Laura G Owens ~ Writer

Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do, you apologize for the truth. – Benjamin Disrael

Tag: Dr. John Lee

Hormone replacement therapy. When is it right for you?

Photo - Sally Howard

(Photo credit: Sally Howard)

Feeling off?

Forgetful? Sweaty? Waking up in the middle of the night? Less interested in sex? Increasingly stressed, unfocused or irritable?

Your doctor might suggest you’re in peri or full menopause. Or perhaps you’ve had a complete hysterectomy and she wants you on hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Or, maybe your cortisol (the stress hormone) levels are high, a condition that is all too common today in our stressful society, that and adrenal fatigue. Cortisol in small doses as the “fight or flight” hormone alerts you to take action. And, like all hormones it’s just doing its job. But, at chronically high levels, as in the case of constant stress, cortisol can harm your sleep and your health.

Whatever is going on your doctor (or you) may want to test your hormones and a number of other factors. The connection between hormones, neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) and our mind and body wellness is intricately complex, but infinitely manageable.

*Click here for a few of my favorite natural hormone balancing products

Here’s my six-prong approach to making decisions about hormone therapy:

1. Track your symptoms. Do this for several months before and and after (if you decide) you start hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Write in a journal how you feel, your symptoms based on time of day, how your symptoms change from day to day, weekly and monthly and how you feel after you eat.

Food is the first and foremost nutraceutical we take in throughout the day, and food affects our mood, hormones, EVERYTHING. Your diligent symptom tracking will provide you and your doctor with some useful patterns and information about what hormones and neurotransmitters might be off balance.  Do you see patterns before your period? After? Sporadically?

2. Test your hormone levels (saliva testing is more accurate for several hormones). Get tested even while you track your symptoms.

3. Consult with an open minded doctor. Preferably find one who specializes in natural hormone and mood balancing. The gift of finding a doctor who listens, respects your symptoms and who understands women’s hormones and brains is beyond priceless.

Much of what I’ve learned is from my hormone balancing doctor, my own decade of research and Dr. John Lee’s books. He’s my guru for bioidentical hormones. (Dr. Braverman is my guru for mood balancing).

*Click here for a few of my favorite natural hormone balancing products

4. If applicable, start hormone therapy (HT). Ask yourself, do I feel increasingly crappy? Do I want to stay this way and accept feeling crappy as par for aging?

You have your answer.

5. Use bioidentical hormones (BH)

6. Use a compounding pharmacist.  Most insurance companies don’t cover BH, however some might reimburse a portion. You may only need progesterone. Many women do not need estrogen replacement. Progesterone often alleviates symptoms of the common “estrogen dominance” which doesn’t mean you have high estrogen (though some women do and this is referred to as “estrogen excess”) it means your progesterone is too low.  However if after balancing your progesterone you are still low in estrogen, BH estrogen is FDA regulated, therefore often covered through your health insurance and/or discount pharmacy plans.

I order my BH estrogen transdermal patches from Canada, Smart Choice Pharmacy. I’ve found their pricing and customer service to be excellent.

*Click here for a few of my favorite natural hormone balancing products

Whether you opt in or out of HRT, at least stay open to the possibility.

Read between the hormone news scare lines, don’t react against HRT until you understand the researching findings, until you understand the difference between synthetic and bioidentical hormones, until you talk to an experienced physician who understands natural hormone balancing and who keeps up with the latest research on both sides, conventional and natural hormone HRT.

 

The Truth About Progesterone For HRT – Bioidentical Progesterone Isn’t The Same As Synthetic Progestin.

Photo - Sally Howard

Photo - Sally Howard

 

The term progesterone has been used to describe the synthetic progestins found in birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy, progesterone is not the same as progestin.

Your body knows the answer.

Conventional hormones are synthetic forms of hormones, they’re molecularly altered and as a result they don’t react in the body like your own hormones or their near identical twin,  bioidentical hormones.

Click here for saliva hormone testing kits

Click here for saliva progesterone testing kit

What Is Natural Progesterone?

True progesterone is a steroid hormone made by your ovaries when you ovulate in the middle of your menstrual cycle. A small amount is also made by your adrenal glands and nerve cells. Progesterone is manufactured in the body from a steroid hormone called pregnenolone and it is a pre-cursor to most other steroid hormones.

While estrogen seems to get all the glory and most of the controversy, progesterone deserves some attention.

Progesterone’s most important role is to balance or oppose the effects of estrogen. Most doctors no longer prescribe an estrogen-only oral contraception or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) due to the dangers of estrogen dominance in the body. Progesterone also stimulates bone building and helps protect against osteoporosis (while estrogen helps maintain bone density).

Click here for saliva hormone testing kits

Click here for saliva progesterone testing kit

Differences Between Natural Progesterone and Synthetic

In order for a hormone to be considered true progesterone it must either:

  • Naturally occur in the body
  • Be bioidentical

Bioidentical simply means the hormone is created in a laboratory to be an exact duplicate of what your body makes. The progesterone used for natural hormone replacement therapy (natural HRT is not the same as bioidentical HRT although bioidentical is often lumped under the term natural HRT) is often derived from plant fats and oils, usually a substance called diosgenin extracted from a wild yam that grows in Mexico, or from soybeans.The other human steroid hormones including estrogen, testosterone, and the cortisones, nearly always come from synthesized diosgenin.

The combination birth control pill or conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT) have progestin, which is not progesterone. Provera is one of the most commonly used progestins for HRT.

Click here for saliva hormone testing kits

Click here for saliva progesterone testing kit

Two Reasons to Consider Natural Progesterone for HRT

  1. Safety. Consider this: In the 3rd trimester of pregnancy the placenta produces huge amounts, 300-400 mg, of progesterone daily without any risk to the developing baby. Yet even a fraction of that amount of progestin could cause birth defects. The list of side effects and warnings from progestin or “medroxyprogesterone acetate” is eye-opening.
  2. Cost. Synthetic hormones like progestin, or Provera, are not naturally occurring in your body. Drug companies purposely make these medications different so they can patent them. This allows the drug company to sell the medications exclusively for years (until the patent runs out) and therefore charge more money because they have no competition. While natural substances like bioidentical progesterone, cannot be patented so they are less expensive to you.

If you’re considering starting HRT and are concerned about the effectiveness and safety of conventional vs natural or bioidentical hormones,Dr. John Lee, a pioneer in natural women’s health and author of Hormone Balance Made Simple suggests women consider this point first, “Synthetic hormones are not necessarily made, sold, and prescribed because they work better than natural hormones, but because natural hormones can’t be patented.”

Click here for Dr. John Lee’s books on hormones, peri and full menopause and HRT after breast cancer

Risks of Progesterone

The key to effective HRT is to use just the amount you need to alleviate or eliminate symptoms, no more, no less. This fine balancing can take time and require you track your symptoms, adjusting levels as necessary (with the help of a physician who understands natural and bioidentical HRT).

Natural progesterone has few risks or side effects. Initially as your body adjusts or if you use progesterone in excess, the following side effects may occur:

  • Sleepiness/lethargy
  • Edema (water retention)
  • Candida (yeast)
  • Bloating
  • Lowered libido
  • Mild depression
  • Exacerbates symptoms of estrogen deficiency

Most health care professionals prescribe between 10-40mg daily, once or twice a day for 15-25 days of the month. The number of days and dose depends on if you are ovulating, had your ovaries removed or are in peri or full menopause.

In some cases, patients have been prescribed as much as 100 mg per day which is in gross excess. In addition, some doctors prescribe a transdermal patch (on the skin) that includes other bioidentical hormones (estrogen or testosterone). Transdermal patches should include only individual hormones to allow you to regulate the dose and accurately monitor symptoms.

Click here for saliva hormone testing kits

Click here for saliva progesterone testing kit

Be Sure to Get the Real Deal

Ideally you’ll want to buy your progesterone from a compounding pharmacist who will ensure you receive the proper quality and concentration of the hormone through a measured pump container or transdermal patch.

If you do buy progesterone cream at a health or drug store, check to see the amount listed on the label. Be wary of brands that claim to have wild yam but don’t, or have very small amounts of progesterone. If the label doesn’t list the exact amount of progesterone you have no way of knowing what you’re getting unless you call the company. Verify the amount (and the company’s credibility) before you use any progesterone cream.

Be sure to get your hormone levels checked begin any HRT program. A saliva test is ideal for to measure some hormones. If you’re considering bioidentical HRT be sure to consult with a reputable doctor who has vast experience in both conventional and natural hormone replacement therapy.

Click here for saliva hormone testing kits

Click here for saliva progesterone testing kit

Copyright Laura Owens. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

 

 

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

Site last updated August 3, 2021 @ 3:41 pm

%d bloggers like this: