What You Need to Know about Hormone Replacement Therapy
By Al Sears, MD
Have you heard all the fuss over the way Oprah presented hormone replacement therapy (HRT) on her show? You may have even read about it in Newsweek.
Oprah’s guest on the show, Suzanne Somers, touted the benefits of using bioidentical hormones for HRT over synthetic drugs. She said bioidenticals changed her life. They gave her a greater sex drive, a better mood, better sleep, and all the things that menopause hinders.
But Suzanne’s advocacy of bioidenticals, along with Oprah’s nod of approval, sparked a wave of criticism throughout the mainstream medical community.
Critics argue that Suzanne, known for her role as blonde airhead Chrissy Snow on the sitcom “Three’s Company,” is not a medical expert and she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. But I beg to differ…
It’s true that Suzanne is not a medical expert, but she’s no airhead.
Somers is the author of several best-selling books on the subject, including The Sexy Years: Discover the Hormone Connection and Ageless: The Naked Truth About Bioidentical Hormones.
She’s a woman who has educated herself about the options available for HRT. And she has her facts straight. I happen to agree that bioidenticals are the better option versus synthetic drugs. I recommend them to my own patients. And I’ve seen great results.
Suzanne is also not far off by stating that many doctors don’t know much about bioidenticals, which is why they don’t prescribe them. Most doctors simply rely on Big Pharma’s solution.
The bottom line is that a woman has the right to know her options when it comes to HRT.
Which would you choose? Exact replicas of your own hormones that are easily identified by your body OR a synthetic drug that comes from the urine of pregnant horses?
Today, I will tell you what I know about bioidentical hormones and why I think they are the better option when it comes to HRT.
Choose Safety First
Why are bioidenticals a better option?
For one thing, they are safer. Several studies and analyses support me on this.
A recent analysis of over 200 studies found that bioidentical HRT is both more effective and has greater health benefits for menopausal women than synthetic hormones.1
The study showed that women taking them were less likely to have sleep problems, anxiety, depression, and cognitive problems — common side effects of synthetic hormones. And these women had a reduced risk of breast cancer and superior heart protection.2
A German study found the effects of estriol, a bioidentical estrogen, successful in 92% of all cases. And 71% of women completely eliminated hot flashes and sweating.3
A Japanese study of post-menopausal women found estriol treatment to be safe and effective as well. There were no negative side effects in the uterus or breasts of these women.4
And nobody has reported adverse events from using bioidenticals.
The FDA is quick to point out that pharmacies aren’t required to report adverse events from bioidenticals or compounded drugs. Surely, they argue, that’s the reason why there aren’t any complaints. But, they always fail to mention that consumers could reportany adverse events. And when they do, doctors and hospitals are required to report all of them.5
Think about it, do you go to your pharmacist when you have a bad reaction to a drug? Or do you call your doctor? After all, your doctor is the one who prescribed the treatment.
Know the Risks of Artificial Treatments
Synthetic HRT drugs, on the other hand, have a laundry list of reported risks.6 Just take a look at this table.
Risks of Synthetic HRT Drugs
Sharp chest pain
Sharp lower leg (calf) pain
Shortness of breath
Coughing up blood
Abnormal vaginal bleeding
Severe abdominal pain and swelling
Increased uterine fibroids
Changes in sleep patterns
As you can see, alleviating the symptoms of menopause can often result in something much, much worse if you take the synthetic form of the drugs.
One study of the Women’s Health Initiative looked at women who took Prempro, an estrogen-progestin combination drug. The National Institute of Health had to cut the study short because several thousand women showed an increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease, blood clots and stroke.7
In particular, the study found that Prempro resulted in:
26% increase in breast cancer
41% increase in strokes
29% increase in heart attacks
100% increase of blood clots in legs and lungs
Increased risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer
No wonder droves of women quit these drugs cold turkey when this and other studies came to light.
They may provide relief for some women, but the potential dangers are not worth the risk — especially when there are safer alternatives that are more effective, like bioidenticals.
Knowing How Your Hormones Are Made Makes a Difference
Bioidenticals are radically different from the synthetic hormones that are sold by drug companies. They are made from plants, and they have an identical molecular structure to the hormones made by your own body.
Your body doesn’t see them as foreign matter.
Synthetic HRT drugs are chemically altered forms of hormones that come from animal waste. That’s right, horse urine.
One of the most widely prescribed HRT drugs is Premarin, an estrogen-therapy drug made by Wyeth, which also makes Prempro (estrogen/progestin combination). Both of these drugs contain horse urine from pregnant mares.
This is big business, folks. About a hundred ranches in North Dakota and Canada raise pregnant mares to produce urine for Premarin and other HRT drugs. These horses are kept pregnant and confined to small spaces without any room to move. And their offspring/foals often end up somewhere even worse.
What’s more, these horses are given limited drinking water so that their urine will produce more concentrated estrogen.8 So concentrated in fact, that these estrogens are much more potent than the ones produced by your own body.
Need I say anymore?
Get Your Hormones in Balance with Your Own Special Blend
I have used bioidenticals in my practice for years. My patients love them. Like Suzanne Somers’ experience, they tell me that the treatments changed their lives.
If you are looking for a way to ease the side effects that come with menopause, you should certainly consider them as an option for your HRT. Here are some suggestions to help.
With hormones, it’s all about the right balance, so the first step to get control of your hormones is to have your doctor check your levels. Ask to have your estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone checked. You will be able to see where you have too much of one and not enough of another.
Ask you doctor about bioidenticals. When it comes to hormones, one size does not fit all. Everyone’s needs are different. With bioidenticals, your doctor can prescribe a custom blend of naturally occurring hormones that are specific to your needs. You’ll need a compounding pharmacy to fill your prescription. They are usually independently owned and easy to find in your state.
If your doctor is unwilling to prescribe bioidentical hormones, you can find other doctors who will. There are many doctors throughout the country who specialize in alternative and natural health that will help you. You can check out the directory of these doctors on my website.
If you are in the South Florida area or want to travel here and set up a consultation with me, I would be happy to see you. Just give my office a call at 561-784-7852 and ask for my Clinical Coordinator, Tanya.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD
Mainstream Medicine Stunned by New Findings of Bioidentical Hormones: New Analysis Proves They Are Safer and Superior to Standard HRT. http://www.MSNBC.com.
Estrogen Therapy? Don’t Worry!, Life Extension Magazine, Oct. 1999.
Takahaski, K, et al. Safety Hum Reprod. 2000 May; 15(5):1028-36.
FDA Attacks Bio-identical Hormones,Healthfreedom.net, Jan. 11, 2008
Hulley S, JAMA. 1998;280:605-613.
Writing Group for the Women’s Health Initiative Investigators. JAMA. 2002;288:321-333
“Premarin: A prescription for Cruelty”. PETA.org Fact Sheet. Viewed