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98: Is HRT The Answer To Perimenopause?




(Podcast transcript available at the end of this blog post)


If you're a woman in perimenopause, you've probably been experiencing hormonal imbalances and looking for solutions to restore your health and vitality. So you've likely come across talks about how HRT can be the answer to all of your hormonal problems.


In this blog post, we delve into the topic of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and explore its benefits, cautions, and alternatives.


The Importance of Foundational Health

In the journey towards hormonal balance, it is crucial to address foundational aspects of health such as nutrition, sleep, stress management, and physical activity. These fundamental pillars play a significant role in regulating hormones and supporting overall health. By focusing on nourishing your body with wholesome foods, prioritizing restful sleep, managing stress levels, and engaging in regular physical movement, you create a strong foundation for hormonal balance.


Understanding Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

Hormone replacement therapy, commonly known as HRT, has gained popularity as a treatment option for women experiencing hormonal imbalances during perimenopause. HRT involves supplementing the body with external hormones to alleviate symptoms and restore hormonal levels. While HRT can provide significant relief and improvements in quality of life, it is essential to approach it with caution.


The Benefits and Risks of HRT

Many women report feeling a remarkable improvement in their health and well-being while using hormone replacement therapy. However, it is crucial to be aware of the potential risks associated with HRT, including the need for careful monitoring and management by healthcare professionals. Misuse or long-term reliance on HRT could lead to even more symptoms and other hormonal imbalances.


Exploring Alternatives to HRT

In addition to hormone replacement therapy, there are natural alternatives and herbal supplements that can support hormonal balance. Herbs like ashwagandha, maca, vitex, black cohosh, wild yam, and licorice root have been traditionally used to aid in hormone regulation and alleviate symptoms of hormonal imbalance. These natural remedies can be considered as complementary options to support the body's natural processes.


Embracing a Holistic Approach to Hormonal Health

When addressing hormonal imbalances, it is essential to take a holistic approach that encompasses various aspects of health and well-being. By combining foundational health practices with personalized strategies, including herbal supplements and lifestyle modifications, women in perimenopause can move towards achieving hormonal balance and vitality.


Conclusion

Navigating the complexities of hormonal changes during perimenopause can be challenging, but with awareness, education, and support, women can empower themselves to make informed choices about their health. Whether considering hormone replacement therapy or exploring natural alternatives, the key lies in understanding the body's unique needs and addressing them with a holistic approach to health and wellness.


If you resonate with the topics discussed in this blog post and would like to explore personalized health strategies for hormonal balance, make sure to book a free discovery call: https://calendly.com/vandghie/impact. Together, we can explore your best next step to achieve hormonal health and well-being through perimenopause.


Thank you for joining me on this exploration of hormone replacement therapy and alternatives for women in perimenopause. Stay tuned for more insightful content on holistic health and wellness.


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Podcast Transcript:

  Hello and welcome back to episode 98 of the perimenopause podcast. Now last week I talked a little bit about all these health dreams that is really taking us by storm. I see all these big entrepreneurs talking about their health journeys that they've been on, they've gone to hit rock bottom, burnt out and then ended up in some sort of a rehab facility and then came back out and now they're implementing all of these.


strategies to try and stay on top of their health. And this includes things like a Peloton bike and cold plunges and infrared lights and all of the crazes that will cost you a whole lot of money. But as I said last week, if we only use these things as The only strategy to stay on top of burnout is not going to work for very long So we need to get those those foundational things in place.

That's really important so don't be fooled by all the crazes that are out there at the moment and the message of These are the kinds of things that you need to stay on top of your health to get rid of the burnout to Lose the weight all the things So go back and listen to episode 97 if you want to learn more about that.


But today I want to talk about hormone replacement therapy, which is one of those other things that I hear and see a lot being shared on social media by some of the medical doctors that have gone functional medicine. And there's a whole lot of talk about HRT or hormone replacement therapy at the moment.


And I think, you know, there's a whole lot of truth in that. I think hormone replacement therapy can really be life changing. It can literally take you from feeling completely dysfunctional to feeling like yourself again. Feeling normal, feeling amazing. Women really do report that it makes them feel an incredible improvement in their health and like they can actually Do the normal things of life again and actually have vitality and joy in all the things And so I do agree that there's a whole lot of health benefits in hormone replacement therapy.


I think it's important to find a healthcare practitioner that's going to be very, very responsible with it as well. Um, because I've seen women in my practice that have been on these medications for about three years. Initially, it went really, really well. And then it felt like after a year, they've gone backwards again.


And then they end up at my clinic looking for the next thing. Like they've been helped for a little while and now things are changing. And so this is my biggest word of caution around the use of HRT. And that is that it needs to be managed really, really well. And this is why I'm saying we really need healthcare practitioners that are going to be responsible around it.


They're going to keep their thumb on the needle. They're going to just keep testing and monitoring how you're going with that medication, testing your clinical signs and symptoms. But what you do need to remember with hormone replacement therapy is that it's still a pharmaceutical drug. And my biggest concern with HRT is that you're adding external hormones to the system, to your, to your body.


And when we do that, we are altering the level hormone, levels of hormones, which is sending a message to those control centers in the brain to let it know that there are enough hormones and the body can shut down its production or reduce its production. So for me, you know, it can bring that interim, Improvement, but it's always important to use this as a little bridge that we build as I always use this analogy from The side of the chasm where I feel completely out of control.


I don't know what's going on with my body Everything feels unpredictable. I'm not functional Building that bridge over to the other side where I can actually carry on with normal life And feel like a healthy person while we're investigating this chasm down the bottom. What is causing this chasm? So we use it as a little bridge while we do further investigations and work on the foundational things.


So that we can help the body to get to a stage where it's going to be making these hormones in healthy levels again. I think I've got a little bit of a problem with our HRT in that we are now encouraging women in perimenopause as early as 35 to be using drugs that previously were used for women in menopause only to prevent um, bone density issues and all sorts of other things.


So instead of encouraging women to find out why has my hormone production reduced significantly to the point where I have symptoms, we offering another quick fix. And if you've been around for long enough, you'll know that I am so against quick fixes because what, what happens is that we're not addressing the underlying cause and it continues to exist.


And therefore we're creating other problems into the future. So right now I might feel bitter, but into the future, I might have some other issues popping up as well. So when we think about low hormone production, or hormonal imbalance, we want to understand why that is happening. So instead of just slapping the HRT bandaid on the issue, we want to understand where this is coming from.


And for that, we really do need a health professional to help us understand the, the, the mechanisms of hormone production and hormone Um, metabolism and how we get rid of those excess hormones. How do we increase the production, all of the things, which is what I really, really specialize in. We need to understand how this body works.


How does it produce hormones? What does it look like when my hormones are all over the show? How do I identify those symptoms and what do I do immediately to counter the symptoms that I'm experiencing? And it really is, it can become this tango, this, this dance. Um, Between your body communicating and you responding, and then your body communicating and you responding and you understand your symptoms and you immediately know what to do.


So first of all, what I wanna say is HIT, I guess it comes down to HIT can be a very, very wonderful tool to use. It should be a short term tool while we're figuring out why hormone production is really low. Now remember, I'm not talking about post menopausal women here because sometimes we do need those medications.


But even in that, our bodies were created to go through perimenopause, then go into menopause, and be That's normal. That is a healthy phase to go through. It's not a phase that necessarily requires prescription drugs. It's not a disease. It's a normal reproductive phase. So even for me, I mean, I cannot make that call right now whether I will be using HRT post menopause, but it'll be my absolute goal to avoid it.


My absolute goal to avoid it as, as far as I can. So what are the foundational things that we need to look at? Look at, so. Like I said, hormone replacement therapy is prescribed when hormones are imbalanced. Now, estrogen is really low, progesterone is really low, so what we need to understand is step, take a step back and go, why is the production of these hormones low?

What, what parts of my body need support in order for it to pick back up that production? Now, we do that through the foundational things of health. Food, sleep, nervous system regulation, and how we move our bodies. And it sounds very basic, uh, but it, it is. It's because it is. It's very basic. Our bodies were created to require food, sleep, full recovery, nervous system regulation, and movement.


And if we don't get those four basic things right, then it causes major health issues. So first of all, am I using food to nourish? Or am I just using food to fill a hole in my stomach when I'm hungry? Am I emotional eating? There's a whole lot of work that needs to go in around food and how I view food and how I use food.


So that's the first thing. Secondly, we need to understand what are our sleep habits. Do we have good nighttime routines? Do we have seven to eight hours at least of good quality sleep every night? That's restorative. That's going to help my body heal. Thirdly, how do I regulate that nervous system? What do I even have self awareness?


around with my body's in that fight or flight mode. How do I develop that awareness? And then how do I turn the fight or flight mode off and the rest and digest nervous system on so that my body can be at rest? That's the third thing. And the fourth thing is how do I move my body? Do I over exercise, which is what I did for many, many years?


Do I lack movement? How do I move my body? So those four things are foundational. They are key to regulating hormones. Um, and I want this in this episode, I won't be going into those. That's those four topics of stuff that I talk about all the time. If you go back on this podcast, you will definitely find some episodes relating to those four foundational things.


But today I want to just talk about a little bit What are the alternatives that we can use to hormone replacement therapy? And there are some herbals that we can do, can use. A lot of it seems to be lacking in good quality research articles, but what we do need to remember here is that the natural health industry does not have to The, um, monetary power behind it that the pharmaceutical industry does.


And so therefore there's not always the money to fund these massive research projects, um, to prove, so to say, that these, these drugs work. And also to remember that the pharmaceutical industry wants to have a monopoly. It wants to prove that it's the only thing that's going to work. Hormone replacement therapy is going to be the only thing to work.


But that's, there is no truth in that. For some people HRT would be good, but I think it should be our last resort. We need to get the foundational things right that I just mentioned now, and then we need to experiment with a few of these herbals to see if they can support us enough to produce those hormones at healthy levels again to avoid those pharmaceutical drugs.


So I'll just mention a few here. I'm not going to go into a whole lot of detail, but what I do want to say is that I've used with great success. Some or all of these products with different clients of mine for myself personally for my daughter that was going through Puberty a few years ago and really struggled.


So it really is a matter of trying these products and seeing what works well for your body because remember we cannot slap a Label on all of us and say this is going to work for everyone because we are so unique The causes of our hormonal imbalance are so unique. The way we run our bodies and our lifestyle is so unique that we can't for sure know which one's going to work for you.


So I do recommend that you use a hormone product. There's a whole lot of natural product ranges out there at the moment. And some of them will have a combination of these herbs. So that could be a good place to start. Just to support, bring that additional support. But again, we do not want to use these herbals as a quick fix.


You want to be using these herbals in combination with the foundations that I talked about. The food, sleep, nervous system regulation and movement. It's when we use it in combination that it's going to support the body. So it's not a quick fix. It's not a magic bullet, but we use it in combination as an additional support.


So the first thing that you may have heard of is ashwagandha. Ashwagandha Which is, and we call it an adaptogenic herb, which supports the adrenal glands to, um, regulate, to, to, You know, support all the work that the adrenal glands have to do. Like it's producing all of the cortisol, but it's also producing the estrogen and the progesterone and testosterone and all of the things.

And so Ashwaganda is a really good adaptogenic herb. Another one is Maca. We know these, um, some research on it in terms of infertility and that it increases the production of progesterone, anti testosterone. So Macca can be a good one. The only thing that I would say here is that we need to be. Uh, aware of testosterone levels.


So if you have something like PCOS, MACA is probably not something that we would necessarily recommend. But look out for things like hairs growing on your chin, getting a bit more aggressive, that kind of thing. If you use MACA, that could be an indication that your testosterone levels are lifting higher than it should.


But for most women in perimenopause, we have MACA is a really good supplement that we can use as well. Vitex has been proven to really support, uh, PME symptoms in the production of these hormones, as well as black cohosh. So those two things are really good. Wild Yam has been proven to support really low estrogen.


Now there's a product made by Young Living. that is called Progestins Phyto Plus. And it has got some wild yam, which in the lab has been converted to progesterone as well. So it's got some natural progesterone in this serum. And this is something that I've recommended several times to some of my clients.


I use it all the time. I use it on my, uh, um, daughter that's going through puberty. So Progestins Phyto Plus is an excellent, excellent product that I highly recommend. It's a natural progesterone support. And I use it with clary sage, which is supportive of estrogen levels and estrogen regulation. So when we think about estrogen regulation, sometimes our different estrogens can be out of relationship to one another.


So we have E1, E2, and E3. When you're pregnant, you also have E4. But if we're not pregnant, we have those E1, E2, E3, and they should be in the same place. balance with one another and the total estrogen should also be in balance with progesterone. So something that's really good to support that estrogen dominance or just estrogen that's out of balance with one another is DIM, dim, which is a really A product that's really easy to get your hands on.


It supports liver function to regulate estrogen There's a little bit of studies on that supporting that so that is a good product as well And then licorice root has been proven also to support that liver function and then of course evening primrose Well, and also Omega 3 supplements, just those anti inflammatory products that support, um, get rid of inflammation in the body, which then further supports adrenal glands and also the production of those sex hormones.


So those are a few herbals that I would recommend that you start trialing in combination with those foundational things that are food, sleep, nervous system regulation, and movement. So if you have any specific questions about this, please do reach out to me as well. Now, if you want to work with me closely, we work through a specific health strategy for you.


We look at your business in combination with your Personal life and how do we address these foundational things? We look specifically at testing. We can do some hormone testing, some blood testing, and we come up with a very specific health strategy for you that will include recommendations around supplements as well.


You can reach out to me. And I will share with you all of the ways that you can work with me. So if you go into the show notes, you can book a free zoom discovery call with me. We will look at what is the best next step for you. So go into the show notes, click on book a call, and we'll just have a chat on zoom about what is the right strategy for you as well.

So thanks.

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