Are you afraid of hormones? Are you hitting your head against the wall trying to resolve your hormonal problems “the natural way”? This article is an eye-opener when it comes to addressing hormonal challenges.
Death – a natural solution to your hormonal problems?
I talk to many men and women in their 40s and 50s and beyond, and most struggle with declining hormonal levels. For women, of course, we are talking mainly about depletion of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone (yes, women make and need testosterone) and thyroid hormones. For men, a drop in testosterone is the main issue although male testosterone levels tend to decline more gradually (compared to female sex hormones) and the process is therefore tolerated with less drama.
Night sweats, irritability, PMS, forgetfulness, itchiness, acne, breast tenderness (and in some cases even breast cancer), weight gain, depression, insomnia, physical and mental exhaustion, migraines – that’s just the beginning often called “perimenopause”, and it happens while a woman is still getting a period. But wait! The worst is yet to come! The worst is not the increasing night sweats, the weight gain and the low sex drive once a woman has stopped menstruating. The worst is heart disease, Alzheimer and osteoporosis, all of which correlate with depletion of estrogen.
For men, declining levels of testosterone during the male menopause (also called andropause ) lead to much of the same: forgetfulness, decrease of muscle mass and increase of visceral fat, insomnia, lack of motivation, fatigue, depression, loss of sex drive, erectile dysfunction, breast enlargement and swelling, height loss, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
Now, when I talk to people struggling with (peri)menopause or andropause symptoms, they will often tell me they are against hormonal replacement because they want a “natural” treatment. So let’s look at what’s natural. If you are a woman, you hit a certain age and your egg reserve gets depleted, i.e. you can no longer procreate. With your procreation ability lost, the ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone (these used to facilitate procreation when you still had eggs in your ovaries). Both the female and the male body also stop producing testosterone (among other things testosterone used to give you the good old sex drive when you were fertile but what do you need sex drive for now?). No longer fertile, you are of no use to Nature any more. You have presumably raised a few children already and now it’s their turn to take over. Consequently, Nature wants to get rid of you and menopause (male and female) is a natural built-in program for self-destruction. Not surprisingly, it correlates with rapid decline in health, most notably cardio-vascular, brain and bone health. At this stage most health problems are a direct consequence of declining and/or depleted hormonal levels.
On the face of it, if you are really set on doing things “the natural way”, you might as well not do anything. It’s natural to die, everybody dies, case closed. However, most people I talk to are on at least one medication (some take even more). Diabetes, high blood pressure, joint pain, forgetfulness, insomnia – these are debilitating conditions everybody treats with pills. Because no one wants to die! Importantly, are said pills natural? Are they more natural than bio-identical hormones? Of course not!
Bio-identical hormones are lab-produced substances that are 100% identical to the hormones that your body used to make. They can be derived from plants, animals, or in some cases they can also be synthetically created. As far as I am concerned, bio-identical hormones are the second most natural thing to consider taking (death obviously being the first most natural option). Importantly, you should also know that there are some perfectly natural hormones (like Premarin, for instance, which is derived from horse urine) that are not, however, bio-identical and are very harmful to take. So the ‘natural’ is not always the way to go. To wit, much poison is naturally occurring in plants, animal venom, etc. Would you take it because it’s natural? I know I wouldn’t!
So for everyone out there insisting on a natural treatment, think about it for a second. Investigate and keep an open-minded. Talk to a qualified doctor and discuss options bearing in mind that bio-identical hormones are as natural as they come, certainly way more natural than open-heart surgery, contraceptive pills and even vitamin supplements (most vitamin pills are of course synthetic). Most importantly, bear in mind that bio-identical hormonal replacement has the potential to prevent heart problems, brain problems, bone problems, mood problems, sex drive problems, skin problems… The list is endless.
As an aside, if you are a perimenopausal woman dealing with heavy bleeding, fibroids, severe PMS, irregular periods and/or anemia, and your doctor suggests a hormonal IUD or contraceptive pills (both delivering synthetic hormones that are not bio-identical and that are wreaking havoc with your body), change your doctor. Consult with someone who is going to treat the underlying causes and won’t try to mask the symptoms instead. Look for someone who is knowledgeable about bio-identical hormonal replacement and will be willing to consider these options as well (bio-identical progesterone alone usually does the trick in perimenopause though of course every case should be approached individually).
To be fair, not everybody will be a good candidate for bio-identical hormonal replacement. Certain pre-existing conditions may preclude this type of treatment. However, everyone focused on aging gracefully and living a long, high-quality life should at least know about those options and consider them open-mindedly. And one other thing to consider, too, is personal development work for Nature favors not only the fertile but also the wise. It doesn’t have to be either – or though. You can do both bio-identical hormone replacement and personal development work and get the best of both worlds.