Today’s reported that the 25 million American women who will turn 50 years old over the next decade are facing a decision whether or not to use hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Many of these women are experiencing the symptoms of menopause, as their naturally occurring hormones are declining and are out of balance. The solution is to replace their declining hormones with HRT to resolve their symptoms and restore them to good health, however, which type of HRT should women choose?
First of all, menopause is the time in a woman’s life when her menstrual periods cease. This natural part of aging occurs when the ovaries stop making hormones called estrogens, marking the end of her reproductive period. Menopause can also occur when the ovaries are surgically removed or stop functioning. Some of the common symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, night sweats, sleepless nights, memory loss, depression, mood swings, fatigue and low libido.
It is critical that women are educated about the types of hormone replacement therapy that are available, because their health and quality of life depends upon it. There are synthetic hormones, which are foreign to the human body, and bioidentical hormones, which are identical to the hormones made by your body. Common sense should tell you which one is the right choice.
Examples of synthetic hormones are Premarin, Provera, and Prempro. Premarin is horse estrogen derived from pregnant mare urine. Provera is medroxyprogesterone, or progestin, not progesterone. Prempro is a combination of the two. It seems almost inevitable that every time the media mentions the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study, they fail to clarify the type of HRT that was used in the study. Synthetic hormones were used in the WHI and were found to raise the risk of heart disease, stroke and breast cancer.
It is encouraging, however, that this article from a major mainstream news source, mentions that there are more hormone treatment options today in different formulas and combinations that come in patches, gels, rings, creams, sprays and suppositories, which allow doctors to fine-tune the dosage for each individual. Bioidentical hormones allow for such individualized treatment.
Wolf Utian, founder and former president of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), misleads women with his statement: “If you minimize a woman’s exposure to progesterone, you minimize her slight risk of breast cancer.” Dr. Utian is referring to progestin, not progesterone. Progesterone helps prevent breast cancer. It is unfortunate that mainstream doctors still refer to progestins as progesterone – they are completely different molecules.
The article also states: “There’s still no simple answer.” Yes, there is. Replace the hormones that are missing in your body with hormones that are identical to those that your body makes – bioidentical hormones. Women should not fear hormones. Hormones are crucial to the proper functioning of the human body.
Women should fear synthetic hormones, however. Synthetic hormones should not be an option. It makes no sense to prescribe a drug to treat a symptom of an underlying hormone deficiency when the deficiency itself is so easily remedied by physiologic replacement doses of the natural hormone.