Our body makes a vast array of hormones which then act as chemical messengers so our organs can communicate with each other and create harmony. In terms of the sex hormones, this means estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Both men and women have these hormones. In women, estrogen and progesterone predominate.
During women’s reproductive years, the hormones are made mainly in the ovaries. When women reach menopause, their only source of estrogen and testosterone is from the adrenal glands which produce just a fraction of what is produced from the ovaries during a woman’s reproductive time of life
During perimenopause and early menopause the drop in progesterone and estrogen leads to the common symptoms of hot flashes, night sweats, sleep difficulties, mood changes, joint pains, vaginal dryness, decreased libido and memory lapses. Many women find relief from these symptoms with bioidentical hormones.
Bioidentical hormones have the exact chemical structure of a hormone that the human body manufactures. Chemists can make or synthesize human hormones from plant and animal glandular extracts. The most common plants used are soy and wild yam. Scientists can take these extracts and convert them in the laboratory to a variety of human hormones.
Bioidentical estradiol, the most active of the estrogens, can alleviate most of the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause even when given in low doses. The goal is not to replace the total amount of estrogen to a level when women are in their reproductive years, but to give just enough to restore women back to well-being. The estrogen given can be balanced with progesterone and testosterone if indicated.
In the early and mid-menopause years, the continuation of bioidentical estrogen can be considered for the prevention of heart disease, stroke, colon cancer, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer disease.
Women should discuss these issues with a knowledgeable health care practitioner.
Janis L. Enzenbacher, MD is the owner of Holistic Gynecology and Comprehensive Gynecology and Women’s Health Care, a private practice located at 105 Shad Row, Suite 1B in Piermont. She can be reached at 680-6600 or at drjanisenzenbacher.com.