Menopause and Bio-identical Hormones
Menopause is a time of transition in a woman’s life. No two women enter into menopause the same and thus cannot address the issues that arise with a one-size-fits-all treatment approach. Menopause is a normal part of the aging process that affects women in their 40’s and 50’s. The definition of menopause is the cessation of the menstrual cycle. It is not a disease condition, although is often thought of and treated as a disease. A woman becomes postmenopausal after going an entire year without a menstrual cycle. However, a woman may experience signs and symptoms of menopause years before the menstrual cycle actually stops.
Typical symptoms of menopause:
There are several treatment options available to women and as women become more educated about these options they often ask their physician which treatment is best for them. Most often it depends on a woman’s individual risk factors for breast cancer, heart attack, stroke and osteoporosis. Treatment options include bio-identical hormone therapy, botanical/herbal medicine, homeopathy, diet and nutrition, and nutritional supplements. Sometimes the best approach for managing symptoms is a combination or one or more treatments. Some physicians are not trained in all the possible treatment options and may not understand that some herbs interact with medications. A naturopathic physician is probably the best trained in all options available to women. www.naturopathic.org
What are bio-identical hormones?
Bioidentical hormones are compounds that have exactly the same chemical and molecular structure as human hormones. In contrast, non-bioidentical, or synthetic, hormones are structurally different from the hormones a woman’s ovary makes.  Bio-identical hormones are made both by conventional pharmaceutical companies and compounding pharmacies. The bio-identical hormones made by conventional pharmaceutical companies come with limitations in dosages, and control of additives and fillers. Compounding pharmacies can formulate estrogen plus progesterone pills and creams, estrogen only pills and creams, and can add other bio-identical hormones such as testosterone and DHEA as determined by the physician. The compounded hormones come with unlimited dosing options and the ability to titrate the dose up and down depending on how a woman responds.  It allows for more individualization of hormone therapy.