination therapy, progestin-estrogen therapy combines doses of estrogen and progestin(is a synthetic form of progesterone not the same as progesterone). Estrogen and a lower dose of progesterone also may be given continuously to prevent the regular, monthly bleeding that occurs when progesterone is taken alone. The current recommendation is to take the lowest dose of hormone therapy for the shortest time consistent with the reason the woman is taking the therapy.
Progesterone and Progestin are not the same thing! Progesterone is Bioidentical to what the body produces while Progestin is synthetic progesterone created in a lab and unnatural to the body.
- Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy: Bioidentical hormone replacement is hormones that are made from plant derived sources and are identical to what the body produces and therefore they offer NO side effects.
Other benefits of taking hormone therapy include:
- Hot Flashes
- Vaginal Dryness that can cause painful intercourse.
- Prevention of osteoporosis
Risk of Hormone Therapy
- Reduced risk of developing osteoporosis and reduced risk of bone breakage.
- Improvement of mood and overall sense of mental well-being.
- Lowered risk of colon cancer
Possible health risks are of hormone therapy:
- An increased risk of endometrial cancer (if a woman still has her uterus and is not taking progesterone alone with estrogen)
- Increased risk of blood clots and stroke
- Increased risk of breast cancer in women taking estrogen-progestin therapy for more than four years. Estrogen alone has not been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer in the estrogen-alone arm of the Women's Health Initiative(WHI) study.
Natural Alternatives for Menopause Hormone treatment
- Increased risk of heart disease.
- Increased risk of stroke.
- Increased risk of gallbladder disease.
- Increase in blood pressure
- Increased risk of memory loss in older women who take hormone therapy several years after menopause.
Bioidentical Progesterone Cream with Phytoestrogens
Contains both progesterone and phytoestrogens which work together to provide women more effective control of their menopausal symptoms.
Menopause Formula (PhytoBalance)
PhytoBalance contains eight of the most tested and proven herbs that reduces hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, irritability, and depression associated with perimenopause and menopause.