Many women are looking for alternatives to traditional hormone replacement therapy due to the results of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). The WHI was initiated by the U.S. National Institutes for Health (NIH) in 1991. The study was designed to assess the major health benefits and risks of the most commonly used combined hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in the United States. About 160,000 post-menopausal women aged 50-79 years old with an intact uterus in the study were put on conjugated equine estrogen (Premarin) with synthetic progestin (Provera). The study was planned to last 8.5 years but after 5.2 years in 2002 the study was halted due to the results showing the use of these two HRT drugs resulted in coronary heart disease with invasive breast cancer as the primary adverse results. In addition, the studies showed increased risk of stroke, pulmonary embolism, endometrial cancer, colorectal cancer, hip fracture and death due to other causes (http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=195120). Based on this study, they determined the risk did not out-weigh the benefits to continue these two common HRT medications.
Bio-identical hormones provide an alternative to address the symptoms associated with peri and post menopause to provide an easy transition while maintaining your vitality and reduce your comparative risk with traditional HRT to serious diseases. Bio-identical hormones are derived from natural sources, such as, soybean, yam, or other plants. Unlike synthetic hormones and many traditional HRT drugs, bio-identical hormones are found in plants that have the same chemical structure as our own bodies. So our bodies can easily utilize these hormones in a natural physiological manner. In addition, bio-identical hormones are individualized to your own specific needs and use weaker forms and doses of estrogen to reduce associated risk of disease.
Bio-identical hormone formulations can use the weaker form of estrogen, estriol, alone or use a combination of estrogens known as a bi-est. Traditional HRT drugs use 100% estradiol, while a common bio-identical formulation uses 80% estriol and 20% estradiol, know as a bi-est. These percentages and doses can be changed to create a specific prescription that is just right for you and your body. In addition to estrogen, the use of bio-identical progesterone may be associated with protective effects of estrogen from cancer. Natural progesterone helps to counter balance the negative effects of estrogen. When there is not enough progesterone to counterbalance estrogen, one may begin to have symptoms of estrogen dominance, such as, PMS, heavy or irregular periods, irritability, weight gain, hair loss, low libido, fibrocystic breasts, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids. Furthermore, low levels of testosterone and Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) associated with fatigue and low libido can be prescribed in a bio-identical formula perfect for your specific needs. These formulation can be make in a cream, capsule, lozenge or vaginal suppository.
Bio-identical hormones can be individualized to meet the needs of the patient versus the “one size fits all” approach of common HRT drugs. Bio-identical hormones provide women with a safer alternative to traditional HRT and provide symptomatic relief of common menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, low libido, low energy, and vaginal dryness.
Our physicians at Arizona Natural Medicine are highly skilled at prescribing bio-identical hormone replacement that is individualized to your specific needs. We look forward to the opportunity to assist you with addressing your hormonal needs and getting you back to balance.