Recently I asked in a poll what you would like me to discuss in an upcoming blog. Especially since I had just turned 70 and I’m sure people have wondered how I maintain my vitality in my 7th decade. The choices I gave were diet, exercise, or mental health. Overwhelmingly, you chose diet. As I thought about that it occurred to me that it’s not so much about diet, after a certain age it’s really about your hormones. Telltale signs of unbalanced hormones are weight gain, a midsection that has gotten bigger that you can’t seem to shrink. Also the loss of elasticity in your skin and hair that is continually falling out. But perhaps the most frightening sign of all is forgetfulness. Enter: Bio-identical hormones.
The first time I heard about bio-identical hormones was a few decades ago from Suzanne Somers’ book and Oprah’s magazine. They had mentioned how important these hormones could be to the aging process and the incredible medical research behind them. So, I spent some time learning about how these hormones could benefit my aging process. I’m very happy to say that it has significantly improved every aspect of my life since. I spoke to Dr. Jennifer Hawes about the differences in hormone replacements and what option would be best for me. Thankfully she had extensive knowledge of this subject! Read on below for some more information.
How are your hormones helping you?
Have you ever researched hormone therapy and how it can affect your body? Well, I can tell you that the media certainly has their own opinions on this matter. Unfortunately, they often lump all hormones into one big troublesome basket. The truth is that all hormones are not created equal. There are two types of hormone replacements: synthetic and bio-identical hormones.
Synthetic hormones are made in a lab from either chemicals or animal (horse) hormones. These false hormones are put into pills, injections, creams, and patches for human use in order to mimic the effects of real hormones. Some examples of synthetic hormones are birth control pills, Premarin/Provera, Estrace, Ogen, FemHrt, etc. They’re not a perfect match for a woman’s hormones and they’re not as effective on a molecular level, but a hormone-starved body will still accept them.
Almost 99% of all media coverage of synthetic hormones is debating the dangers of hormone replacement. Numerous studies prove the many negative side effects of synthetic hormones. However, doctors still prescribe them and people still take them regularly. Why? I think it’s because there are not many easy options and perhaps the doctors and their patients are unaware of any alternatives. If you were suffering from sleep deprivation, hot flashes, or weight gain you might not care what you are putting in your body, as long as it helps.
Bio-identical hormones come from plant sources and are modified in a lab in order to make them active. After this process, humans can use them as a hormone replacement. Whether it’s creams, gels, sublinguals, lozenges, or capsules, these hormones can be combined to create the perfect regimen that’s specific to you. They are named “bio-identical” because they are a truly perfect match for human hormones. If you were to look at plant hormones and human hormones under a microscope, you could not tell the difference between them.
Wouldn’t you prefer to put a perfect hormonal match into your body rather than horse estrogen? I certainly would. Over the last several years there have been numerous positive small studies on bio-identical hormones and there are even some that are FDA-approved. Of course, you should always talk to your healthcare provider before hormone treatment so you know what to expect. Unfortunately, there aren’t many large-scale studies done on bio-identicals because they are non-patentable and customizable. There is no money in a non-patentable drug and unfortunately, no money equals no study. Also, bio-identical hormones are mixed per patient and individualized per symptoms/lab tests, which is another reason why large studies cannot be done.
How Bio-Identical Hormones Can Help You
Most doctors will take into account family history, personal history, and lab testing for hormone levels before recommending treatment. Then, depending on the results, a doctor may come up with a recipe of hormones that’s specific to that patient. The mix may contain estriol, estradiol, testosterone, progesterone, DHEA, or even cortisol. Antiaging is a common potential benefit, but one could also see improved overall health, quicker healing, and enhanced heart and brain health.
Do you want to live a full, active life with a healthy body? Then consider asking your doctor about bio-identical hormones! They have changed my life in the best possible way and I believe that they are the secret to how I maintain my vitality in my 7th decade. If you’re interested in reading more about maintaining hair, muscle mass, and skin elasticity then check out my blog about collagen loading.
Yes, yes, yes! I started using bio-identical hormones in November 2009. I was having terrible and frequent night sweats–sometimes changing nightgowns five times in a night. Not only was this difficult for me, it was also hard on my marriage of 40 years.
It took several months until my body reached equilibrium but since then the night sweats have disappeared and my energy and joie have returned. If you are experiencing menopausal issues, do check it out with your doctor.
PS. My skin, hair and waistline have also benefitted!
Thank you Frances for sharing your experience. As you can tell mine was the same. It makes me sad when I see women struggle in this regard and I wish they would look into bio identical hormones it worked for so many of us. In many circles and for obvious reasons they have been underreported and ignored
How do you suggest finding a provider that will provide Bio-identical hormones vs synthetic?