Do you suffer from anxiety or depression? Trouble sleeping? How about hot flashes, low sex drive or mood swings? Unexpected weight gain and fatigue? Ever felt like your body was on fire, that you wanted to scream and wondered if you were losing your mind?
These symptoms are signs that your hormones may be out of balance. They occur most frequently during PMS, perimenopause, menopause and following hysterectomy. If you are suffering, you could be a candidate for bio-identical hormone therapy.
Made in a laboratory from soy beans or wild yams, bio-identical hormones are exact replicas of the hormones your body makes. They match natural hormones molecule for molecule. A more appropriate term would be human identical hormones. Since their structure is identical, your body can metabolize them without the health risks or harsh side effects associated with synthetic hormones.
Many women have been frightened by studies that link hormones to breast cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Dr. JoAnn Manson, MD, studied 10,064 women over eight years of treatment, and found less heart disease in the women taking bio-identical estrogen. According to the French Cohort Study that followed 3,175 women for nine years, breast cancer did not increase in women using bio-identical hormones. In the largest research report to date, Dr. Kent Holtorf, MD, reviewed and evaluated results from more than 200 studies comparing bio-identical hormones to synthetic hormones. He concluded, “Bio-identical hormones are associated with lower risk, and are more efficacious than synthetic counterparts. Until evidence is found to the contrary, bio-identical hormones remain the preferred method of hormone replacement therapy.”
Your current hormone levels need to be determined before starting bio-identical hormone therapy. Saliva and blood tests are used to accurately measure your hormones (usually estrogen, progesterone and testosterone). When your lab results come back there may be some glaring deficiencies, but more often test results tend to be mixed and require careful interpretation. Baseline measures establish a starting point for monitoring changes over time, but diagnosis and treatment are based more on your actual symptoms.
The goal is to use the smallest dose of hormone necessary to achieve optimum results. This is accomplished by using physiological doses that mimic the amounts that your body would normally make.
A compounding pharmacist mixes the hormones together into a customized formulation to meet your specific needs. Bio-identical hormones are taken as topical creams you put on your skin, orally, and intravaginally as suppositories or cream. There is no one size fits all. Doses have to be closely monitored and adjusted to get the perfect outcome for you. In addition, other factors such as diet, lifestyle and stress should be addressed to enhance hormone balancing.
Finding a physician knowledgeable about bio-identical hormones and experience diagnosing and treating women is critical. If the doctor has actually endured the symptoms herself and takes bio-identical hormones that’s a big bonus as she is practising what she preaches and knows first-hand what you are going through.
Bio-identical hormone therapy can increase your energy, improve sleep and rekindle your sex life. It brightens your mood and sharpens concentration and memory. Unnecessary weight gain is controlled and that blazing inferno inside of you is put out. You don’t have to struggle with the symptoms of hormone imbalance.
Dr. Denise De Monte is a naturopathic physician at the De Monte Centre Natural Medicine in Vernon.