The important information you need to know about using HRT during Menopause or leading up to it…
If you’re female and in your forties or fifties you’re likely to be a little concerned about Menopause and its potential impact on you. Maybe your mother, sisters or friends have told you about the hot flushes, weight gain, dry skin, wrinkles and drop in sex drive – or maybe you’re experiencing these symptoms yourself. In the hope of reducing or eliminating these and other symptoms, women often turn to HRT for help. But before you try it yourself, I urge you to read on and learn as much as you can about alternative solutions – it may help you to make an informed decision that will impact positively on your life for many years to come.
What is HRT?
HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) in conventional medicine refers to the replacement of two principle female hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) around Menopause to help with the side effects of this condition. The premise for providing these hormones is based on their naturally-occurring declining levels due to ageing.
Conventional HRT – I’m Not a Big Fan…
I don’t usually prescribe conventional medicine HRT because it is derived from the urine of pregnant horses and, because of this, it presents in a slightly different structure and at different levels from those required by human women (often at pharmacological levels rather than physiological levels). I prefer to use bio-identical hormones, which have been specially designed to be as close to both the natural dose and chemical structure as female human hormones.
Accurate Hormone Testing is Essential
I also don’t usually prescribe Oestrogen or Progesterone based solely on a patient’s symptoms. I like to get as much useful information about a patient’s hormonal status as I can before turning to a script pad. This is because hormones are very powerful, naturally-produced chemicals – and they all work together – in a balanced manner – like a symphony. If I just prescribe Oestrogen Therapy without confirming what the real hormonal issue is, then it’s like ordering in a bus load of drummers for the symphony – they’ll just drown out the other instruments and wreck the delicate balance that exists among the various instruments being played. For most patients, achieving a balance of hormones is far more important than the amount of any one hormone – this is why accurate hormone testing is essential.
Over the many years I’ve practised medicine, I’ve seen women present with very similar symptoms, but when we’ve done the hormone testing, it’s discovered that they have different hormonal imbalances – same presenting symptoms but very different hormonal imbalances. Just taking ‘what she took’ for the same symptom could end up increasing the imbalance in your hormones making your situation worse – and no one wants that! The importance of this cannot be overstated – and this is why I recommend seeing a practitioner trained in assessing natural hormone levels before starting to take any HRT. I usually use salivary testing and other sensitive measuring techniques, as these provide, in my view, the most accurate measure of hormones. Such tests tell me about the levels and balance of the various forms of oestrogen, as well as testosterone, progesterone, DHEA and others.
Re-balance Using Bio-Identical Hormones
From a position of knowledge about the levels of all the key hormones, I work out a plan to re-balance hormone levels to get the body’s symphony playing beautifully again. I always aim to bring hormone levels up to pre-Menopause levels (rather than overshooting them as can often happen with conventional HRT) as I find that this is the most appropriate course of action. I almost always use bio-identical hormones, and I work at physiological doses (those hormone levels that naturally occur in your body) which slowly, but effectively help return hormone levels.
Self-Care is Essential to Hormone Health
Every one of my patients knows from me how important self-care is because I drum it into them every time I see them. That’s why I always implement any hormone adjustment strategy in tandem with the Essential Foundation aspect of SELF CARE. In many instances, when women take time to care for themselves appropriately, health naturally rebalances itself – including hormones. Adequate levels of sleep, stress minimisation, avoiding reactive foods, self-love and time out are all important elements of the foundation to health – and this is especially important during Menopause.
Nutritional Support Through Menopause
Then as I re-balance hormones and implement a self-care strategy, I look at other nutritional aspects to deal with issues such as dry skin and premature ageing. I test the levels of key minerals and ensure that these are appropriate, and I use herbs such as schisandra and cordyceps to help with the body’s handling of stress. I often also use such products as Hydrolysed Collagen and Silica to help with dry and wrinkling skin, along with supplemental Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Additional, commonly-prescribed supplements include Indole-rich foods/supplements to assist with effective Oestrogen metabolism, Vitamin D to assist with hormone assimilation and production, and a low-starch and low-sugar diet to assist with increasing weight around the tummy.
The Key Takeaways…
So, to answer these three key questions of ‘should I’, ‘when’ and ‘how’ to use HRT, I recommend that you:
- Immediately implement a strategy of self-care. This is probably the single most important thing you can do to survive and thrive through Menopause.
- Get your hormone levels tested by an appropriately trained health care specialist (especially using salivary and other sensitive testing methods).
- Be guided by a trained practitioner to slowly and gently raise those hormones that are low to pre-Menopause levels using bio-identicalhormones at physiological levels.
- Use certain herbs (such as schisandra) and targeted supplements to support your body as it transitions into and through Menopause.
Doing these four steps will enable you to minimise the difficulties associated with Menopause and prepare you for what can be ultimately a Period of Power in your life.
Facebook Videos on Menopause and Hormones
It’s important to me that all my patients have as much effective information about health topics that are important to them as possible. So, I’ve been posting on the Beyond Good Health Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/BeyondGoodHealth/) videos and informational posts that deal with such important issues as Hormones, Menopause, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), etc. If you’d like to learn more about Menopause and Hormones during this crucial period of time in your life, please go to the Beyond Good Health Facebook for videos and other health information posts.
Yours in health
Dr Price (Holistic Doctor, Naturopath, Nutritionist)
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