Time for a Change
Welcome to the next phase of your life, an inevitable journey that you cannot avoid or skip over. Even if you think you have no symptoms you will experience physiologic changes before, during and after menopause. All women cease menses either naturally, unnaturally, or surgically. The medical definition of menopause is the cessation of menstruation for one year.
Now putting all of the clichés and labels aside, this time can be the continuation of a fulfilling life or the beginning of something new: a time of reflection and renewal. Children have left home, relationships have bonded, relationships have severed, new friendships are formed, and new careers can be launched. We are less fearful and reticent than we were at a younger age, less concerned for what others think and more apt to please ourselves. So take care of yourself, dress up and get out! Today is the youngest age you will ever be the rest of your life.
Natural and Bio-Identical
Now back to the truth about bio-identical hormones and the reality that 40 million baby boomers are somewhere on the menopause continuum: pre, current or post. The medical and economic possibilities seem monumental and the reports on HRT, whether bio-identical or synthetic can be endless, contradictory and confusing to the majority of 40 and 50-somethings who might be receiving the first chronic med prescription of their life.
Without too much history and textbook references the definition of bio-identical hormones can be described as those closely resembling the molecular structure of the hormones your body made when you were younger. The truth is most bio-identical hormones are plant based (yes even the compounded ones) from soy products and yams. That is where the natural part comes in but even these products have to be processed so that our bodies can metabolize and absorb them. The word natural is often interchanged with bio-identical and to be real honest neither truly describe what is available either from the FDA or as alternative therapy. Natural is not a medical term and there are many natural substances that we should avoid; arsenic comes to mind. Bio-identical is a marketing term that has captured our interest because we think it is safer than an FDA approved product.
Guide Your Own Health
So lets turn our attention to the media hysteria and medical controversy over what we are supposed to do when the symptoms disrupt our days and keep us up at night. There are studies to support the concern, but there are studies to support the benefits of hormone replacement therapy also. Do your homework and be prepared to describe the changes in your body, mind and spirit when you talk with your physician. Knowing what to focus on and what to explore can be priceless when it comes to your individual health.
Why do I have to Take Two or More Products?
This conversation is one I have several times a week either with friends, relatives, neighbors or acquaintances.
If you are prescribed estrogen only it should be because you have had a hysterectomy. Without a uterus you do not need to protect the endometrial lining, protecting yourself from endometrial cancers. If you have an intact uterus and experience menopausal symptoms that require some medicinal intervention then you must take progesterone with your estrogen therapy. This combination therapy has been common practice since the 1970s when estrogen only therapy was found to be causing an increase in uterine cancers.
If you are prescribed Prometrium, which is the most widely prescribed micronized progesterone you are taking a “bio-identical” progesterone. The lowest dose available is 100mg. There is a 200mg dose available and both are commonly prescribed for the prevention of endometrial hyperplasia.
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