Hormone Replacement for Women
Customized Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is the replacement of deficient hormones with hormones that are chemically identical to those that the body naturally produces, but which have declined due to aging or illness.
Customized HRT has improved the quality of life for millions of women who suffer from hormonal imbalance. The ideal process for achieving hormonal balance includes an assessment of hormone levels and complete evaluation of signs and symptoms, followed by replacement of the deficient hormones in the most appropriate dose via the most effective route for each woman, and monitoring to fine tune the therapy.
Estrogen is prescribed to relieve menopausal symptoms and treat postmenopausal problems such as vaginal dryness and tissue breakdown, painful intercourse, and various urinary disorders. Estrogens have been shown to decrease the risks of osteoporosis and colorectal cancer.
Progesterone is commonly prescribed for perimenopausal women to counteract “estrogen dominance”, minimizes the risk of endometrial cancer in women who are receiving estrogen, and may enhance the beneficial effect of estrogen on lipid and cholesterol profiles.
Published research has shown that the risk of breast cancer is increased by long-term use of conjugated equine estrogens, which are the most commonly prescribed form of commercially available estrogen, and the risk is further increased when the synthetic progestin medroxyprogesterone acetate is added.4,5 Conjugated estrogens are derived from pregnant mares’ urine, but most estrogens from horses are NOT naturally produced by humans. Additionally, synthetic medroxyprogesterone acetate does not confer all of the benefits of natural progesterone. That is why we recommend the use of natural estrogen and progesterone.
Androgens are a class of hormones that include DHEA and testosterone, which are normally produced in a young healthy woman, and are important for libido as well as integrity of skin, bone, and muscle. When women enter menopause, testosterone and DHEA levels may decline. Experts now recognize the importance of supplementing androgens for women who are deficient.
While women have benefited from therapy with estrogens, progesterone, and androgens that are “chemically identical” to the hormones produced naturally by the human body, researchers and health care professionals realize that this is just the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to achieving hormonal balance. Thyroid and adrenal function, as well as nutritional status, should also be evaluated and treated when indicated.
Women Prefer Natural Hormones
Mayo Clinic researchers surveyed 176 women taking natural micronized progesterone who had previously taken a synthetic progestin (medroxyprogesterone acetate, or MPA) to see if progesterone improved the women’s overall quality of life, menopausal symptoms, and satisfaction with HRT. After one to six months, the women reported an overall 34% increase in satisfaction on micronized progesterone compared to their previous HRT, reporting these improvements: 50% in hot flashes, 42% in depression, and 47% in anxiety. Micronized progesterone was also more effective in controlling breakthrough bleeding. In other studies, women using micronized progesterone had specific improvements in the areas of cognition, sleep, and menstrual problems.