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Is Hormone Therapy Right for You?

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illions of women in the United States are suffering from hormonal imbalance, whether it is early menopause, perimenopause symptoms, perimenopause weight gain, adrenal fatigue, menopause, or premenstrual symptoms (PMS). In many cases, bioidentical hormone therapy is the solution.

Hot flashes, night sweats, trouble sleeping and weight gain are the most common symptoms of hormonal imbalance as a woman ages. Perimenopause weight gain is often times misdiagnosed and is one of the first signs of hormonal imbalance. These signs and related conditions are also connected to your stress levels, poor nutrition, lack of exercise and the environmental toxins your body is exposed to on a daily basis.

Hormonal imbalances are also the root of many chronic health problems and can increase your risk of serious disease. In women, the symptoms often first appear in perimenopause or menopause, when estrogen, progesterone and testosterone production begins to diminish.

The good news is that hormone loss and imbalance is correctible. Through the use of bioidentical hormones, women can not only be relieved of the symptoms, but also effectively protect themselves against osteoporosis and heart disease. And through supervised treatment, natural hormones can make women feel healthier and younger than they have in years.

LifeTime Health Center uses only bioidentical hormones which are identical to the body's natural chemistry. These natural female hormone replacement treatment plans will support women suffering from the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, whether due to age, a hysterectomy, adrenal fatigue or a thyroid problem.

To determine your hormonal needs, LifeTime Health Center will thoroughly evaluate your symptoms using state-of-the-art diagnostic tests such as saliva and/or blood tests to determine your hormone levels and your unique bioidentical hormonal needs. After starting a natural hormone replacement program, your hormone levels are regularly monitored to insure they are at their optimum balance. With LifeTime Health Center’s experienced supervision, the use of bioidentical hormone therapy helps women to live their best life possible.

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ncludes office visit, Women's Hormone Evaluation questionnaire, recommendations for in-house blood lab testing and TFTs (thyroid tests), and a complete evaluation of lab results. Evaluations include a follow up Office Visit or phone consultation to review test results and the suggested treatment plan. Patients should schedule this at the conclusion of the Hormone Evaluation for 2-3 days later. Blood testing for women includes serum estradiol, progesterone, DHEA, testosterone, SHBG, Vitamin D, and Thyroid functions (TSH, T3). Other tests may be ordered as needed.

The signs of menopause and related hormonal issues include:

Hormones

Cortisol

Stress can make me sick? It turns out the "fight or flight" response that once helped protect our early ancestors in times of peril is now turning against us and running us ragged. Cortisol helps to prepare the body for potentially life-threatening situations. Unfortunately, many women live stressful lives and these daily stressors often trigger the release of cortisol. Are you sluggish during the day and restless at night? Are you depressed or anxious and don't know why? If so, a cortisol imbalance may be to blame.

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, which sit atop the kidneys. The hormone has earned the nickname "the stress hormone," because it's released as the body's natural response to stress. Cortisol can be helpful in the short term, but chronic stress can cause the adrenal glands to become overworked and often leads to a medical condition known as adrenal fatigue.

While stress affects women and men alike, women are more susceptible to the effects of chronic stress and cortisol imbalance. Women have a lot of roles to perform. As caretakers, nurturers, wives, mothers, and many times business professionals, juggling it all can become overwhelming. When you factor in the hormonal changes women face as they age, the combination can really get the cortisol pumping.

Symptoms of cortisol imbalance in women are similar to those typified by other hormonal imbalances such as perimenopause and menopause and often include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Weight gain
  • Bone and muscle loss
  • Foggy thinking
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability

Studies reveal that women who eat balanced meals and partake in physical activity 3-5 times a week, and who actively try to reduce stress levels, live longer, healthier lives. If the chronic stress persists, over time, the adrenal glands can become overworked, which can present a whole new set of problems. So it is important to find ways to control chronic stress and arrest elevated cortisol levels before adrenal fatigue has a chance to develop.

There may be times when this process cannot be arrested with diet and lifestyle changes alone. When a hormonal imbalance needs to be fully evaluated, LifeTime Health Center can help. Using diagnostic hormone testing to identify hormonal imbalances and a combination of natural bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), we include customized nutrition and fitness programs to meet the needs of each patient. Testing is quick and easy and typically provides the solution you've been looking for to overcome chronic stress and symptoms of cortisol imbalance.

DHEA

Meet the Mother of all Hormones ~ Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) may be a big word for a small hormone, but in appropriate levels this potent hormone has powerful anti-aging effects for the entire body. DHEA is often referred to as the ‘mother of all hormones’ because it fuels the hormone pathway, a term referring to the body's delicate interplay of hormones. DHEA increases a person’s muscle mass, bone growth and promotes fat burning in the body. It also improves memory and boosts the immune system. The key is to maintain proper levels.

Women depend on adequate levels of DHEA to balance other key hormones throughout the body, such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. DHEA in women is produced by the adrenal glands, two small glands that sit atop the kidneys. As women age, the DHEA levels and most other hormones begin to decline. But age isn't the only culprit. DHEA, as well as cortisol and adrenaline, is produced in the adrenals. Although we rely on hormones like cortisol and adrenaline to assist in the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response to stress and to prepare the body for stressful situations, chronic stress can cause the adrenal glands to work overtime. While the adrenals are preoccupied pumping out large quantities of cortisol and adrenaline, they can't produce enough DHEA for your body.

Low levels of DHEA in women can cause symptoms including:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Aching joints
  • Low libido

On the other hand, adequate DHEA levels can help women:

  • Boost libido
  • Rebuild muscle mass
  • Lose weight
  • Improve memory
  • Boost the immune system
  • Promote flexibility
  • Raise energy levels

If you suspect your symptoms may be related to a DHEA imbalance, hormone testing is available to determine your current levels. With the many benefits associated with DHEA, it is definitely worth seeing your healthcare provider to check your DHEA levels. As with any supplement, you should consult your healthcare provider before taking DHEA.

Estriol

Big things come in small packages. Estriol is known as the weak sister of the estrogen trio (estradiol, estrone and estriol), BUT don't be fooled. Maybe you've heard of the "butterfly effect," in which "small variations of the initial condition of a dynamic system may produce large variations in the long term behavior of the system." In other words, sometimes something small or weak can make a major difference. That definitely applies to the use of estriol in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy!

Three forms of estrogen occur naturally in a woman's body. The ovary produces a form named estradiol, which is converted into another important estrogen called estrone. Estriol, yet another form of estrogen metabolized from estradiol, is not as strong at the other two estrogens but is still active and essential. Estriol is most commonly linked to pregnancy because it is produced in the most measurable amounts during that time. Estriol is still present throughout a woman's lifetime at varying levels and will fluctuate throughout the day.

Because estriol has been considered a by-product of another form of estrogen and too weak to actually matter, it has been largely overlooked as a beneficial piece of the hormone pie.

Studies suggest estriol can help reduce a variety of symptoms associated with perimenopause and menopause, including:

  • Hot flashes
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Bone density

Research also points to the benefits of estriol for heart health, post-menopausal urinary tract health and protection against osteoporosis.

In essence, estriol's strength is actually found in its weakness. Tests show that while relieving the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, estriol doesn't seem to increase the risk of breast cancer. This is because estriol binds to the estrogen receptors on the breast cells, but it has much weaker activity. Therefore, it actually blocks the stronger estradiol from binding to those cells and subjecting them to the higher estrogenic activity which has been shown to be protective against breast cancer. Women who have difficulty tolerating stronger estrogens for the treatment of hormonal imbalance due to aging have found estriol is often the right choice.

LifeTime Health Center may choose to test your estriol levels if you are experiencing symptoms of perimenopause or menopause.

Testosterone

Testosterone, it’s not just for men. Men and women have very different needs regarding their health. But they actually do have something in common when it comes to hormones. Men need a little estrogen for their feminine side (yes, they really do have a sensitive side) and women need some testosterone to even the score (don't worry – you will be resilient and feminine). Think strong, energetic and sexually responsive. With the right levels of testosterone, menopausal women can look forward to stronger bones, lean muscles and a sense of well being to include a healthy sex drive.

What is testosterone? Isn't it a male hormone?

Testosteroneis a steroid hormone found in the androgen group. It is derived from cholesterol, like other sex hormones, and its immediate precursor is DHEA. It is often referred to as "the male hormone", but testosterone also plays a vital role for women. Testosterone for women is produced in the ovaries and the adrenal glands. The ovaries function to help produce testosterone even after menopause, though the adrenal glands assume most of that role. Understandably, women who have their ovaries removed are at significant risk for decreased testosterone levels and the subsequent symptoms associated with it.

What purpose does testosterone serve in women?

Testosterone has many functions in a woman’s health. It is important for bone strength and the development and maintenance of lean muscle mass along with exercise stamina. Testosterone also contributes to our normal energy levels. It is best known for its crucial role in providing a sense of well being and a healthy sex drive. It also promotes a desire to succeed and achieve and a sense of motivation in general.

As a woman reaches her late thirties or early forties, perimenopause and menopause symptoms usually begin. This can mean a woman suffers from less energy, brittle hair, less bone and muscle strength, and a diminished sexual drive. A hysterectomy simply puts this cycle into hyper drive, especially if the ovaries are removed.

Menopause and Testosterone

The onset of perimenopause and menopause can cause a decline in the production of testosterone by at least 50% in some women. And a hysterectomy with or without removal of the ovaries will cause a more significant decline in testosterone. High levels of stress can divert the precursors for testosterone hormone production in women over to cortisol production and create a further reduction. High stress levels and a number of prescription drugs can also result in lower testosterone levels for women.

The Solution

Bioidentical Hormone Therapy measures the specific hormone levels in women, including testosterone. Based on your individual test results and as part of a customized natural hormone therapy, if low levels are found you will be put on regimen of natural testosterone and any other hormones you measure deficient. As a result, most women enjoy a renewed sexual drive, more energy and even greater bone density.

Contact the LifeTime Health Center to schedule an appointment and learn more about how bioidentical hormone therapy provides balance for testosterone and other hormones in women.



* Disclaimer

Information on this website should not be considered medical advice or instructions. Visitors should always consult a healthcare professional. Testimonials and before and after photos are used here to illustrate results achieved by others. As with any medical procedure, individual results vary and cannot be guaranteed.