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Hormone Replacement

menopause Jun 02, 2022
Hormone Replacement

Menopause happens when our ovaries ‘shut up shop’ after their years of tireless service are over and they’re due for retirement (or redundancy in terms of a hysterectomy). Your ovaries are the main producers of your sex hormones, so in menopause, it is only natural for these hormones to decrease. This is where your symptoms can arise.

Is Hormonal Replacement Safe?

In 2004 a large scale study called the Women’s Health Initiative was abruptly stopped because of an increased relative risk of breast cancer in women taking combined hormone therapy. (Combined means oestrogen and progesterone). This lead to many women immediately halting their hormone therapy and a change in the referring practices of medical doctors. In the years since, the dramatic halting of the study has come under scrutiny and the media has been somewhat at fault. What the communication of the study results failed to state was that the increased risk was ‘relative’. This means that although, yes, combined hormone therapy may increase your risk of developing breast cancer, so too does, smoking, consuming over 2 std alcoholic drinks a day, lack of physical exercise, menopause after 55 yrs, your first period before 12 yrs and more. This is not to say that hormone replacement is completely safe, but it isn’t necessarily the boogey man we’ve all made it out to be. 

The data suggests that there is a ‘window of opportunity’ where hormone replacement can be beneficial for your health, in protecting your cardiovascular health, brain health and bone health, whilst after a certain time it can actually become detrimental. This window seems to be the first 5 years of menopause. 

Is Hormone Replacement For Me?

This is a question you should always work in a team to answer with your practitioner. There are a few common denominators when it comes to hormone replacement to take into consideration. 

  • Do you have any person history or family history of hormone sensitive cancers? If you have this history it is important to work with your gynaecologist and/or oncologist to achieve the best result. Not all cancers stop you from being able to take hormone replacement therapy, and sometimes it is only specific types or methods that are contraindicated. 
  • How long have you been post menopausal? Hormone replacement has been shown to help decrease risk of cardiovascular events, help protect the brain against dementia and improve quality of life. These benefits have been shown for people who start hormone replacement in the ‘golden window of time’ being the 10 years either side of menopause. (5 in peri-meno and 5 afterwards). If it has been more than 5 years after your last period, the benefits and risks of you starting the hormone replacement (HRT) are less well known. 
  • What are your symptoms? If you are struggling with hot flashes, fatigue, muscle soreness, brain fog, dry vagina, painful sex, and/or depression/ anxiety this is often due to the change in hormones, Helping to balance your hormones can help greatly with this.  
  • When should I stop it? If you experience any vaginal bleeding, tender breasts or other signs like ‘PMS’ talk to your doctor, the dose or type of hormones may need to be altered. 

How Can I Balance My Hormones?

Helping to balance your hormones can be done naturally through phyto-oestrogens and lifestyle changes, medications both synthetic or bio-identical, or a mixture of both. 

  • Lifestyle and natural phyto-oestrogens There are several ways to help balance your hormones to be able to breeze through your menopause transition (yes that is possible).
    1.  Cut down on alcohol consumption. You don’t have to give it up completely but having as many alcohol free days as you can, and limiting to no more than 2std in 1 night is a great place to start.
    2. Prioritise sleep, many of my patient struggle with sleep due to hot flashes or their partner snoring. My advice is to get your partner some help with their snoring, wear ear plugs or move to another room. Also having a cold shower before bed and getting plenty of phyto-oestrogens can help with the hot flashes. Also practicing box breathing has been shown to decrease hot flashes by up to 30% (in for 4 secs, hold for 4secs, out for 4 secs and repeat).
    3. Get plenty of phyto-oestrogens in your diet. Two great sources are our ‘Girl Powder recipe’ and Purifica Muricaa capsule made from a Thai herb that is well known to help with menopausal symptoms. 
    4. Strength training by lifting weights at least twice a weak for 45 mins helps to balance your blood sugars
    5. Avoiding refined carbohydrates and upping your protein intake to 50g a day.
  • Medical HRT or Bio-identical hormones Hormone replacement can take many different forms (creams, pessary, patches, pellets, injections or oral medications, they also come in many different types from synthetic oestrogens, progesterones and androgens) Speak to your doctor about with form is best for you; this will depend on factors such as, if you still have your uterus, your age and your main symptoms of concern. 

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