Menopause – What You Need To Know
Hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and vaginal dryness are just four of the symptoms of menopause that are thought to be associated with hormonal imbalances. Menopause or the change of life happens when a woman’s ovaries stop producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Declining estrogen levels can also put some women at greater risk of developing osteoporosis, a disease weakens that weakens the bones.
In most women, the change of life is a gradual process. Periods grow more irregular and then stop altogether. The average age when this occurs is 51, but genetic variation determines the timing.
Women who are affected by moderate to severe menopausal symptoms or who may have greater odds of developing osteoporosis may be candidates for bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Estrogen is prescribed to replace the natural estrogens that are no longer being manufactured by the ovaries, while progesterone is added to lessen the risk of uterine cancers.
Synthetic Hormones versus Bioidentical Hormones
Synthetic hormones are hormones that have been synthesized in laboratories according to chemical processes that have been patented by pharmaceutical companies. Bioidentical hormones, on the other hand, are hormones that have been produced from natural sources such as plants.
Compounding pharmacists are able to customize bioidenticals into a wider variety of formulations than are available with hormone replacements manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. Bioidenticals can be swallowed as a capsule, applied as a cream, or even inserted under the skin in pellet form. This makes using them very easy.
The body does not recognize synthetic hormones as identical to the hormones the body produces. Many researchers suspect that this is the reason why so many unpleasant side effects are associated with the use of synthetic hormones. Bioidenticals, however, are indistinguishable from hormones manufactured by the human body and produce physiological results that are identical to those produced by the body’s own endogenous hormones.
Common Bioidentical Hormones Used in Replacement Therapy
Several different bioidenticals are commonly used to replace the natural hormones that the body no longer produces after menopause.
Bioidentical estrogen can be used to reduce the frequency of hot flashes and night sweats that are so often found among post-menopausal women. It can also help women regain an interest in sexual pleasure that may have disappeared due to changes in vaginal mucosa and elasticity that are caused by low body estrogen levels. Bioidentical estrogens can safeguard against osteoporosis and may even play an important role in helping the brain stay supple and fit, thereby offering protection against Alzheimer’s disease and other types of progressive dementia.
Bioidentical progesterone can support and enhance the benefits of estrogen replacement therapy while it also helps protect the body against uterine cancers. Progesterone is a natural diuretic that can keep the body from retaining excess fluid. In titrated doses, progesterone has a calming effect that can help with depression, mood swings, and insomnia.
Bioidentical testosterone also provides a measure of protection against osteoporosis. Its most valuable role among post-menopausal women, however, may be in boosting sexual energy.
Bioidentical testosterone has this effect in both women and men. Men go through an experience equivalent to menopause called andropause. The effects of andropause are related to declining levels of testosterone within the male body. Bioidentical testosterone can help restore hormone levels, which leads to better defined musculature, less hair loss, more energy, and – best of all – a more vigorous sex drive without the need for medications designed to correct erectile dysfunction.
Bioidentical hormonal replacement is a relatively new approach to male and female menopause, but it’s one that’s gotten great results so far and promises even more in the future. To learn more about bioidentical hormone therapy click here for more information.