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Understanding the Three Types of Hormone Replacement

by Barbara Minton
See all TBYIL articles by Barbara Minton

(The Best Years in Life) If you think understanding hormones is too complicated, you’re right.  Pharmaceutical companies have put out enough hormone disinformation to make anyone’s head spin.  After all, if everyone became truly informed about hormones, few would need the toxic drugs and deadly treatments that have become the bread and butter of the medical establishment.  Here is information to help you understand the three types of hormone replacement.  Hopefully clearing away some of the mist can help both women and men get the most from their best years in life.

What’s in a name?  Everything!

Part of the disinformation campaign is the labeling of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone as ‘sex’ hormones.  The use of that label belittles these hormones and aligns them with something many Americans are not comfortable with – sex.  The idea being planted in our heads with this term is that if you are not a sex fiend, there is no reason to restore your hormones. But nothing could be farther from the truth.  These hormones form the bedrock of good health and longevity.  Without them, degenerative disease is almost a sure thing.   

Another trick played on us is the looting of the words ‘hormone’ ‘estrogen’, ‘progesterone’ and ‘testosterone’ by the pharmaceutical industry. The products they call ‘hormones’ bear little resemblance to the hormones the body naturally makes, and should rightly be known as hormone substitution drugs because that’s what they are. 

The substance made from conjugated horse urine that they sell to women as ‘estrogen’ bears little resemblance to the estrogen the body naturally makes.

Likewise, what they sell as ‘progesterone’ is not real progesterone in any way.  It is a synthetic concoction known as progestin.

Most of the testosterone sold by the conventional medical community is actually a patented synthetic compound that should be referred to as methyltestosterone.  Each of these three is a drug, not a real hormone.

To confuse things even more, all types of hormone replacement therapy, whether it involves drug products, natural plant hormones or bioidentical hormones is referred to as HRT by most physicans, the media, and even some medical researchers.


There are three types of ‘hormone’ replacement therapy

Hormone substitution drug therapy While hormone substitution drugs are able to mimic some of the actions of the body’s natural hormones, their composition is quite different from the hormones naturally made in the body.  As a result, they are unable to provide a full range of benefits, and they have many side effects, some of them deadly.  Because they are not natural substances, the body’s immune system views them as invaders and mounts an attack against them.  This action compromises the immune system’s ability to do the job it was meant to do, and it may be one reason why cancer is highly associated with hormone substitution drugs. 

Because conjugated horse estrogen does not have the same molecular structure as the estrogen made in the body, it has side effects that include endometrial cancer, stroke and deep vein thrombosis.

When a patient comes in complaining of symptoms associated with hormone deficiency, she will often be prescribed only horse estrogen, even though testosterone is the dominant hormone in females just as it is in males.  This creates a dangerous hormonal imbalance in the body that has been associated with a huge increase in the risk for breast cancer.

A doctor who knows horse estrogen needs to be balanced may also prescribe a progestin drug to be taken too.  These synthetic attempts to replicate real progesterone are associated with a horrific range of side effects and are the most dangerous of the hormone substitution drugs.

The conjugated horse estrogen plus progestin sub-study of the famous Women’s Health Initiative Study reported that highly elevated risks of heart attack, stroke, invasive breast cancer, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis and dementia were associated with the combination. It is due to results such as these than even mainstream medicine now recommends that women be given hormone substitution drugs for the shortest possible time.

In the female cycle, estrogen rises during the first two weeks, then tapers off so progesterone levels can rise for the second two weeks.  When horse estrogen is prescribed with progestins, the health benefits of the cycle are lost, because the prescribed pill contains both drugs.

Methyltestosterone requires processing in the liver and is highly toxic to liver tissue.  It has been implicated in breast and liver cancers.

Like horse estrogen and progestins, methyltestosterone is prescribed under the one-size fits all method.  There is no way to adjust dosages to match individual needs.  As a result, side effects such as acne, high blood pressure, facial hair, polycystic ovary syndrome, weight gain, and unstable blood sugar reflect that the dosage is too high. 

Natural hormone therapy – This therapy uses molecules that have many effects similar to those of the body’s own hormones, but don’t have the exact molecular structure as the hormones made by the body.  These come from plants, and their effect in the body is mild.  Phytoestrogens are not associated with an increased risk of breast cancer or any of the other diseases associated with hormone substitution drug therapy.  Several studies have shown them to reduce breast cancer risk and the risk of osteoporosis.  

There are several formulations of natural hormones on the market.  Most are a blend of several plant hormones.  The use of natural hormone therapy can assist the body in using its own hormones more effectively to deal with PMS, vaginal dryness, hot flashes and other early menopausal symptoms. Natural hormones have a very long history of use, and have repeatedly been shown to be safe. Preparations of natural hormones can be found in health oriented grocery stores and online. No prescription needed.

Hormone decline begins in the late 20s or early 30s for most women, signaling the beginning of the perimenopausal period.  If you are experiencing symptoms, this is the best place to start reversing them and getting your life back.  However, because the effects of natural hormone therapy are mild, it is not often effective for a woman entering menopause.

Bioidentical hormone therapy – This therapy uses hormones from plants too.  The difference between bioidentical and natural hormones is that bioidenticals are standardized to be the exact replicas of the hormones made by the human body.  The molecular structure of bioidenticals is identical to human hormones.  Anyone looking at them under a microscope would not be able to tell a difference.

Bioidentical estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are identical to the estrogen, progesterone and testosterone found in the human body.  Bioidentical estradiol, (the dominant estrogen in women), progesterone, and testosterone are FDA approved.  Bioidentical estradiol and testosterone are available only by prescription.  Bioidentical progesterone is available over the counter in a dose that replicates the level normally found in the healthy young human.

Bioidentical hormones have repeatedly been shown to be not only safe, but to be protective of health. When levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are restored to what they were when a woman was in her hormonal prime, bioidentical hormones have been shown to protect against breast cancer, osteoporosis, heart attack, stroke, and cognitive impairment.

Because bioidenticals are identical in molecular structure to the hormones produced by the body, the immune system recognizes them and there is no need for an immune response. And because they are not toxic, there is no need for detoxification.  When bioidenticals are prescribed in physiologic doses, there are usually no side effects.  If any develop, it is an indication that dosage needs to be adjusted.    

Some bioidentical hormones are commercially produced and are available at local pharmacies. They can also be made to the exact dosage needed in compounding pharmacies, the pharmacies that once compounded many natural medicines before drug companies became so powerful.

The best way to get a prescription for bioidentical hormones is to ask your regular doctor to give you one.  If he does not know about them or tries to prescribe hormone substitution drugs, try educating him.  If that doesn’t work, find a doctor who specializes in bioidentical hormone replacement or anti-aging medicine.

Want to learn more about bioidentical hormones?  Many of the leading specialists in anti-aging medicine have highly informative websites.  Here are two of the best:

See also:

Replacing Lost Hormones is the Greatest Gift You can Give Yourself

Understand the Great Importance of Hormones to Your Health

The Whole Truth about Bioidentical Hormones

It's Time to Stop Being Afraid of Hormones

For more information:

About the Author:

Barbara is a school psychologist and the author of Dividend Capture, a book on personal finance. She is a breast cancer survivor using bioidentical hormone therapy, and a passionate advocate of natural health with hundreds of articles on many aspects of health and wellness. She is the editor and publisher of AlignLife's Health Secrets Newsletter.

See other articles by the Barbara Minton here:

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