Menopause is a natural part of life that any woman who lives long enough will experience. Typically occurring in two stages, the” Peri-Menopause” stage usually begins around age 35-40 and lasts until the woman’s menstrual cycle stops for at least one full year. The second stage is generally referred to as the “Post-Menopause” stage and it begins one year after the woman’s last or final menstrual cycle and lasts through the rest of her life.
Many women continue to menstruate throughout the Peri-Menopause stage, so for simplicity’s sake, most of the time menopause starts after a year of no menstrual cycle. These two stages combined are menopause and make up the entire menopause period. Commonly, most women start their menopausal journey between the ages of 35 and 55. While many women stop menstruating in their mid to late 40’s, many women will continue to have menstrual cycles until even after the age of 55. Statistically, women who stop menstruating later tend to have a slightly greater risk of breast cancer, should have a routine mammography, perform regular self-breast exams and be ever vigilant.
Contrary to years of misleading news reports, Hormone Replacement Therapy, HRT, especially bioidentical HRT in Thousand Oaks, CA is an excellent way for women to protect themselves and help their body better manage the menopausal symptoms experienced during both the “Peri” and”Post” menopause stages.
If a patient is concerned about breast cancer or has a family history of breast cancer, then regular medical HRT, specifically synthetic, non-bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (Premarin and Provera), should be avoided as it can definitely increase most women’s chance and risk of getting breast cancer. Regular medical, non-bio-identical hormone replacement therapy should not be considered without an in-depth understanding of how your body will interact with synthetic hormones. The risk of breast cancer is significantly lower when using bio-identical female hormones, as are risks of heart attack and stroke, bowel cancer and most other problems we now recognize are associated with synthetic hormone replacement.
Synthetic vs Bio-Identical HRT
As mentioned above, there are two main types of hormone replacement therapies: 1) synthetic (typically using horse urine estrogen) and a synthetic progestogen, and 2) Bio-identical female hormone replacement therapy using female hormones which are Bio-identical. These are exactly the same structure as the estrogen and progesterone produced in the body of a female before menstruation begins. About half of all women who use synthetic HRT end up having to stop using hormone replacement therapy after about a year due to the inability to tolerate the many negative side effects and complications often experienced. Synthetic hormones are also problematic because of their tendency to produce unbalanced hormonal response, increased risk of breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes, blood clots, bowel cancer and the many other lesser, but often uncomfortable medical problems associated with synthetic hormones.
These risks and problems of synthetic HRT, commonly talked about in the press, are why more and more women are opting to use Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. Since many Western trained gynecologists are only trained in using synthetic hormone replacement, Bio-identical hormones are not always easily available. Another confusing problem is that most insurance companies chose not to pay for Bio-identical hormones and instead will only pay or reimburse when women use synthetic replacement hormones. A real conundrum considering that synthetic hormones are much more dangerous and can cause negative issues.
The Benefits of Bio-Identical HRT
Most women who decide to take advantage of Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy to treat their menopausal symptoms, often do so for three main reasons:
- To reduce or eliminate the negative side effects, signs, symptoms and discomfort caused when going through menopause.
- To reduce the negative biologic or physiologic effects of menopause, such as aging, increased risk of heart attack and stroke, which are often dangerous and even lethal.
- For the safety and security of using a more natural, bio-identical form of hormone replacement.
There are some drawbacks associated with either synthetic or Bio-identical HRT which a prospective patient must consider. Regular medical follow ups and annual pap smears are imperative along with regular self-breast exams and an annual mammography. While many women do not see this as a problem, some women do feel that it is a significant inconvenience. Statistics have shown the benefit of routine exam and early recognition of breast, uterine, cervical, ovarian, bowel, lung and other types of cancers and heart disease are well worth it. Many women believe that having a routine annual check ups allows them to act aggressively toward protecting themselves as they age.
Any woman interested in starting Bio-identical HRT at the onset of peri-menopause or in their post-menopause stage, should first consult with a doctor who is trained and experienced with using, prescribing and treating women who use Bio-identical hormones.
Most Gynecologists, General Practitioners and Family Practitioners are not trained in using Bio-identical HRT. Only an M.D. with proper training and understanding of HRT can ensure the best potential results and minimize negative issues. Bio-identical HRT is still HRT and it is essential to be sure that if you experience any risks, they are either prevented, found early and adequately treated. Prevention is always the most important part of medical care. Using Bio-identical HRT clearly outweighs using synthetic HRT. Overall health risks are lower and personal benefits are greater. Since every woman’s body is different, each must be treated as a unique individual. A Hormone Replacement Therapy (Bio-identical or synthetic ) program, if chosen to be utilized,, is always tailor made for the individual and the needs of the body. This can only be done by consulting with an expert who regularly treats menopause using HRT. Only after consulting with a well-trained professional will a potential patient be able to make the best informed decision.
For more information about hormone replacement therapy in Thousand Oaks, CA, contact Conejo Valley Advanced Wellness today.