Natural Hormone Replacement for Women

By Gloria Attar, R.N., B.S.N

  • Overview

    Natural Hormone Replacement for Women
    Female hormones begin their decline when a woman reaches her thirties. Estrogen and progesterone levels fall in response to the aging eggs and ovaries. A woman is still able to get pregnant, but she will begin to notice a steady decline in her energy level, her skin may become drier and less elastic and she may experience irregular or skipped periods.
  • Natural vs. Synthetic

    No discussion of female hormone replacement is complete with also listing some of the dangers of synthetic hormone replacement. For years, doctors believed that simply by replacing estrogen and progesterone with synthetic laboratory, and therefore imperfect, hormone drugs would protect a woman from the ravages of dry skin, dull hair, brittle bones, but the medical community did not count on a woman's body reacting to the addition of synthetic estrogen and progesterone with breast cancer, blood clots, and stroke. In recent years doctors have foregone long-term hormone replacement for short-term replacement and a modification in diet to help the transition from child-bearing years to menopause.
  • Progesterone

    As estrogen levels begin to decline, so do progesterone levels, however, these levels fall more dramatically than estrogen. There are a few natural progesterone products on the market which are available at health food stores. Progest has been found to reduce night sweats and hot flashes that begin in the perimenopause years. In addition to an over-the-counter cream however, the addition of soy into the diet also helps relieve these symptoms. In fact, natural hormone replacement chemists extract hormones from soy and/or yams, then add other natural molecules to form hormone replacement medications.

  • Estrogen

    As estrogen levels fall, women may experience dry and rough skin, hot flashes, and brittle bones. Replacing all of estrogen, as there are actually three different estrogens in the body is a complicated process. Estradiol is the dominant form of estrogen in the body and is at its highest level during pregnancy and is a protector against breast cancer. Estrone, the second form of estrogen, is formed from estradiol and is the estrogen most associated with breast cancer. It is possible to replace estradiol without replacing estrone. Estrace, Estraderm, Climara and Vivelle are a few of the brand names available for estradiol replacement.
  • Testosterone

    Typically associated with the male gender, testosterone is also present in a woman's body. Testosterone controls sexual desire in women. It also aids in proper functioning of the skin, muscles and bones. If a woman finds her sexual appetite waning in her perimenopausal or menopausal years, she should discuss possible testosterone replacement in the form of methyltestosterone, which is the natural form, available only by prescription.
  • Foods, Herbs and Supplements

    Eating foods high in phytoestrogens: soybeans, flaxseeds, blackstrap molasses, nuts, whole grains, celery and parsley alleviate many of the symptoms associated with the drop in hormone levels as women age. Avoiding dairy products, caffeine, alcohol will prevent bones from release their calcium to buffer the increased acidic levels in the bloodstream that these foods cause. Siberian ginseng aids in the production of estrogen. Dandelion, nettle and seaweed are all rich sources of calcium and assist in the prevention of osteoporosis. Essential fatty acids such as primrose oil and black currant seed oil deter hot flashes and are important for the production of estrogen. DHEA enhances sex drive and increases memory and reduces stress. Vitamin D promotes healthy bones, teeth and hair.
  • Considerations

    It is very important that a woman be as informed as possible before making the decision to replace declining hormones in her body. Each choice is an individual decision according to the woman's needs and her comfort level. More research is needed into the long-term effects of even natural hormone replacement. It should be noted that Asian women generally do not suffer the extreme symptoms of menopause that Western women do. This may be due to their high level of fish intake.
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