Benefits of Estrogen Supplementation:
- Protects against heart disease
- Protects against stroke
- Decreases cholesterol
- Prevents and or lowers incidence of Alzheimer’s disease
- Improves memory
- Decreases symptoms of menopause
- Prevents osteoporosis by slowing down the process
- Improves vaginal dryness and eliminates bladder problems
Why Women Need Bioidentical Estrogen (Estradiol)
By Mike Clark, Ph.D., Diplomate of Anti-Aging Medicine, Advanced Fellow of
Anti-Aging, Regeneration & Functional Medicine. Director of Education & Research, Natural Bio Health. March 15, 2013.
What is Estrogen?
Estrogen is a female hormone that has been shown to perform 400 functions in the female body. It consists of three hormones, estradiol, estriol and estrone. Estradiol is the most active form and the one most commonly replaced in postmenopausal women. Estradiol is often used to mean estrogen although is it only one of the three forms.
Estrogen has been prescribed for over forty years to women suffering from symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, insomnia, vaginal dryness, bladder problems, difficulty concentrating and anxiety. With time, many of these symptoms diminish. Unfortunately, the disease processes, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s only increase in the absence of estrogen, particularly in the absence of estradiol.
Women using estradiol have seen favorable changes in quality of life, wrinkles, hair texture, memory and sex drive. Multiple studies illustrate that estradiol (sometimes with estriol) should be used not only as a treatment for menopause, but rather as a life-long therapy for the prevention of age related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease and depression.
Why Is Estradiol Important?
Estradiol is a hormone produced in both females and males although it is commonly viewed as a female hormone. This single hormone performs 400 functions in the female body. These functions include collagen production for the skin and protection against heart disease, memory loss, Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease and cancer. Estradiol has been scientifically shown to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, osteopenia, arthritis, macular degeneration, tooth loss, hair loss and many other maladies that affect us as we age. Excess belly fat is another symptom of low hormones, particularly low estradiol.
Why Does Estradiol “Disappear” in Postmenopausal Women?
Typically, postmenopausal women have little or no estradiol. Perimenopausal women generally produce abundant estrogen in all of its forms, estradiol (the more active form), estrone and estriol. At menopause, the female body has completed its procreation stage and mother nature has concluded that estrogen is no longer needed for producing babies. The ovaries then slow down or stop altogether the production of estradiol.
When the ovaries quit producing estradiol, many women suffer from hot flashes, poor sleep, increasing belly fat and other symptoms of low estradiol. However, many other women do not have obvious symptoms and state they “feel fine.” In either instance, estradiol is generally low or non-existent.
HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy).
Those suffering from symptoms are more likely to seek relief, either in the form of safe natural hormones or less safe synthetic hormones like Premarin or Prempro. The others often assume that since they feel fine they need not explore the benefits of HRT (hormone replacement therapy with multiple bioidentical hormones).
The problem with ignoring the decline of your hormones is that the longer you wait the less protection you receive from having healthy levels of hormones. The risk of heart disease, for example, greatly increases in the menopausal and post-menopausal years of a woman’s life. This is due in great part to the loss of estradiol. Testosterone, thyroid and progesterone also offer protection against heart disease. One long term study showed that the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease can decrease as much as 54% to 85% if estradiol and progesterone therapy are started at least ten years before the onset of symptoms.
Is the Loss of Estradiol Natural? Do We Have to Accept the Loss?
One concept/belief is that the loss of estradiol is part of normal aging and that we should just age gracefully and make the best of our aging. Women are often told “accept it.” HOWEVER, death is also part of normal aging, yet we try to prolong our time on earth.
ANOTHER CONCEPT OF AGING believes that while the decline of estradiol is in fact part of aging (as are the decline of progesterone, thyroid, DHEA and Human Growth Hormone), we need not accept the consequences BECAUSE we can do something about it – RESTORE OUR LEVELS WITH BIOIDENTICAL ESTRADIOL. Science (and lab tests) prove that we lose estradiol as part of menopause and science also shows the incredible benefits of restoring estradiol and other hormone to youthful levels. So why don’t all women ensure they have protective levels of estradiol?
Why Do Women Fear Estrogen?
In the year 2002, Newspapers across the nation scared women into stopping their hormone estrogen therapy (HRT) with headlines that screamed: “HRT Increases Risk of Breast Cancer, Stroke and Dementia.” This was due to a study called the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) that studied the combination synthetic drug Prempro (containing synthetic estrogen and synthetic progestin).
One author noted: “Over 13 million women were on some form of HRT before the initial studies were published. Millions quit “cold turkey” and saw their symptoms rebound. Millions stayed on HRT but live in fear of the consequences. And millions of women have been moved onto antidepressants as pharmaceutical companies have campaigned to position those drugs as substitute products – even though most of these women are not depressed and are thereby exposed to a new set of potential side effects.”
The Truth About Estrogen
The study (WHI) that scared women involved a combination of synthetic estrogen (Premarin) and synthetic Progestin. This combination (Prempro) in many studies showed an increase in the stated risks. The truth is that bioidentical hormones have been shown to be safe and effective and that the Progestin in the Prempro formula is NOT progesterone produced naturally in the female body.
Unfortunately, many women and many physicians do not understand the critical difference so FEAR hormone therapy because of this FALSE understanding.
What Should You Do?
At Natural Bio Health, we have successfully treated women with bioidentical estradiol for years — as have other clinics across the United States and in other countries. The science is clear about the protections and benefits of maintaining youthful levels of natural hormones. We recommend lab testing of all hormone levels followed by the use of bioidentical hormones to optimize your levels of all deficient hormones. We also recommend EDUCATION so you can make informed decisions about your health.
Healthy eating, regular and “smart” exercise, stress management, all are necessary to maintain or obtain an excellent quality of life. When these are combined with correct hormone therapy, your chances of living a long healthy life are greatly increased.
Possible Side Effects:
Side effects with estrogen usually only occur with estrogen dominance as there is no progesterone to counter balance the estrogen or the progesterone level is too low in comparison to the amount of estrogen. Estrogen dominance can result in mood swings, depression, breast swelling, fibrocystic breast tissue, craving for sweets, sleep disturbances, uterine fibroids, weight gain, acne, and water retention.
Estrogen is best administered in the natural form as estradiol. It can also be administered as Biest which contains estadiol and estriol supplied as a capsule, cream, or sublingual. The capsule form provides the best heart protection. However, for women who have a history of blood clotting or other risk factors, the cream form may be recommended.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How is natural estrogen different from Premarin?
Premarin is derived from the urine of pregnant mares. It is comprised primarily of horse estrogen’s that are not bio identical to the estrogens human make. The different forms of estrogen mentioned above are bio identical to what your body already makes causing less side effects and better results.
Will I get any breakthrough bleeding?
Not usually, but sometimes your doctor may have to adjust the dosage of estrogen and progesterone. Breakthrough bleeding can occur if you forget to take your progesterone. Be sure to contact your physician if this happens.
Although they may have phytoestrogens, the estrogens are not high enough to combat osteoporosis, heart disease, and other diseases of aging.
Estrogen is produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands. Men also produce estrogen through a conversion of testosterone, although this is an extremely small amount. There are three types of estrogen found in a female’s body, estrone, estradiol and estriol. The levels of all of these hormones fall dramatically at the onset of menopause.
The rapid bone loss after menopause has been attributed to the decline in the production of estrogen, which is essential for bone growth. In addition the loss of estrogen results in the development of heart disease, which is the number one killer of both men and women.
Postmenopausal women on estrogen have a 70% decrease in mortality from heart disease. Natural estrogen has also been shown to lower total blood cholesterol and raises HDL, the good cholesterol. Not only does natural estrogen protect vessels of the heart, it also protects vessels of the brain and may protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
There is no doubt that estrogen can protect a woman against many of the diseases of aging and that post menopausal women on estrogen typically feel better and stay healthier. Unfortunately, most of the estrogen that is prescribed to women is in the form of a synthetic estrogen or an estrogen that is not natural to the human body. Because of this, many women develop side effects as well as cancer. A healthy trend these days is to avoid the synthetic estrogens that have been used for years and prescribe natural estrogens.
Human receptor sites were designed to accept the natural estrogen and not a synthetic analog that not only causes adverse symptoms but also can be linked to cancer formation. A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine proved by meta analysis that long term use of synthetic estrogens increases the formation of breast cancer.
In Europe, most research trials have shown that natural estrogen, especially when taken in conjunction with natural progesterone, protects against breast cancer similar to the way it protects against uterine cancer. In addition, the use of estriol, which is a weak estrogen, has been shown to lower the incidence of breast cancer. This article was first published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which indicated that there was enough presumptive and scientific evidence accumulated to prove that estriol is the safer estrogen as it has been shown to actually decrease the incidence of breast cancer.
“This manuscript presents a protocol for hormone replacement therapy with natural estrodial, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and melatonin. Using the natural sex steroids which occur naturally in humans represents replacement to ensure attainment of pre-menopausal levels and adequacy of therapy. This is inexpensive therapy that gives relief of symptoms, is well tolerated, provides minimal side effects, protects the endometrium, and results in excellent compliance. This replacement of natural hormones is based on sound physiologic principles that have been demonstrated to be the preferred method of hormone replacement.” Infertility and Reproductive Medicine Clinics of North America; 1995 October; Vol. 6 (4):653-675.
“Fear of breast cancer is the strongest factor limiting postmenopausal hormone use. The most powerful study to date definitively demonstrated that estrogen does not cause an increase risk for cancer. The increased risk was associated only with taking the progestin (Provera®) and not estrogen.” JAMA 2004;291(24): 2947-2958.
“Loss of hormones at menopause results in significant genital atrophy, vaginal dryness, introital stenosis, and painful intercourse.” Family Practice News 2005 March;58-59
“Estrogen deficiency greatly increases mortality from cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Over 90% of women will die from cardiovascular disease which estrogen can prevent”. Over 40 years of study have well documented the cardiovascular protective effects of estrogen”. Obstet Gynecol 1996 Jan;87(1):6-12
“The potential lethal consequences of osteoporosis are overwhelming. Estrogen is protective but only when certain serum levels are maintained.” Female Patient Oct. 2004;Vol. 29:40-46.
“Multiple medical studies have demonstrated estrogen’s protective effects against Alzheimer’s, memory loss, loss of cognition.
- Estrogen decreases colorectal cancer.
- Estrogen decreases cataracts and macular degeneration.
- Estrogen prevents tooth loss and gingivitis.
- Estrogen prevents urogenital atrophy, painful intercourse and stress incontinence.”
Biomedica Jan. 2000; Vol. 3(1):6-9
“We must not forget the dangers of menopause and the deleterious consequences of estrogen deficiency. Estrogen protects bone, heart, brain, blood vessels, urogenital tissue, teeth, eyes. Observational data from around the world show estrogen has beneficial effects on mortality from all causes”. Consultant 2001July;Vol. 71:1085-1086
”The largest study to date, the Nurses’ Health Study, demonstrated a 100% decrease in heart disease and cancer for estrogen users. It is never too late to initiate estrogen therapy to arrest the progression of osteoporosis and hip fractures.” Female Patient 2004 Oct;Vol 29: 35-41.
”In the final analysis of the estrogen only arm of the WHI; there was no increased risk of breast cancer or heart disease. There was a 35% decrease in hip fractures, 35% decrease in diabetes and a 60% decrease in urinary sepsis. This leads to a significant decrease in all causes of mortality. J Gen Internal Medicine 2004;19(7): 791-804
”New findings in 4 recent studies counter the results of WHI and HERS. Estrogen replacement results in a dramatic decrease in cardiovascular disease. There was no coronary artery disease deaths were reported in 6,000 women taking estrogen. The results of the WHI do not apply to younger women.” Family Practice News 2003 June;Vol 33(11):1-2.
”Estrogen reduces the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease by 50%. JAMA 2002; 288:2123-2129.
“Estradiol and progesterone demonstrated no increased risk of breast cancer. Synthetic estrogen (Premarin® ) and synthetic progestins (medroxyprogesterone and noresterone) all dramatically increased the risk of breast cancer. This was a ten year study of over 100,000 women, the largest and longest study to date comparing natural hormones to synthetic hormones”. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2007;101:125-134
“The WHI trial had major design flaws that led to adverse conclusions about the positive effects of hormone therapy. The study included mostly older women that already had cardiovascular disease. The study utilized only medroxyprogesterone (Provera®) which we know negates any beneficial effect of estrogen, rather than the bio identical hormone, progesterone”. Multiple other studies with estrogen started early in menopause demonstrate beneficial effects.” Fertility Sterility 2005 Dec;84(6):1589-601
”Because of the design flaws, the WHI trial should be discredited as it used only 2 synthetic hormones that were already known to be harmful. The positive effects of many different hormone methods studied over the last 50 years should not be discounted due to one poorly designed and flawed study (WHI) trial.” Female Patient 2004 Oct;Vol 29:40-46.
“North American Menopausal Society (NAMS) position statement: The WHI results do not apply to the majority of women. The WHI trial does not negate 40 years of study demonstrating HRT benefit. Five recent studies demonstrate overwhelming evidence that HRT prevents atherosclerosis.” Family Practice News 2003 Oct;1-2.
”Estrogen lowers cortisol which in turn reduces abdominal fat.” Female Patient, 2001April; 26:18-24.
”Estrogen therapy alters the biology of the inner vessels (of the heart). HRT protects through vasodilation, anti inflammatory and anti-proliferative effects. HRT provides significant coronary artery benefits.” N England J Medicine 2000;343(8):572-574.
“Estrogen protects against neuron-degeneration, changes in mood, cognition and behavior.” Clinical Genetics 1998 May;6(5):15-19.