Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy for Women
Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy is a revolutionary method of regulating hormonal disharmonies. Hormone replacement therapy has been around for over 60 years, and in the past, doctors prescribed the same hormones and dosages of hormones to all women experiencing age related hormone decline, regardless of symptoms and actual chemical imbalances. Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy allows for doctors to take each woman’s individual environmental, psychological, genetic, and physical factors into consideration when prescribing hormones.
Women may experience hormonal imbalances during the reproductive years and during or after menopause. During the reproductive years, women may suffer from an overabundance of male hormones. This can cause the condition known as PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. During perimenopause and menopause, women can experience age related hormone imbalances. Perimenopause occurs when hormone production begins to decrease, and it can last from 4 to 6 years. Menopause begins when the ovaries close down reproduction and stop producing adequate amounts of sex hormones, which include estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
During perimenopause and menopause, vital hormones that directly affect sex hormones and their functions may also be influenced. Age related hormone decline, stress, illnesses, and poor nutrition cause important hormones such as cortisol and melatonin to become imbalanced. When cortisol and melatonin are excessive or deficient, health related issues result. Bio-identical Hormone Therapy may be able to balance hormonal excesses or deficiencies to restore health and increase the quality of life.
Menopause is the time in a woman’s life when ovarian production of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone starts to decline, and is defined as the absence of no menstrual cycle for one year. Peri-menopause, or the slow decline of hormones preceding menopause, can start in a woman’s late 30s, years before the onset of menopause.
Millions of women cope with the symptoms of peri-menopause and menopause every day. What you eat, your level of physical activity, and how much stress you experience on a daily basis influence the severity of the symptoms.
Symptoms of peri-menopause or menopause may include:
- Resistant weight gain
- Thinning hair
- Loss of libido
- Frequent urination
- Sleeping difficulties
- Loss of bladder control
- Vaginal dryness
- Joint pains
- Loss of breast fullness
- Night sweats
Symptoms can vary greatly from person to person, but often a major part of the solution is bio-identical hormone balancing. Bio-identical hormones look and act the same as the hormones produced naturally by the body.
Cortisol is one of the only hormones that increase with age. This hormone is related to stress, and when a person experiences physical, emotional, or mental stress, the adrenal glands release cortisol. When a person has experienced long periods of stress, the adrenal glands begin to convert sex hormones into cortisol in order to physiologically deal with the stress. If a person is already experiencing age related hormone decline, an increased demand for cortisol can tap the adrenal’s reserves of sex hormones to cause an even greater deficit of sex hormones. Symptoms of cortisol imbalances can include weight gain, lowered immunity, unstable blood sugar, increased inflammation, and mental or physical fatigue.
Melatonin is another hormone that influences sex hormones, and it functions to set the body’s cycles and internal clocks. Melatonin deficiencies are usually caused by aging, alcohol, caffeine, and medications, and melatonin decline usually occurs during perimenopause or menopause. Melatonin influences the release of sex hormones, and if it is deficient, sex hormones are not properly released into the body. When melatonin is deficient, a woman may experience excess cortisol levels, poor moods, decreased sleep quality, lowered immune function, and increased toxicity.
Estrogen is produced by the ovaries and works with progesterone to maintain numerous functions in the body. Estrogen affects the brain, the body’s cycles, and reproduction. During the reproductive years, it is produced by the ovaries, and after menopause, it is produced by the adrenal glands. Estrogen deficiencies may cause hot flashes, anxiety, a poor memory, insomnia, low libido, and vaginal dryness.
Progesterone helps to balance estrogen, maintain a pregnancy, regulate menstruation, and aid in the formation of embryos. If progesterone becomes deficient, estrogen may become excessive and begin to dominate the body. Excess estrogen may promote breast tissue growth, which can lead to breast cancer. In this way, a progesterone deficiency can give a woman an increased risk for breast cancer. Other symptoms of a progesterone deficiency may include infertility, frequent miscarriages, weight gain, migraine headaches, anxiety, osteoporosis, and insomnia.
While testosterone is primarily a male hormone, it is present in smaller amounts in females. In women, testosterone is produced by the adrenal glands, and if the adrenal glands are healthy, they produce healthy amounts of testosterone. Testosterone imbalances in women can occur during perimenopause, menopause, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS, or in instances of adrenal fatigue. In PCOS, women have an excess of male hormones, which can cause fluid filled sacs to surround the ovaries, an overgrowth of body hair, acne, weight gain, and irregular periods. When testosterone becomes deficient due to perimenopause or menopause, women may experience decreased bone health, muscle atrophy, decreased libido, low motivation, and depression.