Estrogen and Progesterone: Safe Hormone Replacement.
Article by Dr. Michael E. Doyle
Real female hormones have been shown to improve health and restore quality of life. They can help control menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, bone thinning, sexual dysfunction and poor sleep and may actually be good for the heart. On the other hand, synthetic hormones appear to pose unnecessary risk and should generally be avoided.
Over 20 years ago, Belgian physician Jacques Hertoghe he came to America to spread the word about the many benefits of estrogen and progesterone supplementation for menopausal (and even premenopausal) women. For many doctors and patients, this may have seemed like old news. Millions of American women were already being treated with “hormone replacement therapy” (HRT) by their local doctors. The practice of using HRT to eliminate menopausal symptoms and protect women from bone thinning, heart disease and more was very popular throughout the US until 2002. That was the year that a huge study called the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) came out. WHI reported that doctors had it wrong. This study found that that HRT actually caused a variety of illnesses, including cancer and heart disease.
So how did Hertoghe and so many American doctors get it so wrong? Actually, Hertoghe had it right all along. He had specifically not recommended the standard HRT because he felt that it was dangerous. Instead of the usual treatment, Hertoghe had always recommended that only real human hormones be given, at the right dose, and in the right form. Unfortunately, very few listened. For years, most American doctors continued to prescribe a combination of synthetic progesterone and horse estrogen (literally, estrogen derived from horse urine). This was given in pill form. In fact, Hertoghe had specifically cautioned against the dangerous practice of using female hormones that were not “bio-identical” (identical to human hormones). He also pointed out that estrogen should be given only through the skin, not as a pill.
Subsequent studies have supported Dr. Hertoghe, repeatedly showing that real human hormones are much safer than their synthetic counterparts. For example, a 2005 study of 54,000 European women (E3N-EPIC) showed that bio-identical could actually reduce the rate of breast cancer. Researchers found that human estrogen applied to the skin, combined with bio-identical progesterone reduced the risk of breast cancer. Women taking this combination of human hormones were actually 10% less likely to get breast cancer than women who took no hormones at all. When the natural progesterone was replaced with a synthetic progesterone, the rate of breast cancer went up by 50%. In 2008, another review in the British Medical Journal noted that estrogen given through the skin was much less likely to cause blood clots than supplements given in pill form. Following many similar studies, researchers recently stated that, “bioidentical hormones are associated with lower risks, including the risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease, and are more efficacious than their synthetic and animal-derived counterparts” (Postgraduate Medicine 2009).
While no medical treatment is 100% safe, real female hormones have been shown to improve health and restore quality of life. They can help control menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, bone thinning, sexual dysfunction and poor sleep and may actually be good for the heart. On the other hand, synthetic hormones appear to pose unnecessary risk and should generally be avoided.
Symptoms of Estrogen, Progesterone, and Testosterone Deficiency
For women, excellent health requires among other things a healthy balance of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Around menopause, the production of these hormones decreases significantly. In some cases, this causes significant symptoms and health problems as noted below. In many cases, these symptoms can be safely reversed by replacing the deficient hormone(s) and monitoring for side effects.
• Low libido
• Sexual dysfunction
• Menstrual irregularities
• Hot flashes & Night Sweats
• Low Mood/Depression
• Low Energy/Fatigue
• Loss of breast fullness
• Vaginal dryness
• Bladder infections and Urinary -Incontinence
• Joint Pains
• Bone Thinning/ Osteoporosis
• Coronary artery disease
• Poor Sleep
• Heavy Periods
• Anxiety/Mood Swings/ Irritability/Anger
• Increased Belly fat
• Endometriosis & Uterine -Fibroids
• Cysts of breasts and Ovaries
• Abnormal heart Rhythms
• Low Libido
• Low muscle strength and tone