Menopause is a natural phase in a woman’s life. When our ovaries stop producing estrogen, our adrenal glands are supposed to kick in and provide us with the estrogen we need. Our fat cells also produce estrogen and so does the uterus. Then our liver processes and packages those hormones, and the thyroid hormones play a role. What makes the difference between a woman who has no symptoms at menopause and a woman who suffers with a multitude of the symptoms mentioned above? Women with exhausted adrenals, low levels of thyroid hormones and a congested liver will have terrible menopause symptoms compared to women with a healthy liver, healthy adrenals, and adequate thyroid hormones (See Adrenal Exhaustion and Thyroid for more information). Low levels of thyroid hormones cause extreme hot flashes and night sweats, vaginal dryness and flooding, and irregular periods. Exhausted adrenals promote insomnia, whereby you go to bed and fall asleep just fine, but wake up three hours later and are unable to return to sleep.
Most women have been taught they are estrogen deficient, yet we are over loaded with toxic environmental estrogens that contribute to our hormonal problems.
HRT Concerns: Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) would have hit its demographic sweet spot with the largest number of baby boomers turning 50 in 2009 and expected sales would have been in the billions. HRT was originally developed to halt the symptoms of menopause, but doctors also prescribed HRT to prevent cardiovascular disease and bone loss, keep teenage girls from growing too tall, relieve depression, reduce urinary incontinence, and stop Alzheimer’s disease and to keep us young forever. It became the panacea for all sorts of women’s conditions and was touted as the “fountain of youth” even though the safety of HRT was still being heavily debated. No randomized, controlled clinical trials were ever conducted to verify that HRT should be used for all these conditions; and its safety in healthy women was never proven.
Then in July 2002, the Women’s Health Initiative study, a clinical trial designed to determine if HRT was beneficial to healthy women, was halted five years and two months into the study due to serious safety concerns. This study, which was supposed to last eight years, involved 16,608 healthy, post-menopausal women (meaning their periods had stopped for 12 months), who were at low risk for heart disease. The women received 0.625 mg of equine (horse) estrogen along with 2.5 mg of synthetic progestins.
The study concluded that the combination of estrogen and progestins posed a significant health risk to women and that any benefits from HRT were not worth the side effects. The study found a 41 percent increase in the risk of stroke, a 29 percent increase in the risk of heart attack, a doubled risk of blood clots and a 22 percent increase in cardiovascular disease..
Later in 2003, scientists reported that women who took the combination of estrogen and progestins were found to have double the risk of developing dementia. But the estrogen-only arm of the WHI study was still allowed to continue until 2004, when they halted it due to increased risk of stroke, dementia and mild brain damage. Hopefully, women will pay attention to these results and avoid HRT.
Less than 10 percent of all menopausal women will need some type of hormones for extreme, uncontrollable hot flashes and night sweats; the rest can use natural herbs, vitamins, minerals and lifestyle changes.