Thursday, 7 August 2008


For most women who want to alleviate the unpleasant symptoms associated with the menopause the only option at the moment is to seek Hormone Replacement Therapy with Premarin, an artificial form of Hormone Replacement Therapy. This drug is made from synthesised estrogens from mares' urine and in the UK is prescribed by doctors to their NHS patients.

This kind of HRT has been the subject of much controversy, not least because it is an artificial hormone and also because it is a "one size fits all" solution, in a scenario where overstretched NHS doctors do not have the time or facilities to monitor each individual patient, indefinately and on an on-going basis.

Specialists in anti-ageing medicine, which is all about medical protocols to prevent or at least delay the onset of the diseases of ageing, prescribe bespoke HRT. This is because every individual will have a different hormonal profile and utilise HRT differently. So any replacement needs to be monitored on an on-going basis with regular blood testing and other health screens.

Bespoke HRT usually involves the prescribing of bioidentical hormones - these are made from plants such as yams and are bioidentical because they replicate human hormones exactly. They are prescribed for the symptoms of the menopause and also for deficiencies caused by ageing.

There is increasing evidence to suggest that our hormones offer protection from several ageing diseases - cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's, osteoporosis and some cancers. It therefore makes sense that replacing them to an optimum level for health may delay onset.

I recently tried bioidenticals. First I took a blood test to determine levels of my youth hormones including estrogen(of which there are three - estrodial,estriol and estrone), testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone(DHEA) and thyroid. I was prescribed a course of bioidenticals: estrogen capsules, testosterone gel and pregnenolone sublingual drops.

In addition to a blood test it is also advised to have the endometrium (womb lining) measured as thickening may occur in response to any hormonal imbalances - for example if too much estrogen is given; a breast mammography for similar reasons and also a bone scan.

Over the six months I have been taking bioidentical hormones my night sweats have stopped, my quality of sleep is much improved and I have more energy. I would mention here that the male hormone testosterone, is also necessary for females - it helps energy and libido. Is it available in the form of patches on the NHS.

For those not able to afford expensive bespoke HRT there are alternatives: phyto-estrogens can be added via the diet. The French company Arkopharma makes a capsule which has been successfully trialled without negative side-affects and has been shown to reduce menopausal flushes.

DHEA is a master hormone that converts to testosterone and estrogen - it can be purchased over-the-counter in US health shops. But you must be careful with dosage so it is advisable to get a blood test from an anti-ageing doctor before and while taking this supplement.

In the US, the Government health watchdog, the Food & Drug Administration has banned estriol and other bio-identicals, apparently because of lobbying by the manufacturers of Premarin. Estriol is in fact the weakest of the estrogens and the FDA accepts there has been no instances of harm caused by bio-identical prescribing.

Millions of Americans are now lobbying their senators to get the FDA to reinstate bio-identicals.

All I can say is that it is a bizarre world where we can be sold/prescribed all kinds of drugs that have known and unknown side effects but a natural substance that has proven benefits to health is banned....


Maggie Rose Crane said...

I'm right with you! I have used bio-identical hormones for years and they have helped me thrive during these menopausal years. Yes, it is a shame we in America are having to fight to keep these bio-identicals available to women. The drug companies are trying to get the FDA to ban them so they can offer their synthetic hormones (and make millions of dollars) as a woman's only option. I provide more detailed information on this situation and give women a link to voice their protest in my blog post titled "Hormone Alert" at I encourage women to take action before our ability to choose healthy options is snatched out from under us.
Thank you for once again bringing this important issue into focus.

phuli cohan said...

Thanks for helping to get the word out! I have written a book, The Natural Hormone Makeover, which details how to know which hormones may be out of whack and how to put it right using natural hormones and supplements. Check out my website as I try to keep women up to date of what's new in women's health and welcome email questions. Dr Phuli Cohan

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