Many women experiencing menopause don’t have an understanding of what exactly is going on inside their bodies. All they know is that major changes are happening and they are having to find ways to navigate through them mentally, emotionally and physically. It is a subject that deserves more attention and open discussion without any stigmas.
At Omnia Health, we treat our patients with professionalism and respect. Acknowledging that every BODY is different, we create individualized solutions that get results. Our team has the experience and insight to help women take control of their health during menopause and have a more positive experience. And the best part is, you won’t be left to figure it out on your own!
One of the more effective approaches within our functional medicine practice involves hormone replacement. For those wondering whether or not they should use them during menopause the short answer is – yes! Now, let’s talk details.
Using hormones during menopause
The main purpose of hormone replacement during menopause is to do just that — replace the hormones our body is no longer producing on its own. In 2001, a famous study was released called the Women’s Health Initiative. There were two components to the research being conducted:
Group one included women with a uterus who took Prempro, a progestin (not progesterone) and CEE (conjugated equine estrogens).
Group two included women who had a previous hysterectomy and just took CEE.
The study was stopped early and headlines everywhere read that hormone replacement causes breast cancer — claiming a 26 percent increased risk! Everyone entered panic mode and stopped taking the hormones. As it turns out, these findings were only in reference to the participants in Group one and were NOT statistically significant. Which, as you can probably guess, is a really big deal in the world of medical studies. In fact, there are books written about the mishandling of this particular study (Estrogen Matters is a great one).
One of the most frustrating things about it all is the harm caused to many women who suffered because of this study. Today, 20+ years later, the case for hormone usage during menopause has been reopened. Despite the false pretenses regarding the Women’s Health Initiative, there are SO many studies showing the benefits of using hormone replacements. That being said, due diligence is required before making a final decision.
Balancing the benefits of hormones
Using hormone replacements during menopause has its own set of pros and cons depending on the individual. At Omnia Health, we always take the unique needs and concerns of each patient into account before suggesting a course of action. Here is a list of hormone replacement outcomes to help you begin making your own list of things to take into consideration.
Pros of hormone replacement
Elimination of vasomotor symptoms including:
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness (painful sex)
- Disrupted sleep
Brain protection (decreased risk of cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s)
Cardiac protection (decreased risk of CAD and stroke)
Bone protection (estrogen is the best for bones, not Fosamax)
Improved metabolism (less muscle loss)
Better skin, hair and sex!
Cons of hormone replacement
Can be costly because insurance will not cover most of it
Should be done within 10 years of menopause (which means stopping your cycle)
- There is a ‘timing hypothesis’ that shows significant cardiac protection occurs during this window of time. Using hormone replacement over the age of 65 will likely not give you the same amount of cardiac benefits. In fact, if you already have cardiac disease or are at high risk, it may increase your odds of a heart attack or stroke for about two years. After about two years, they saw the protection kick in.
Effect on breast cancer
- Estrogen does NOT cause breast cancer. However, if you get breast cancer while you are on hormones it can cause the tumor to grow at a quicker pace. For this reason, it is critical to stay up-to-date on your breast cancer screenings. In all fairness, this is something everyone should do So -important to stay up to date on your breast cancer screenings.
Determining if hormone replacement is right for you
While all of the large organizations including the American College of OBGYN (ACOG) and the North American Menopause Society all state that hormone replacement within 10 years of menopause have more benefit than risk, most doctors do not know this! In today’s healthcare systems, it is more important than ever to be your own advocate. No one knows your body better than you.
If you are someone who values and prioritizes your health, hormones will likely be beneficial to you. They play a key role in achieving longevity that allows you to add more than just years to your life. It’s about optimizing the quality of life as well. Taking hormones is not a standalone solution for achieving overall wellbeing, but it is a vitally important part of the equation.
The proof is in the positive results
Over the years, Omnia has seen so many success stories resulting from the use of hormone replacement. One such individual was a 52 year old who was experiencing so many negative side effects of menopause. She had gained nearly 20 lbs over the course of 6 months without changing anything in her diet or exercise routine. She wasn’t sleeping well and was tired all the time. Hot flashes and mood swings were driving her crazy. And to top it all off, she began experiencing heart palpitations and more frequent urinary tract infections.
She went to her primary care physician who put her on Ambien (a highly addictive sleep medication), prescribed her an antidepressant that caused her to gain more weight, gave her an RX for an antibiotic to take after sex, and sent her to a cardiologist who did thousands of dollars worth of testing. As you can probably guess, she was told everything is “normal” until she realized it wasn’t when Omnia was able to offer further help.
Here is the course of action we provided. First and most important, we tested! Upon receiving the results, it was confirmed this patient was significantly low on all of her hormones — estrogens, progesterone and testosterone. So we got her off the Ambien and antidepressant and started bioidentical hormones. For her UTIs, we used vaginal based hormones and moisturizing (plus DHEA).
As a result, she immediately noticed improved quality of sleep, increased energy levels as well irritability and mood swings. The heart palpitations, which are a common symptom of low estrogen levels, went away. She didn’t have any more UTIs and sex was not painful. In fact, the patient experienced her libido coming back. We recommended a nutritional plan that involved balancing blood sugars, lowering carbohydrates, increasing good fats and lots of veggies and proteins. Slowly but surely, the weight began coming off.
You don’t know what you don’t know
All of this was not the result of a miracle. It was functional medicine at its finest! And this is just one of countless instances where Omnia was able to help patients get the results they couldn’t achieve within the typical healthcare system.
Schedule a consultation today to discuss whether or not hormone replacement could be right for you.