Hormone Harmony for Wise Women
Are you a woman over 30 whose brain sometimes feel in a fog, like you are always losing your keys or train of thought? Do you find that your sleep is disrupted, that your mood is low, that your energy just isn’t what it used to be? Do you feel overwhelmed by tasks while at the same time lacking energy to accomplish these tasks? Do you crave sweets more than healthier foods?
If you experience some of the above symptoms, you you may be like the majority of women who are nearing menopause whose hormones are out of balance.
The great news is that when you get your hormones back into balance, you can experience better sleep, more mental clarity, more energy and joy than ever before!
The challenging news is that there are lots of conflicting information about whether or not to take supplemental hormones.
The good news is that more and more evidence shows the benefits of supplemental, bioidentical hormones. Bioidentical hormones offer both short term and long term benefits. After years of confusion, the science is finally clear: women with balanced hormones enjoy enjoy better sleep, greater energy, stronger bones, better physical and mental health with fewer risks when they take supplemental bioidentical hormones.
On this page, I offer my story of going from misery to joy and gratitude with bioidentical hormones. I then offer some brief tips for how to use bioidentical hormones to feel your best. I strongly recommend reading good books and/or finding someone to guide you through the process of balancing your hormones. For more information, I have provided links to useful web pages, books, videos and primary literature.
As a young woman, I was energetic and fit. When I turned 54 a few years ago, my life was slowly slowing down. Night sweats began to wake me up in the middle of the night and a racing mind prevented me from falling back to sleep. I felt exhausted and moody. I was forgetful. My brain felt as if in a fog. My skin felt dry. My bone density was on the cusp of osteopenia. So this was menopause. How did women cope?
I had heard that hormones helped women with their symptoms of menopause, so I consulted my doctor. She warned of the dangers of hormones and reluctantly prescribed Premarin. Being a curious scientist, I went home and read up on Premarin before taking it. I learned that Premarin contained estrogens from horses, which are not the estrogens found in women. I wondered why my doctor would give me estrogen from a horse when hormones identical to mine were available. I also wondered why she was so reluctant to prescribe hormones in the first place. I was confused.
To relieve my confusion, I looked at peer reviewed scientific literature. I read about the famous Women Health Initiative. After months of wading through data, the evidence convinced me that bioidentical hormones, (specifically 17 ß estradiol and progesterone), were both safe and effective. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that women who took bioidentical hormones not only felt better, they lived longer and healthier lives! They had less cancer, fewer heart attacks, and fewer strokes! Also, they had less dementia as they aged!
Even More Clarity!
I found another doctor who was happy to prescribe bioidentical hormones. After a few weeks on estradiol and progesterone, I began to feel so much better. Now, I am now extremely pleased to report that all the symptoms of menopause have disappeared! I feel better than I have felt in years! My bone density has gone up and I have no need for surgery. I’ve returned to dancing and bike-riding with no discomfort!
As a result of my improved health, I experience joy and moments of grace so much more easily and more often. Instead of feeling exhausted and overwhelmed with commitments that I’m too tired to keep, I feel more energy. I have more time to appreciate the beauty of life and to focus on family and friends. My mind is clear and I can see the blessings of life so much more clearly. Even better, I have the energy and mental clarity to contribute to family and friends.
In addition to feeling great right now, I also look forward to better health as I age. More and more long term studies show the benefits of hormone replacement. Thanks to this research, I know that my chances of broken bones, heart attack and stroke are way less than they would have been without these hormones. I feel more hopeful that I will not experience the bone disintegration of one grandmother or the strokes of my other grandmother. The more I read, the more reassured I become about the long term benefits of supplemental hormones.
Excited about my great experience with hormones, I wanted to share this good news with others. I also wanted to learn more. So, in 2017, I attended a conference by A4M that had workshops and lectures by doctors at the forefront of hormone therapy, functional medicine and other medical breakthroughs in health and wellness. I attended an outstanding workshop on hormone health with Europe’s leading endocrinologist, Dr. Theirry Hertoghe. At this workshop, I met Dr. Daved Rosensweet, who has been healing women since 1971 and is a leading expert on menopause health. He had just published the book “Happy Healthy Hormones.” This clear and helpful book corroborates everything I had learned and gave me useful new insights. I have since shared this excellent book with friends and my doctor. I also attended a lecture by Dr. Jennifer Landa from BodyLogic. Dr. Landa presented the latest literature on cancer and hormones. The good news: estrogen, when used properly, does not increase the risk of breast cancer.
Below is a brief summary of the benefits of estradiol and progesterone.
Benefits of 17 beta Estradiol + Progesterone Replacement
- Adds years to life and life to years
- Protects against heart disease
- Protects against osteoporosis and bone fractures
- Protects against memory disorders including Alzheimers
- Protects against vaginal dryness and atrophy
- Protects against urinary incontinence
- Protects against breast cancer
- Prevents hot flashes
- Protects against diabetes
- Improves sleep
- Protects against fatigue
- Increases energy
- Protects skin
- Prevents depression and mood swings
- Increases libido
• Find a doctor you can talk to, who is familiar with recent peer-reviewed literature (see below.)
• “Start low, go slow.” Start with a low dose and gradually increase until you find the benefit. If you take too much, your body will let you know (ie with headaches or painful breasts). Just back off the amount.
• Timing, type of hormones, amount of hormone and mode of application route are all essential!
• Timing is important. If 10 years have passed since menopause AND if you have not been replacing your hormones, then it is even more critical to apply estrogen through the skin. (Estrogen in pill form is changed by the gut and liver to forms that cause problems.)
• Be sure the estrogen is 17 beta estradiol, the kind that women produce. (The most commonly prescribed estrogen Premarin, is from horses, which is not recommended, since horse hormones are different than a woman’s hormones. We are not nags.)
• Use progesterone with estradiol, even if you’ve had a hysterectomy. In the past, doctors only prescribed progesterone if you had a hysterectomy. Now, studies have shown that progesterone with estrogen reduces the incidence of breast cancer. Also, progesterone has many benefits, including mental well being. Be sure the progesterone is human progesterone and NOT a progestin, like medroxyprogesterone, which is strongly linked to breast cancer. Apply progesterone cream just before going to bed, since it makes you relaxed and sleepy. You can buy progesterone cream over the counter at grocery stores and pharmacies. I’ve had good experiences with Pro-Gest by Emerita and Source Naturals. Many women know they have too much progesterone because they feel sleepy during the day.
• Also, be sure to apply these hormones through the skin with a cream or a patch or vaginally. In other words, the hormones should not be swallowed, since digestion changes the hormone’s structure and function. Estrogen is probably easiest to apply with a patch, which slowly releases estrogen over time.
You may experience pushback from your doctors. Many doctors are afraid of prescribing hormones because of out of date information. Scientific research is moving so fast that it’s a challenge for everyone, including doctors, to keep up. We are all learning. Also, many doctors are swamped with responsibilities and patients. Many doctors appreciate it if you pass along peer reviewed data (see below). My doctors are always grateful for the books and peer-reviewed literature that I pass along.
Links to More information and Primary Literature
Happy Healthy Hormones by Daved Rosensweet – Fabulous book! This book has everything you need to know about balancing your hormones to thrive gracefully in menopause.
iWonderDoctor – Dr. Rosensweet’s web pages with helpful videos about hormone replacement to thrive in menopause.
BodyLogic – Affiliated physicians trained in natural bioidentical hormone therapy integrated with nutrition and fitness for those suffering from hormone imbalance.
Yale study reevaluating the Women’s Health Initiative: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3780684/
Results: “Over a 10-year span, starting in 2002, a minimum of 18,601 and as many as 91,610 postmenopausal women died prematurely because of the avoidance of estrogen therapy.”
Estrogen replacement prevents heart attacks. A March 8, 2017 study of 4200 women reports that those taking estrogen replacement were “Thirty percent less likely to die than those not on hormone.” https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/About-Us/News/News-Releases-2017/Study-Hormone-Replacement-Therapy-May-Help-Improve-Womens-Heart-Health-Overall-Survival.aspx
Here’s a link to a Finnish study that found large benefits for estradiol: “In conclusion, based on the reductions in the relative death risks, Vaginal Estrogen use for up to 10 years is related to a maximum of 24 fewer deaths for Coronary Heart Disease and 18 fewer deaths for stroke in 1000 post-menopausal women.” https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/humrep/dew014
Here’s a link to a Danish Study showing the benefits of 17 Beta estradiol: “After 16 years, 27 on HRT died versus 40 in control died.” http://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e6409.
HRT started early in postmenopausal women significantly reduces the risk of the combined endpoint of mortality, myocardial infarction, or heart failure.
Here’s data on the benefits of applying hormones to skin versus swallowing: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22011208
Here is a review of estradiol replacement with links to imporant major peer-reviewed studies: