The question of whether menopausal or perimenopausal females should begin natural hormone replacement (HRT) is an individual one. There are no broad brushstrokes to paint this picture.
Females undergo a hormonal shift that often begins in their mid-thirties and picks up steam around the age of fifty. In the earliest phases, progesterone begins to have a relative decline creating an imbalance termed estrogen dominance. Symptoms and outward physical manifestations may include weight gain, emotional changes such as depression, anxiety or irritability, and often abnormalities in the menstrual cycle.
As she transitions toward menopause, estrogen production can be erratic leading to more pronounced mood fluctuations, loss of libido, bone density losses, and vaginal dryness.
Synthetic hormone therapy for women has somewhat fallen out of favor due to a minor increase in associated risks including breast/uterine cancer and heart disease, strokes and clots (around 0.1-0.5%).
A nice summary of the risks can be found at : www.nhs.uk/conditions/hormone-replacement-therapy-hrt/risks/
Proponents of natural hormone therapy are quick to point out that the studies showing these small risks were when synthetic estrogens and progestins were used which are known to elevate systemic inflammation. Synthetic estrogens and progestins are not normal to human physiology. Elevated systemic inflammation is correlated with an increased risk of cancer. The logical conclusion is that anything that elevates systemic inflammation should be avoided whether its synthetic hormones or a greasy cheeseburger. This logic seems sound.
Natural hormone therapies for women, though, have neither been associated with elevated inflammatory markers nor cancer or clots. Of course environment matters. If there are other problems going on that elevate systemic inflammation, it’d be advisable to address the root cause of those in some capacity before introducing hormones. A personal or strong family history of breast cancer would also be a important factor.
Any time a therapy or treatment is considered, the risks vs. benefits should be considered.
Ask any female who has gone through or is going through it, perimenopause and menopause is no walk in the park…and it’s not like it lasts a week, more like 10-15 years.
There are also long-term problems associated with low estrogen and/or progesterone.
Understanding the benefits of hormone therapy for women is important in making that decision.
Known benefits include improvements in the following:
- The associated mood changes during menopause
- Slowing or preventing bone loss during menopause
- Prevention or reversal of vaginal dryness
- Maintenance of healthy libido and sexual response
- Prevention or treatment of hot flashes
- Depth and quality of sleep
- Quality of life and emotional outlook
- Prevention of vaginal atrophy which can lead to cystoceles and rectoceles (drooping of the rectum or bladder into vaginal vault)
- Prevention of the urinary obstruction that can happen with recto/cystoceles.
As can be seen, there are significant benefits to using natural hormone therapy for women. Understanding these relative risks and benefits will lead to an informed decision which the most important consideration.
For more information, please visit: http://www.lamkinclinic.com/hormone-therapy/