Between the “expert” at Whole Foods, your hairdresser, and your most savvy friend, it’s hard to know who or what to believe when it comes to hormone replacement therapy (HRT). So for part two of our HRT series, we’re going to dispel the myths and highlight the truth around HRT.
If you haven’t listened to Part One, you can go back to learn more about what HRT is, its history, and our two expert guests: Marie Hoäg, an independent clinical hormone medicine consultant, and Anthony Llabres, a Certified Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P).
And if you have any questions you’d like answered in Part Three, please reach out to me by email: thomunderwood.net/contact.
So let’s get into some of the biggest HRT myths:
There’s only one kind of HRT. In the last episode, we covered the four generations of HRT. On top of that, all forms of HRT are not created equal. Therapies using low, static doses are just not as effective, and Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy actually mimics a woman’s hormones in her reproductive prime.
HRT causes cancer, blood clots, and cardiovascular disease. There’s a lot of misinformation about estrogen, testosterone, and cancer. Estrogen alone has never been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer. The combination of some Estrogens and Progestins has been shown in some studies to slightly increase the incidence, but other studies have not confirmed that. Progesterone in conjunction with Estrogen, however, is required if the patient still has a uterus as Estrogen alone increases the risk of uterine cancer. Anthony points to the work of Abraham Morgentaler, MD, to disprove the myths around testosterone and prostate cancer: "Destroying the Myth About Testosterone Replacement and Prostate Cancer".
Saliva is the best way to test for hormones. This just isn’t true for the more advanced HRT systems. There are actually physical, mental, and emotional symptoms for hormone deficiency, but the most reliable way is blood serum testing. Marie’s view is that if there is not enough estrogen circulating in the blood, then a woman just doesn't have enough.
Any doctor can prescribe HRT. Technically any doctor can prescribe HRT, but they don’t teach this in medical school and, without the proper training, they may not understand how to test and administer hormones correctly.
Only women in menopause need HRT. Menopause just means that your period has stopped for 12 months; for whatever reason, your ovaries have shut down and you’re no longer producing abundant amounts of estrogen. However, Marie is a big believer in menopause prevention – “Women never have to go into menopause, as far as I’m concerned. If you maintain a healthy menstrual cycle, then you never have to go into menopause. And that can be done with abundant levels of estrogen.”
Restoring menstrual cycles with HRT is bad. As we addressed previously, no women needs to be in menopause – and if we can restore their natural menstrual cycle, they’re better off.
HRT should only be done in low doses and only for the shortest time possible. In reality, the best results we’ve seen come from advanced rhythmic dosing that simulate physiologic dosing levels. You need the right hormones in the right amounts in the right manner, and what’s “right” isn’t the same for every individual.
Bioidentical means natural. Bioidentical hormones are NOT natural – the only way to get a natural bioidentical hormone is to drink horse urine or eat the soy plant, as reported by Lauren Streicher, MD – but it does have the same molecular makeup as the human body’s.
HRT will not affect weight issues. Women need estrogen in abundant amounts to maintain or recover their figure; estrogen dictates the shoulder-waist-hip ratio. So women will have a hard time losing weight if they are estrogen deficient.
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