Female Hormone Replacement & Optimization
Are you a woman experiencing symptoms of HORMONE IMBALANCE?
Hormone imbalance is caused by the primary hormones becoming out of balance. And you should know this hormone imbalance usually comes from changes in the reproductive cycle in women (such as menopause or perimenopause) but isn’t the only cause of imbalance in hormone levels – lifestyle, medication, pregnancy, thyroid issues and even diabetes can also throw off your body’s hormone levels at any age. No matter the cause of your hormone imbalance, the symptoms are often related and severe.
Two female hormones (Estrogen and Progesterone) exist in a delicate balance. Variations in that balance can have a dramatic effect on your health, resulting in the symptoms of female hormone imbalance (such as hot flashes, night sweats, and weight gain just to name a few). The amounts of these hormones that the body produces from month to month can vary, depending on factors such as stress, nutrition, exercise, and most importantly – ovulation or the LACK of ovulation.
The ovaries produce many hormones. Chief among them are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. The ovarian hormones estrogen and progesterone interact to coordinate a woman’s menstrual cycle during her reproductive years. The brain produces the hormones follicle stimulating hormones (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) which trigger hormone production from the ovaries. When any of the hormones coming from the brain or the ovaries are imbalanced, symptoms may occur. Imbalances are most common in puberty and menopause, but imbalances can happen at any age. Several conditions are well known to be associated with hormonal imbalance including: polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, breast disease, and menstrual irregularities.
In a normal 28-day menstrual cycle, only estrogen is produced for the first 10-12 days (the follicular phase); it peaks around day 12 and begins to fall. Ovulation then occurs around day 14 or 15 and tells the female body to produce progesterone (the luteal phase), which peaks around day 18 and begins to fall. The hormones are in balance and there are no imbalance symptoms. Progesterone sustains the endometrium, so it can receive a fertilized egg if pregnancy occurs. If there’s no pregnancy, menstruation occurs.
Let’s say you have NO ovulation one month, which is a typical perimenopausal event. The estrogen already produced for that month is NEVER balanced by progesterone because progesterone can only be produced with ovulation.
Many women in their 30′s and 40′s are actually in perimenopause and therefore produce estrogen, but LESS progesterone. This is referred to as estrogen dominance; it is a hormone imbalance and causes symptoms similar to menopause. Unbalanced estrogen is dangerous and toxic.
Female bioidentical hormone restoration improves your life, increases energy levels, and stops symptoms related to PMS, perimenopause and menopause. Natural bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is the solution to eliminate your female hormone imbalance symptoms (you will see later that natural hormones do not necessarily mean bioidentical hormones).
Different Types of Hormonal Imbalances
The adrenal glands produce three types of steroid hormones: glucocorticoids (cortisol), mineralocorticoids (aldosterone), and androgens (Testosterone/DHEA/DHEAS). Cortisol enables the body to respond and adapt to the stresses of daily life, both physical and mental. It also helps to maintain blood sugar levels and promote a healthy immune system. Aldosterone works to balance salt and water in the body. Androgens secreted by the adrenals provide the majority of DHEA for both men and women. For women, the adrenal glands are the major source of testosterone. An imbalance of hormones in the adrenal system can contribute to problems with the nervous and immune systems, body composition difficulties (such as weight gain), blood sugar irregularities, and high androgen levels.
Thyroid Function Imbalance
Thyroid hormones control the body’s metabolism. The brain produces thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) which triggers the thyroid gland to produce two types of hormones – T4 and T3. In hypothyroidism, the body has low levels of the thyroid hormones. This often leads to imbalances in relation to other hormones, such as estrogen or progesterone. Hyperthyroidism is a less common condition that exists when excess thyroid hormones are present. Because every cell of the body is affected by thyroid hormones, symptoms of imbalances are often varied and affect multiple body systems.
Insulin is secreted by the pancreas. Insulin “unlocks” the cells to allow glucose (sugar) from food to enter and be converted into energy. When too much glucose is present in the body, the pancreas increases the amount of insulin being produced. High insulin, as well as high glucose, may contribute to multiple symptoms. A number of conditions are associated with insulin and glucose imbalances and regulation problems. These include chronic stress, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes.
Adult Growth Hormone Deficiency
In childhood, human growth hormone (HGH) controls a child’s height. It is normal for human growth hormone levels to decline as a person reaches adulthood, but new research suggests that some adults may have too low a level of human growth hormone. Low levels of HGH are linked to poor muscle tone, increase body fat, low energy levels, and cardiovascular changes. Human growth hormone insufficiency is associated with pituitary gland problems, brain injury, autoimmune disorders, and nervous system conditions.
The 5 W’s of Menopause
More than 40 million American women are in menopause, and over the next 25 years this number is expected to increase to 60 million. At the turn of the century, most women did not live past menopause! Presently 9 million women are estimated to be using synthetic hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for relief of menopausal symptoms, down from 15 million in 2002 when the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) was halted due to greater risk than benefit in synthetic hormone replacement therapy.
Menopause is not a disease but a normal, physiological process resulting from diminishing female sex hormones and ovulation as women age. This is the ovaries final act when, for lack of eggs and female hormones, they can no longer perform their reproductive role. Menopause happens over time, and in the years prior to menopause (perimenopause), troublesome hot flashes, mood swings and other symptoms like depression clue us in to the fact that we are now entertaining menopause.
The official start of menopause (12 consecutive months without a period) occurs on average around age fifty-one, but it is not uncommon to see the symptoms of hormonal imbalance much earlier. Often, the acute or prolonged stress of 21st century living can reduce ovarian function and precipitate a premature menopause any time from the late 30s on. Menopause can also be artificially induced through hysterectomy, radiation or chemical means such as chemotherapy.
The ovaries are the main producers of the female sex hormones throughout a woman’s fertile years. Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing hormone (LH), responsible for egg-ripening and ovulation, are produced by the pituitary gland. The ovaries produce estrogen, progesterone and testosterone with a helping gland, the adrenals. As we move into menopause the shortfall in ovarian hormone production is picked up by the adrenal glands.
As we age, ovulation starts to sputter, reproductive hormones wane and periods become irregular, all with varying physical and emotional effects. The key players in menopause are estrogen and progesterone, the hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle throughout our reproductive years. During menstruation, these female sex hormones rise and fall in synchrony with each other. As menses tails off and eventually ceases, the rate and pattern of female hormones release is fundamentally changed forever. At this point, estrogen levels have dropped approximately 40 to 60%, but without ovulation, progesterone output drops to nearly zero! Contrary to the notion of menopause as an ‘estrogen deficiency disease’, it is often marked by too much estrogen relative to progesterone (referred to as estrogen dominance).
The hormones influencing health and balance in the reproductive years are produced in glands and organs, and are activated in the receptor sites of cells all over the body. So when female hormone levels drop or become imbalanced at menopause, the effects are likely to be felt both physically and mentally.
Mood swings, fibrocystic and/or tender breasts, irregular bleeding, irritability/anxiety, weight gain (especially fat gain in the stomach), water retention, low thyroid symptoms, depression/tearful, low sex drive, hot flashes, night sweats, foggy thinking, and bone loss are all symptoms of estrogen and progesterone highs and lows. There is a solution – one that most women begin to experience within the first 30 days of natural bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT)! No more hot flashes, no more night sweats, sleeping through the night, and more focus are just some of the comments we hear from our clients who are on the Age Management & Optimal Wellness Center’s Protocol.
About Natural (BioIdentical) Hormones
Natural hormones are not bioidentical unless your body can recognize them as hormones. Natural hormones are not considered replacement unless you actually replace what has been lost. Natural hormones are not bioidentical unless they replace precisely the “natural” rhythmic levels of your own estrogen, progesterone and testosterone production from when you were a young woman. Currently, the standard hormone replacement therapy you would receive from a doctor would be Prempro, or Premarin, if you’ve had a hysterectomy. And doctors who want to prescribe natural hormones but who aren’t familiar with the fact that hormones should mimic your natural hormone rhythms will merely prescribe natural hormones in the same way they prescribe synthetics. The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) has already found that standard to be dangerous. We use bioidentical hormones in our replacement therapy, meaning they are chemical alternates to ones produced by your body, obtained from compounding pharmacies so what you receive will be customized for your specific needs.
What you can expect from Hormone Replacement Therapy
The First Three Months
There is an adjustment period as your system adapts to the prescription. Some of the side effects could be, but are not limited to, a slight headache, dizziness, weight changes (water), hypoglycemia, change in sleep patterns, and breast tenderness. Most females begin to feel better in weeks.
IF YOU HAVE A HISTORY OF HEART PROBLEMS, PLEASE DISCUSS THIS WITH YOUR DOCTOR.
By month three, a full complement of receptors should be up and running and then it might be time to start adjusting the dose for your individual needs. Blood testing is in order at this juncture to give your doctor the information to correlate any remaining symptoms with the amounts of hormone you are receiving. Women, who are already cycling when they start the protocol, may need to adjust earlier.
Blood Testing Procedure
By month six and every year thereafter, you are urged to get your blood tested. Blood testing is done always on day 21. There are cream application issues with regard to blood testing, and we have a preferred option for making sure the tests are accurate and comparable from test to test.
Best Option: First Thing in the Morning Method
Get up and go straight to the lab a few hours after you put on any hormones but don’t apply on an area where the needle will enter your skin.
Bleeding Out of Rhythm
Consult our doctor for educational information about bleeding out of rhythm. It is evident that bleeding before Day 21 can be either a sign of too much or too little hormones (in the previous two weeks). On our protocol, too much Estrogen is unlikely (in women who bleed on or after Day 21) and using 2-4 more lines of Progesterone twice a day for one day only, may stop the bleeding. If the bleeding continues, stop all Progesterone and let your period happen. Call the next day, “Day One”. This, earlier than normal bleeding, indicates the need for 2 more lines of Estradiol twice a day for your entire cycle, beginning on this new Day One (This will make more Progesterone receptors thus allowing the retention of your “lining” past Day 21).
Medications That Are Contraindicated to The AMOWC Protocol
All medications, prescription or otherwise, available to the public work across hormone receptors to be effective. Therefore, all medications, supplements, and herbs can have an effect on hormone receptors. Evening primrose oil, Vitex Agnus Castus (Chastetree/berry), Black Cohosh, Estrovan, lignans, red clover and flax have hormonal effects and could interfere with our hormonal replacement protocol. Check constituents of all “combination” products from health food stores, naturopathic and chiropractic practitioners.
Medications that are contraindicated include: Arimidex, Anastrazole, Letrezole, DIM (indole-3-carbinol), Aromasin, Exemestane, Fosamax, Raloxifen and Tamoxifen. With time, you may find that you need less of certain conventional medications such as antidepressants, especially SSRI’s and Lipitor. Do not alter your prescription intake without consulting your physician.
The following products have been shown to present no problems with the natural bioidentical hormone replacement therapy: Magnesium, B-vitamins, Omega 3′s and 6′s, Lithium, Anti-psychotic drugs, Anti-epilepsy drugs, and common sleep medications like Ambien, Tylenol PM, Melatonin, Resteril, Xanax, and Zantac.
AMOWC’s Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Recommendations
Because of the wide variability of hormones within each woman, it is difficult to recommend standard doses for everyone. Instead, it is recommended that women rely on regular blood testing to strive for ideal hormone levels. These ranges are based on a healthy 20 to 29 year-old woman:
65 – 380 ug/dL
300 – 320 ug/dL
11 – 480 pg/mL
100 – 300 pg/mL
61 – 500 pg/mL
150 – 400 pg/mL
.2 – 28 ng/mL
10 – 16 ng/mL
14 – 76 ng/dL
70 – 95 ng/dL