Risks Of Taking Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy is generally well-tolerated, but does come with some risks, Gersh says. These include:
- Increased risk of breast cancer, particularly for those who are on combination hormone replacement therapy for five years or longer, which can increase the risk by as much as 75% The use of estrogen alone for an average of seven years is not linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
What Are The Hormonal Changes During Menopause
The traditional changes we think of as “menopause” happen when the ovaries no longer produce high levels of hormones. The ovaries are the reproductive glands that store eggs and release them into the fallopian tubes. They also produce the female hormones estrogen and progesterone as well as testosterone. Together, estrogen and progesterone control menstruation. Estrogen also influences how the body uses calcium and maintains cholesterol levels in the blood.
As menopause nears, the ovaries no longer release eggs into the fallopian tubes, and youll have your last menstrual cycle.
How To Balance Hormones Naturally For A Better Menopause
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Have you heard that balanced hormones mean a balanced life? There might be some truth to this!
A hormones job in the body is enormous! They tell our organs when its time to go to work. They have the power to make our hearts beat faster and send signals to the brain that were hungry. Hormones also prepare the gut for incoming food and tell the body when its time to sleep.
Hormones are a family of molecules that act as messengers. After they are made in a specific gland, they will travel to other parts of the body to control and instruct how cells and organs do their work.
Whats more impressive? One hormone can play many hats and may influence other hormones to improve our overall body functions. For example, estrogen is a sex hormone, but it also contributes to the brain, heart, gut functioning, etc.
Since weve come to this topic, here are three hormones that may affect our menopause journey, plus learn how you can balance hormones naturally in 5 simple ways!
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The Difference Between Mht And Compounded Bioidentical Hormone Therapy
Compounded bioidentical hormone therapy has been touted as a safer and more effective MHT alternative. Bioidentical hormone therapy that is FDA-approved is a safer alternative and endorsed by all medical societies. There is no scientific evidence to back the claims of clinicians that prescribe non-FDA-approved cBHT. When a medication has FDA approval, it must adhere to certain quality standards. Non-FDA-approved cBHT formulations can vary greatly in purity and composition. A study and an investigative report by More magazine have proven this to be the case.
There is one exception where cBHT is appropriate. Some women may have no other alternative to compounding because of an allergy to one of the non-hormonal components in the FDA-approved medication. If you decide to use a compounding pharmacy, for whatever reason, check whether the company is accredited by the Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board.
Non-FDA-approved hormone pellet therapy is controversial. Endocrinologist and menopause expert, Dr. Nanette Santoro, explains why in this article.
How To Balance Estrogen During Menopause
Natural and effective menopause symptoms treatments start off with encouraging the implementation of less risky and invasive ways to promote hormonal balance in the body, which is through adjusting lifestyle behaviors.
Making lifestyle changes involves consuming an improved diet rich in essential macronutrients – lean protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs – and estrogen-boosting foods with phytoestrogens, plant-based estrogens getting regular exercise for at least 150 minutes a week and practicing wholesome habits for optimal endocrine system health, including quitting smoking and excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption.
Find increased effectiveness by pairing these methods with alternative medicines proven to encourage endocrine system health, including phytoestrogenic herbal supplements or hormone-regulating supplements.
Phytoestrogenic herbal supplements – including black cohosh, red clover, and St. John’s wort – contain stronger concentrations of phytoestrogens than foods, thus filling the estrogen gap in the body more effectively. However, because they introduce external hormones into the body, they are not to be used long-term. Being under close supervision of a certified herbalist is also recommended.
Some women may feel as if their hormonal situation is drastic enough that it warrants the use of pharmaceutical initiatives, such as the use of estrogen replacement therapy.
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Cardiovascular Disease And Hrt
Women over 60 have a small increased risk of developing heart disease or stroke on combined oral HRT. Although the increase in risk is small, it needs to be considered when starting HRT, as the risk occurs early in treatment and persists with time.
Oestrogen used on its own increases the risk of stroke further if taken in tablet form, but not if using a skin patch. Similarly, tibolone increases the risk of stroke in women from their mid-60s.
Women who commence HRT around the typical time of menopause have lower risks of cardiovascular disease than women aged 60 or more.
Diagnosis & Tests For Hormone Replacement Therapy
If you are age 45 and above, your doctor may not test you for signs and symptoms of menopause. Once symptoms occur, your doctor may examine you, take a personal and medical history, and work out lifestyle factors that improve your symptoms.
If you are under age 45, your doctor may perform blood tests to determine your hormone levels. They may also perform ultrasounds and physical exams to find the cause of your hormone deficiency.
Estrogen Therapy And Cancer Risk
In women who still have a uterus, using systemic ET has been shown to increase the risk of endometrial cancer . The risk remains higher than average even after ET is no longer used. Although most studies that showed an increased risk were of women taking estrogen as a pill, women using a patch or high-dose vaginal ring can also expect to have an increased risk of endometrial cancer.
Because of this increased cancer risk, women who have gone through menopause and who still have a uterus are given a progestin along with estrogen. Studies have shown that EPT does not increase the risk for endometrial cancer.
Long-term use of vaginal creams, rings, or tablets containing topical estrogen doses may also increase the levels of estrogen in the body. Its not clear if this leads to health risks, but the amounts of hormone are much smaller than systemic therapies.
ET is not linked to a higher risk of breast cancer. In fact, certain groups of women taking ET, such as women who had no family history of breast cancer and those who had no history of benign breast disease, had a slightly lower risk of breast cancer.
The WHI study of ET did not report any results about ovarian cancer.
To put the risk into numbers, if 1,000 women who were 50 years old took estrogen for menopause for 5 years, one extra ovarian cancer would be expected to develop.
ET does not seem to have any effect on the risk of lung cancer.
Side Effects Of Hormone Replacement Therapy
Common side effects of hormone replacement therapy include:
- Breast tenderness
- Mood swings
You are more likely to experience these mild side effects in the first week or two after starting hormone therapy, Hage says, but they usually go away within a few weeks after starting the therapy.
Less common side effects of hormone replacement therapy include:
- Skin irritation, particularly under an estrogen patch
- Black or brown spots
- Increased breast density
In most cases, side effects can be managed by changing the dosage or type of medication, Langdon says.
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Raw Dairy Products Are Good To Go
“If you can get them raw, cheeses, milk, and yogurts are highly beneficial,” says Dr. Forman. “These quality dairy products, unlike their pasteurized cousins, are very digestible and promote healthy bacteria in the gut, which is essential for digestion. They also supply good amounts of calcium for bone health.”
How Can I Reduce These Side Effects Of Hormone Therapy
In most cases, these side effects are mild and dont require you to stop your HT. If your symptoms bother you, ask your healthcare provider about adjusting either the dosage or the form of the HT to reduce the side effects. Never make changes in your medication or stop taking it without first consulting your provider.
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How Hormone Therapy Works
Hormone therapy usually is a prescription medication that provides estrogen to help ease the uncomfortable symptoms experienced during this time frame when estrogen levels are too low.
Because estrogen can cause a thickening of the uterine lining and an increased risk of uterine cancer, women who have not had a hysterectomy and still have a uterus should also include progestin in their hormone therapy. Adding this hormone reduces the risk of uterine cancer.
A combination of estrogen and progestin or estrogen alone can be taken as a pill or skin patch, which delivers the hormones into the bloodstream. Dr. Daskalos reports this is the most reliable solution for hot flashes and night sweats.
For women whose primary problem is vaginal dryness, topical estrogen in the form of a cream, tablet or ring may help.
The length of time a woman takes hormone therapy depends on how long her symptoms lasts. The general recommendation is to be on the lowest, most effective dose as long as is needed to help reduce menopausal symptoms.
Balance Blood Sugar To Feel Balanced Overall
Increased abdominal fat and weight gain, experienced by nearly 90 percent of women during menopause, are often directly connected to blood sugar imbalances.
The number 1 issue? Insulin resistance.
Your blood sugar levels are responsible for giving you stable energy and a feeling of overall body balance throughout the day.
Roller coaster-like blood sugar levels, on the other hand, bring about many of the same symptoms associated with menopause.
Insulin Resistance 101
Insulin is a hormone that is responsible for controlling your blood sugar balance, acting like a director for how your body uses the food you eat.
Insulin ensures that the just right amount of glucose and energy is in your blood at any one time.
However, if we have too much insulin circulating in the body at once , fat storage and menopause-like symptoms of blood sugar imbalances are common byproducts.
How does insulin resistance happen in the first place?
Imbalanced nutrition, poor gut health and elevated cortisol levels.
You dont necessarily need to be eating Hersheys candy bars or donuts every day for breakfast to experience insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can happen when:
The bottom line: Insulin resistance and blood sugar imbalances are common during the menopausal years. This is primarily because your body is more sensitive to the impacts of stress.
The GOOD news?
You can positively impact and support healthy blood sugar levels with these Do-Now Action Steps:
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Three Important Hormones In Menopause
The hormonal system is a complex and fragile system in the body. The same hormones that keep you happy and healthy may also cause distress. Hormonal imbalance happens throughout your life, but what you experience during menopause is different.
The dance of hormones during menopause means your hormone levels may go and up-down. These unpredictable shifts cause hormonal imbalances, which may result in a myriad of menopause symptoms. The three dominating hormones in your body include:
Can Menopause Affect My Sex Life
After menopause, your body has less estrogen. This major change in your hormonal balance can affect your sex life. Many menopausal women may notice that theyre not as easily aroused as before. Sometimes, women also may be less sensitive to touch and other physical contact than before menopause.
These feelings, coupled with the other emotional changes you may be experiencing, can all lead to a decreased interest in sex. Keep in mind that your body is going through a lot of change during menopause. Some of the other factors that can play a role in a decreased sex drive can include:
- Having bladder control problems.
- Having trouble sleeping through the night.
- Experiencing stress, anxiety or depression.
- Coping with other medical conditions and medications.
All of these factors can disrupt your life and even cause tension in your relationship. In addition to these changes, the lower levels of estrogen in your body can actually cause a decrease in the blood supply to the vagina. This can cause dryness. When you dont have the right amount of lubrication in the vagina, it can be thin, pale and dry. This can lead to painful intercourse.
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What To Look For When Choosing Menopause Supplements
When choosing a menopause supplement, look for ingredients such as black cohosh, red clover, and saint johns wort. These ingredients were found to be highly effective in peer-reviewed clinical trials. A lot of menopause supplements also contain phytoestrogens from soy and other plants, but their efficiency is still unknown.
Other than that, you will find many different ingredients in menopause supplements that treat symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, depression, and vaginal dryness. Because the FDA does not regulate dietary supplements, it can be hard to tell if the ingredients in your product are safe.
However, some products are manufactured in an FDA-approved facility and by the Good Manufacturing Practice guidelines, which is a sign that a product is safe for use.
Furthermore, look for products offering a money-back guarantee as this also is a sign that the manufacturer has your safety and satisfaction in mind. This also means you wont be throwing money away on products that dont offer any relief.
How Does Menopause Affect My Bladder Control
Unfortunately, bladder control issues are common for women going through menopause. There are several reasons why this happens, including:
- Estrogen. This hormone plays several roles in your body. It not only controls your period and promotes changes in your body during pregnancy, estrogen also keeps the lining of your bladder and urethra healthy.
- Pelvic floor muscles. Supporting the organs in your pelvis your bladder and uterus are called the pelvic floor muscles. Throughout your life, these muscles can weaken. This can happen during pregnancy, childbirth and from weight gain. When the muscles weaken, you can experience urinary incontinence .
Specific bladder control problems that you might have can include:
- Stress incontinence .
- Urge incontinence .
- Painful urination .
- Nocturia .
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What Is The Menopause
The menopause refers to that time in every womans life when her periods stop and her ovaries lose their reproductive function. Usually, this occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, but in a few exceptional cases women may become menopausal in their 30s, or even younger. This is then known as a premature menopause, or premature ovarian insufficiency.
The menopause is influenced by hormones or more correctly, by a change in hormone levels. During a womans fertile years, her ability to produce an egg each month is associated with the release of three reproductive hormones , that are referred to collectively as oestrogen. Oestrogen is mainly produced by the ovaries, though small amounts are also made by the adrenal glands and by the placenta of a pregnant woman.
It is oestrogen which stimulates female characteristics at puberty and controls a womans reproductive cycle: the development and release of an egg each month for implantation in the uterus , and the way in which the lining of the womb thickens to accept a fertilized egg. The monthly period happens because no implantation has taken place there is no pregnancy and the lining of the womb is shed.
At around the age of 50-55 years, the monthly cycle stops completely so no more ovulations, no more periods and no more pregnancies. This is the menopause.
What Is Hormone Therapy
During menopause, your body goes through major hormonal changes, decreasing the amount of hormones it makes particularly estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen and progesterone are produced by the ovaries. When your ovaries no longer make enough estrogen and progesterone, hormone therapy can be used as a supplement. Hormone therapy boosts your hormone levels and can help relieve some symptoms of menopause. Its also used as a preventative measure for osteoporosis.
There are two main types of hormone therapy:
- Estrogen therapy : In this treatment, estrogen is taken alone. Its typically prescribed in a low dose and can be taken as a pill or patch. ET can also be given to you as a cream, vaginal ring, gel or spray. This type of treatment is used after a hysterectomy. Estrogen alone cant be used if a woman still has a uterus.
- Estrogen Progesterone/Progestin Hormone Therapy : This treatment is also called combination therapy because it uses doses of estrogen and progesterone. Progesterone is available in its natural form, or also as a progestin . This type of hormone therapy is used if you still have your uterus.
Hormone therapy can relieve many of the symptoms of menopause, including:
- Hot flashes and night sweats.
- Vaginal dryness.
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Are There Any Side
HRT can cause tender breasts, water retention, weight gain, depression and nausea. These symptoms may depend on the type of HRT that is prescribed and women should seek advice from their doctor if they have concerns about the side-effects or they feel that they are unacceptable. For example, changing the type of prescription or reducing the overall dose of hormones may reduce unwanted side-effects.
It is recommended that HRT is only used to treat the short-term menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats, and only for a period of two to three years. Longer-term use has been linked with a small increase in the risk of breast cancer, blood clots in the veins and stroke. However, it is important to consider the balance of risks and benefits of taking HRT and this should be discussed with a doctor.
Bisphosphonates can cause a change in bowel habits, a feeling of sickness and tiredness, though these usually wear off after a few days of beginning treatment.