5 Myths About Hormone Replacement Therapy
(That are far from true.)
By Dr. Meghna Thacker
Growing up in India, I had watched my grandmother go through menopause. She would have a tough time falling asleep at night (it was considered “normal” for her to get three hours of sleep at night), so she watched TV instead. As kids, we used to love doing up her hair, and we needed many hairpins to hold her bun. Over the years, I saw her lose her hair and, again, it was considered as part of “ageing”. On the other hand, my maternal grandmother went through multiple mood changes and was diagnosed with severe depression—she had to go through rounds of harsh electroconvulsive therapy, where a brain seizure is induced to lift the person from depression.
After my graduation as a naturopathic physician, I got a preceptorship position at Dr Gino Tutera’s office, now the world-renowned, SottoPelle. Being a naturopathic physician and believing that the body heals itself, I initially did not like the idea about using hormones to treat menopause. I thought that we were going against the laws of nature. But, I stayed, since I was curious to find out what this buzz was all about. I loved helping women feel better and we had women coming to our offices from all over the country and some even from international destinations.
I was in my late 20s when I started working there and probably could not relate to all the benefits that women were experiencing from the treatments. Now, 10 years later, I swear by this treatment because of the amazing results I’ve seen.
Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) is different from synthetic hormones. They come from plant-based sources like yams, used as a starting substance. In the lab, they are made into the exact structure of the hormones that our body naturally makes. As we age, we don’t produce enough hormones. Testosterone levels begin to decline in women when they are in their late 30s. It causes symptoms like low energy, anxiety, brain fogginess, low libido and weight gain.
Then, as we reach closer to menopause, oestrogen and progesterone levels decline, which brings on menopause and its classic symptoms of hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, sleep problems and vaginal dryness. By choosing to use BHRT, we are not only saving one from not developing all these symptoms, but also preventing them from developing chronic diseases like osteoporosis, cardio-vascular disease and breast cancer. If you are prone to these diseases when your hormone levels are declining, then does it not make sense to correct the hormone deficiency by natural hormones to prevent these diseases? Here are five myths about BHRT that need to be busted.
Myth #1: BHRT Causes Cancer
For healthy adults, BHRT may help reduce the risk of cancer by balancing natural hormone levels. Of course, if someone has a personal history of hormone positive breast cancer, I would not recommend oestrogen or progesterone. In fact, testosterone therapy will help them better. We have many patients who come for testosterone therapy only after they have had breast cancer.
Myth #2: BHRT Causes Blood Clots
The blood clots myth began when BHRT was first developed, and it stems from the fact that early treatments were not individualized. In fact, the advancements in BHRT allow women in particular to enjoy a healthier post-menopausal stage due to the balance of oestrogen, which mitigates the risk of developing coronary artery disease. When a doctor gets a detailed patient history, he/she can determine if a patient has a risk to developing a blood clot. A thrombosis panel can be run to find out any genetic cause for developing clots.
Myth #3: BHRT is Only Recommended During Menopause
We have patients in their 80s and a few more in their 90s who come for BHRT. These are patients who started the BHRT almost 30 years ago and have decided to continue till they live. They not only look 20 years younger than their actual age, but they act like it too. They have perfect bone density, which their doctors are blown away by. BHRT keeps you from losing your bone density and prevents you from developing osteoporosis, which is common in women after menopause. I like to monitor my patient’s bone density via Dexa Scan. I am very pleased to share that when patient has been on our therapy, I almost always notice that their bone density improves every two years.
Myth #4: BHRT Treatments Cause Hair Loss
When oestrogen levels decline in a woman, she begins to lose her hair. That is the reason that women start noticing hair loss when they get closer to menopause. By correcting the deficiency using BHRT, we are able to prevent hair loss. Hair loss is a major stressor in a woman’s lives. No woman that I know of would like to go through it. On the other hand, too much testosterone can cause hair loss. In some women, testosterone converts easily to a form called DHT (Di-hydro Testosterone), which is related to hair loss. Thus, it is the fine hormonal balance that can lead to healthy hair.
Myth #5: BHRT Causes Weight Gain
Testosterone is the hormone that helps us to burn fat and make more muscle. Yes, even women make testosterone naturally and need adequate levels of it to feel good. Of course, we need much less amounts compared to men, but don’t be of the belief that testosterone is only a male hormone. When testosterone levels drop, we begin to accumulate fat in places where we may have not seen it before. A common place is the mid-abdomen area. Women come to me and say that we have tried every type of diet and exercise, but can’t seem to lose the weight. They also say that they have never been “so flabby” in their lives. They begin losing muscle tone. By using individualized testosterone therapy, we are able to reverse this.
Patients trust SottoPelle® for BHRT, and they are working hard to maintain that respected position. As a founder and leader in BHRT, they remain determined to allocating countless resources to growing and supporting our best assets – our physicians and patients.
at 480.874.1515 or
8412 E. Shea Blvd., #101,
Scottsdale, AZ 85260.