I am a 55-year-old perimenopausal female. I have been very health most of life, yet lately, I have been experiencing hot flashes, difficulty sleeping and I difficulties losing weight. Could this all be from my hormones? Are bioidentical hormones effective? Safe? Can they help take the edge off menopause?
Hormones are an integral part of our lives. In fact, they govern how we think, feel, and experience the world around us. Most of the time, we are able to maintain hormonal balance, which keeps us fairly even keeled. Yet, there are two major developmental changes that mark distinct times of our lives. The first one is puberty and the second is menopause or andropause for men.
During puberty, specific hormones become considerably more active, which leads to physical, mental, and emotional changes. Increased hormonal activity continues through our late teens, 20s and early 30s, and from there they begin to plane out and decrease over time. The trajectory of hormone production in a persons life is unique to them. However, there are common threads that most people experience or can identify with when comparing age/gender related experiences.
The hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia and difficulty losing weight you have been experiencing can all be related to fluctuations and/or decreased levels of the hormones Estrogen and Progesterone in your body. In addition, there are other hormones such as Pregnenalone, Testosterone, DHEA and Cortisol that should also be looked at. So the question is, do you need hormone replacement therapy (HRT)?
The short answer is most likely this: no, you do not need HRT. But many woman have chosen to buffer the symptoms of menopause by taking the hormones that the body is not producing at the desired levels. While HRT is not always my first choice for woman going through menopause, I do prescribe Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy (BHRT). BHRT can be used to balance overall hormone levels and buffer extreme fluctuations. I use compounding pharmacies to do this. Compounding is key to truly personalized medicine. It alows me to customize and tailor the treatment for each person depending on their unique symptom picture.
Can BHRT take the edge off menopause? Absolutely. I have had patients thank me profusely for helping them using BHRT. Yet I have had others go through menopause on there own with flying colors. So if you are perimeopausal, menopausal, or having challenges with your menstral cycle, it is a good idea to have a hormonal evaluation that does NOT just look at Estradiol and Progesterone. I do not prescribe any hormones without looking beyond Estrogen and Progesterone. In addition, I look at how you you are metabolizing your hormones (clearing them through detoxification). This helps to know whether to add more or less of a hormone in a Rx, or just support the detoxification of estrogen metabolites from the body. This functional testing method is done by various labs. The lab that I use is Genova Diagnostics and the test is The Complete Hormone Test.
Remember, there are always natural ways to help “take the edge” off menopause. Natural therapies include vitamins, minerals, herbal supplementation and dietary and lifestyle changes. Natural progesterone and estrogen creams can also be helpful. But beware, just because many of these creams are sold over the counter, this does not substitute quality evaluation by a licensed medical provider.