A few weeks ago, I attended a 3 day, multi speaker conference known as “Hormone Boot Camp” that was attended by over 250 health care providers from around the country. I’ve attended these hormone conferences many times before, usually every other year since med school. I am a hormone user myself and have many patients on hormone therapy and want to be sure I’m keeping us all safe while we take advantage of the many benefits of bioidentical replacement. I also want to keep up on new studies, new medications, and new delivery systems.
10 things I want my patients to know:
- Starting hormone replacement at an earlier age is better. There is little effect and potential harm if started > 10 years after menopause or if > 60 yo. They now refer to it as the “Critical Window” of the optimal time to start.
- In most cases, you do not need to stop hormones until you want to. You don’t need to come off due to an imagined increased risk. There are many long-term benefits of remaining on hormones beyond controlling symptoms such as hot flashes and insomnia including reduced heart disease, stronger bones, better cognition, less symptoms of aging and more.
- If you start hormones too late, it can increase the risk of dementia. But if started earlier it can prevent or delay the onset.
- All forms of hormone testing (blood, urine, saliva) are valid for a baseline test, but salivary testing might be best evaluating hormone therapy. If you are using serum (blood) tests for checking doses, serum estradiol with show up in a lower range.
- Breast cancer risk from estrogen therapy is minimal and some studies even show that taking estrogen may decrease your risk of breast cancer. Daily alcohol creates a greater risk than estrogen does.
- Even if you have breast cancer, you are more likely to die from cardiovascular disease. Only 1 out of 31 American women die from breast cancer, while heart disease causes 1 of every 3 deaths. 75% of patients (men and women) hospitalized for a heart attack had cholesterol levels that would indicate they were not at high risk for a cardiovascular event. At BNHC we can run expanded lipid tests to show much more helpful information to help modify your risk. Read more in Dr. Nicole Maxwell’s article https://boisenaturalhealth.com/the-low-down-on-lipids/
- In women with a family history of breast cancer or BRCA 1 & 2 mutations, hormone therapy does not increase risk of getting cancer. If personal history of breast cancer, some forms of hormones may be useful for symptom control with little risk.
- Estrogen and progesterone may not be enough to increase libido. Testosterone is often needed and can sometimes work wonders. *
- If you had your ovaries removed, replacing those lost hormones is very important to reduce the risk of bone loss, dementia, and other diseases of aging. 25% of women who have a hysterectomy only (kept their ovaries) will lose ovarian function after the surgery and have an earlier menopause.
- One of the speakers Tori Hudson, ND a former professor of mine and the author of books herself says that the book Estrogen Matters by Avrum Bluming, MD and Carol Tavris, PhD is the only book she recommends for both patients and providers!
* Big News – I now have a DEA number which means I can prescribe testosterone now. Come see me if your estrogen and progesterone aren’t doing enough to help with libido!