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Menopause: Myths and Misinformation About HRT

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If you are premenopausal or menopausal, you know these transitions can be challenging—but they don’t have to be.

During the menopausal years, the production of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and thyroid needed to maintain a youthful vitality rapidly begins to decline. Symptoms include depression, irritability, short-term memory loss, hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, low libido, fatigue and weight gain. How happy, energetic and sexy can you feel with these symptoms? Not very!

Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is all about returning what time and nature take away. Hormones can not only make you feel better, give you more energy and help you sleep, but they have been shown to support heart and bone health and decrease cancer risk.

Testosterone, for example, is produced by a woman’s ovaries, adrenal glands, and fat cells and plays an important role in women’s health. Low testosterone in women can have a negative impact on libido, moods, sense of well-being, bone and muscle mass and cardiovascular health.

Bioidentical Hormones Vs. Non-Bioidentical Hormones

Myths and misinformation about synthetic non-bioidentical hormones and natural bioidentical hormones cause confusion about the importance of hormone therapy. The truth is, bioidentical hormones have the same exact structure as the hormones produced naturally by the body. Literature demonstrating harmful effects of hormones concern non-bioidentical hormones. It is important to know that using bioidentical progesterone actually decreases the risk of breast cancer.

The Women’s Health Initiative of 2002 is an oft-cited study, which I was involved in while teaching at the University of Minnesota Medical School. For many reasons (excluding women with hot flashes, including women to age 80, including smokers), the study design has been shown to be flawed. Additionally, the study only included synthetic, unnatural hormones Premarin and Provera, which increased breast cancer risk. Seven cases of nonfatal breast cancer out of 10,000 women in the study were reported.

A study published in the Journal of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment showed that 80,000 women using various forms of Hormonal Replacement Therapy (HRT) consisting of bioidentical progesterone and estrogen experienced significantly reduced rates of breast cancer.

Bioidentical natural hormones contain both estriol and estradiol. According to the International Journal of Cancer, estriol did not increase breast cancer compared to women who never used HRT. Using creams applied to the skin also confers fewer health risks than oral preparations.

Bioidentical hormones have also been shown to support heart health. A Journal of the American Medical Association article showed the bioidentical hormone progesterone increases good cholesterol (HDL). Estriol can decrease high blood pressure, total cholesterol and triglycerides, but increase HDL. Estriol enhances sexual and urinary health and promotes youthful skin.

A British Medical Journal study showed after 10 years, women receiving HRT early after menopause had significantly reduced risk of mortality, heart failure and heart attacks, without any apparent risk of cancer, venous thromboembolism (clots) or strokes.

Recent Mayo Clinic research of over 52,000 women found that neither estrogen alone, nor estrogen combined with progesterone affected a woman’s risk of dying from any cause, or specifically from a heart attack, stroke or cancer.

HRT After Menopause: Is It Right for Me?

Tests are available to determine your estrogen-related cancer risk. Testing for thyroid function, and vitamin D, as well as the important aspects of your Communication System—cortisol and your neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine—provides important information that can be used to balance hormones. Consult your physician for details about personal risks or benefits of hormonal replacement therapy.

Meanwhile, decrease your inflammation, relieve stress, remove toxins and stop eating sugar. Continue to eat cruciferous vegetables and fresh fish, drink green tea and dance the night away to promote bone and cardiovascular health.

Clinical Contributor

[starbox id=”snorlingmd”]

Sharon Norling, MD, MBA

Sharon Norling, MD, MBA

Dr. Sharon Norling is a nationally known and highly respected medical doctor specializing in integrative medicine and practicing advanced functional medicine in Hendersonville, NC. Dr. Norling graduated from Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and has trained at USC and UCLA. She received her MBA from St. Thomas University.

Dr. Norling’s expertise is based on her years of clinical experiences, former Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School, and her research. She is national board-certified in OB/GYN, Integrative Medicine and Medical Acupuncture. Dr. Norling combines a credible and responsible academic knowledge with years of experience and a caring nature.

Recognized for her expertise, she has testified before the White House Commission on Complementary Alternative Medicine Policy. She has served in multiple leadership roles as Medical Director and senior management in two large healthcare organizations.During her years in health care she has been nurse, medical doctor, hospital administrator, advocate and a dismissed and misdiagnosed patient.

Her passion is finding the root cause of illnesses instead of just using a pharmaceutical drug to treat the tip of the iceberg. Hormonal and neurotransmitter balancing is one of her specialties.

Dr. Norling is an international speaker and the author of Your Doctor is Wrong. As a presenter, she is engaging, articulate, humorous, and insightful, making learning a dynamic professional and personal growth experience. Whether you have heard her on the radio, seen her on TV or sharing the stage with celebrities, Dr. Norling is the expert.

Dr. Norling is a medical authority, a visionary and an extraordinary leader who provides real solutions for patients who have been dismissed or misdiagnosed.

Disclaimer: The information provided is only intended to be general educational information to the public. It does not constitute medical advice. If you have specific questions about any medical matter or if you are suffering from any medical condition, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.

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