Hormones…To Do or Not To Do?


By: Judy Ponsford, BSN, RN, WHNP

 

Are you tired of that age-old question, “Should I take hormones?” Many women are confused about whether they should consider this option during peri and postmenopause. Of course, this is a personal decision that should be sought out with prayer and trusted counsel.  However, research is showing that bioidentical hormones are safe.  I believe the ongoing confusion over the past years has come from the many studies conducted by pharmaceutical companies that produce synthetic hormones.  Independent research on long-term treatment with synthetic hormones has shown they cause health problems such as blood clots, stroke, development of heart disease, and cancer. If you do decide to take hormones, my highest recommendation goes to bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). You cannot compare the two (synthetic vs. bioidentical) as some pharmaceutical companies would like you to believe.  Saying that synthetic and bioidentical hormones are equal or interchangeable is just not possible.  Synthetic hormones (just like any synthetic chemical substance) taken day-in and day-out are toxic to the system and can create disease.

Bioidentical hormones are hormones that have been chemically compounded to molecularly look exactly like the hormones that your body would normally produce; so when using these hormones, your body does not know if it is receiving them from itself or an outside source.  Because of this, the bioidentical hormones do not cause harmful effects like the synthetics.  Keeping your hormones balanced during peri and postmenopause with BHRT is an excellent way to support the adrenal and overall immune system, helps prevent disease, and is essentially known to be anti-aging.

It is common scientific knowledge that hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, are used in hundreds of biochemical and enzymatic reactions in a woman’s body for optimal functioning.  Since the ovaries are unable to produce these hormones during menopause, the adrenal glands (the small walnut-sized gland that sits on top of each kidney) must now take on the duty of manufacturing adequate amounts of sex hormones to sustain maximum performance by the body.  This may not be a huge problem for a woman whose adrenal glands are healthy and strong in the short-term.  However, the adrenal glands have many other functions as well, and the added stress of now having to produce hormones can begin to or eventually will cause adrenal fatigue or exhaustion.  As you can see, it is impossible to talk about hormones and explain their benefits without also addressing the subject of the adrenal system.

To expound on this further, we know today’s lifestyles are incredibly hectic.  Most women I know (and most likely the ones you know too, including yourself) are high-energy multitaskers with kids, and grandkids, jobs, and ministries, hardly slowing down to take a breath!  By the time these women reach menopause, the added burden of having to produce hormones as well will typically send the adrenals into a hypo-functioning (low functioning) state to some degree.  Low functioning adrenals initially cause a number of common symptoms such as fatigue, hot flashes, and thyroid dysfunction, to name a few.  Left unchecked, further breakdown of the adrenals can develop into more serious conditions such as high blood pressure, insulin resistance, allergies, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and possibly other auto-immune disorders for which there seem to be no answers.

It is well known, you cannot live without your adrenal system.  Your adrenal glands help you to cope with the myriad of stressors in your life and survive it all. Therefore, I cannot emphasize enough the seriousness of keeping the adrenal system strong, healthy, and functioning properly.  As mentioned above, the strength of the adrenal system is directly related to diseases and conditions you may develop and how long you are going to live.  Although this system is quite complicated, once you understand the general concept of the necessary relationship between hormones and the adrenal system, you will want to do everything you can to prevent the eventual devastating effects of low hormone levels on the adrenal system. Therefore, I have found that keeping hormones balanced during peri and postmenopause helps to support the adrenals and also prevent further breakdown of the overall general immune system – two of the most important reasons for deciding to take BHRT.

So, to answer the question, “… to do or not to do?” it should not be that complicated.  Bioidentical hormones are needed by the body for optimal health and wellness.  Additional reasons for considering BHRT are:  improvement in skin health, higher brain function and better memory, prevention of osteoporosis, improved thyroid function, improved libido, less bladder frequency, and cardio-protective effects.  Working with a professional who is experienced in the field of hormones, who will order the necessary testing, and will work with you to correct the particular imbalances that may exist in the body is essential.  I am also firmly convinced that just balancing hormones (although I believe a very necessary component) is only a part of the events that need to take place for many of you to achieve that particular health status that we all desire.  Working on other systems is absolutely as valuable as hormones.  When whole-system balancing is the utmost priority, the synergy of the hormones and nutrition and/or supplementation needed will create a symphony of the body’s system that can be amazing!

First Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “…do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God’s” (NKJV).  Did you hear that?  You are the Heavenly Father’s dwelling place, bought with the blood of Jesus!  One day He will give us a resurrected body free from all of the ravages of sin and this fallen earth.  Until then, praise Him for His marvelous handiwork.  Be very conscientious about how you care for yourself.  To the best of your ability honor your body as your Creator’s precious jewel, and make wise decisions concerning what you do to and with your body in all areas.  You will find that God’s character is not that of confusion, He will reveal all things to those who truly seek Him and call upon His name.

Find out all the ways keeping your hormones balanced is beneficial and anti-aging in my new book, You, GOD, Hormones, and Health.

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