Dear Pharmacist: I took your column regarding hormone replacement to my doctor. He's never ordered progesterone, just estrogen because of the hysterectomy. For eight years, I've suffered with occasional hot flashes, mood swings, insomnia, and I can't lose weight. Anyway, three days later, his nurse called to say he did some research, and wanted to add bio-identical progesterone to my compounded prescription cream. Two weeks later, I feel remarkably better. — S.H., Boca Raton
Dear S.H.: You're lucky your doctor is open-minded. This is an important topic so I'm revisiting it. Should a woman with a hysterectomy just take estrogen, or estrogen along with progesterone? It's not black and white. Some physicians refuse to recognize the importance of progesterone once the uterus is taken out! That's unfortunate because women could suffer needlessly.
There are progesterone receptors throughout the entire body. When you deprive a person of progesterone, an insufficiency develops and may lead to chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, brain fog, insomnia, hot flashes, inability to lose weight, dry skin, thinning hair, bone loss, PMS, fibroids or migraines. Progesterone is known to relieve these problems, whether or not a uterus is present.
It can benefit men sometimes, too. Progesterone inhibits 5-alpha reductase, which can help with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
There remains confusion about progestin (drugs) vs. progesterone (a natural, bioidentical hormone that humans produce). Progestin drugs have been associated with birth defects, whereas progesterone is the major hormone of pregnancy. Progestins, in some studies, may be associated with higher risk for breast cancer, heart attack and stroke, whereas progesterone is not. Progesterone stimulates production of thyroid hormone, important to every aspect of life.
According to two large European studies, women with or without a hysterectomy who use bioidentical hormones have no increased risk of any disease. So even though the current medical "standard of practice" still says to give unopposed estrogen, and some physicians adhere to this, other health experts completely disagree.
This information is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition. Go to SuzyCohen.com.
The right hormones can make you happy
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