Operation resuscitation began because my interest in sex was DOA. Operation resuscitation was my ‘one decision.’ I needed to take charge of my waning libido and other peri-menopausal symptoms. While in the scouting phase of my mission, through the hands of my dear mother-in-law, God gave me a book to peruse. Little did I know it would have to do with bioidentical hormones.
Confession: I scoffed at this book because of who the author was. But, MIL was insistent that I read what the ditzy blond had to say. “The Sexy Years,” by Suzanne Somers, helped positively influence my Operation Resuscitation. Shame on me for scoffing and pre-judging Crissy Snow (a.k.a. The Thighmaster Queen). Am I dating myself here?
On the whole, this book is good (Published 2005). It is well-written in easy language. It’s funny and informative. It examines the benefits of bioidentical hormones for the peri-menopausal and full blown menopausal woman. It is from a pro-bioidentical point of view. FOX News wouldn’t be able to call it fair and balanced.
I don’t agree with the author that hormones are the Fountain of Youth and anti-disease devices. I don’t agree that the use of hormones should be at such a level that we continue with our monthly cycles indefinitely.
I do agree that we should try to achieve a natural balance of hormones. But, even in nature these levels drop off eventually.
Menopause isn’t a disease we need to cure.
Aging is a natural process. As a Christian, I don’t want to remain on this earth for eternity. There is a far better world that awaits. But, while I’m on this side of things, it is sanctioned by God to remain as healthy as possible. He is still imparting new knowledge through medical research. We can most certainly utilize the knowledge that He imparts.
Frankly, I didn’t take Suzanne Somers’ word for it. I’m an independent thinker (i.e. skeptic), remember? Dave, my husband, gets annoyed with me sometimes, because I have a hard time taking anyone’s word for it. I have to dig and come to my own conclusions.
What are bioidentical hormones?
Basically, bioidentical hormones (or biologically identical hormones) have the nearest chemical structure you can find to the hormones in your body. They are produced from yams and soy products, among other things and are available through prescription at compounding pharmacies.
Synthesized (non-bioidentical, such as Premerin or Prempro) hormones mimic the physiological effects of the hormone they are replacing. But, the synthesized hormone is not as similar a replica as bioidentical hormones. Synthesized hormones are patented by their drug manufacturer and are available through prescription at commercial pharmacies.
There are two arguments against bioidentical hormones.
The main argument has to do with quality control.
When bioidenticals are customized to your particular hormone deficiency at a compounding pharmacy, potency may be variable. Compounding pharmacies mix the active ingredient (i.e. progesterone or testosterone) into a delivery system (cream, gel, liquid) and can tailor a dosage to an individual’s needs. Although, compounding pharmacists are professionals and strive to be consistent. The amount of hormone in the cream can possibly vary slightly between each batch made. The argument is the FDA doesn’t oversee the production at a compounding pharmacy. However, there are some bioidenticals that are FDA approved and don’t require a compounding pharmacy. See this LIST of FDA approved bioidenticals.
The second argument against bioidenticals revolves around compounding for personalization. Some debate the effectiveness of saliva and blood tests for determining your hormone ratio. The peri-menopausal woman’s hormone levels fluctuate too much during a given day to be able to pinpoint ratios with a one-point-in-time test. It is also said that desired levels have not been determined at all for menopausal women.
My personal counter to this is to use these tests as a starting point and then in collaboration with your doctor, tweak the dosage as you see benefits or not. When I first began my hormone regimen, I saw my doctor once every three months for a year and was told to call her at the slightest bit of problem.
Reading both advocates of bioidentical and synthesized hormone replacement therapies, I came to my decision to use bioidenticals.
My thought process in making a decision included:
~ “How close to the ground is it?” Is it the least processed form I can find?
~ I only want to restore what is missing.
~ ALL drugs, even the patented and closely scrutinized FDA approved ones have benefits and risks.
I am not poo-pooing big pharma. Mr. Muscle is a pharmacist. My father was a bio-chemist at Eli Lilly for 42 years. The pharmaceutical world has literally put food in my tummy my entire life! I am advising that you need to make informed decisions from your own research and not rely fully on what a book or I or even a doctor tells you. You know your own body better than anyone!!!
Every woman has a unique estrogen/progesterone ratio. In peri-menopause, the progesterone production falls more rapidly than the estrogen production. A simple saliva test determines the current ratio a woman has. A doctor who advocates bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can write you a prescription so that you will be given a personalized dose of the deficient hormone.
During my quest to locate a doctor who had greater knowledge of bioidenticals than my normal ob/gyn, I called the compounding pharmacies and asked who wrote prescriptions for bioidentical hormones. I researched each doctor the pharmacist mentioned and chose the one I thought would be the best fit for me.
One last word, DO NOT buy bioidentical hormones over the internet. You must get adequate counseling from a licensed medical doctor or practitioner who will prescribe for you what you both decide you need. Your hormones are wonderful, but have a very fragile balance. Don’t mess with them without a doctor.
At the time of this writing (2012) I have been on bioidenticals (progesterone and testosterone) for about three years. They have improved my night sweats, but have not eliminated them. My libido has been enhanced, but testosterone oil is not liquid female Viagra. I heartily advocate bioidenticals and balance in your life.
Hormones (whether bioidentical or synthesized) are not pharmaceutical DeLorean’s. Even if they could produce 1.21 gigawatts of hormonal power, you can’t transport back to your 18 year-old self. I feel great, but I’ll never be 18 again. I just want you to have realistic expectations.
There are far more learned people than I who can explain the nuances between bioidentical hormones and synthetic hormones and you can decide for yourself.
Please see these fair reviews of bioidenticals versus traditional HRT
The Case For Bioidentical Hormones
The Case Against Bioidentical Hormones
One last note, as you do your own research regarding bioidenticals you may see much mention of a 2002 Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) warning against HRT. However, they changed their mind in 2012. Here is the link, WHI has an updated stance.
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