Monday, January 26, 2009

2009 & Bioidentical HRT

Some of you, like me, may never have heard of bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy, until recently. I am doing research on it now, and decided to write an email to many of my female friends, and the following is what I wrote:

I am writing this to all my female friends both pre-, or perimenopausal/menopausal women, to do some networking among those of you who are familiar or have done some research on the subject. You may have seen the airing on Oprah, on Thursday and Friday, with many guest, some famous and some not. I am reading the books by Dr. Northrup, and Robin McGraw (Dr. Phil's wife), and am researching online to find more information about this 'more natural' way of hormone replacement. I would like to hear from any of you who are using this method, and what you are experiencing with the use of it. As I consider the possibility of using this myself, I am curious that no one I know has ever mentioned it to me, why, and other than we just never talk about anything more than the hot flashes we "live" with. There are many more symptoms that we just chalk off to 'getting older', that may possibly be ones we can ease or even eliminate by using or doing something different in our lives.

I have listed a google link, where there are many different sites, pros and cons, about this subject.

Also, this is Oprah's link to many menopause articles. Her site has a great deal of information on bioidentical HRT and the Feb issue of "O" is about it also.

I thought there may be some of you who may be interested in feeling better, and this may be help for you also.

As I receive answers, I will put them at the end of this post also.

It seems that winter is so prolonged here, this year, and that I am feeling the effects of it more than ever. Because I have felt so blah, and not myself, I decided I needed to figure out why, other than the weather, and I suffer from SAD (seasonal affected disorder). When I saw the 2 programs on Oprah, I found a clear description, in many ways of I feel I am going through. No doubt this affects so many women, that at sometime, someone was going to deal with these issues in the media. It is amazing that we can suffer for so long, and all our doctors (men mostly) can write it off to "that age", and prescribe medicines for fourteen different things, and never hit the right cord in our lives. When I came to Costa Rica, I was taking nine medications for all my different aliments. I, a faithful and diligent patient, went regularly every 3 months to my MD, and hardly ever missed my pap or mammogram. Because my mother had had surgery for breast cancer, I knew to make my regular appointments and monthly personal exams. Hoping to change and possibly, eradicate my "normal" body aches and pains, and hoping the sunshine (Vit D) and better weather would help, I came to the tropics. I can say that many of my aliments have disappeared, and I have been able to cut out most of the medications I was on. Some symptoms have returned with the extendeed very cool winter we have had this year. SAD has been just as much of a problem, with the fog, and not so plesant days this winter. Along with that comes depression, and then the Lupus gives me more problems when it is very cool also. I found a wonderful doctor who practises alternative medicine, and does acupuncture. It helps return flexability to my spine, and makes movement much easier. I never thought that at 58 years old, I'd have so many parts that could hurt. I am going to continue my search for relief, and have high hopes that perhaps some relief can be found, like others have, in bioidentical HRT. Aging is too hard to do cold turkey! If you are reading this, perhaps you may have some insights, or comments that you may like to make about your experiences also. Please, write to me, so we can share our experiences.

One friend wrote: "... i have been on bioident. hormones since age 48. ...below is my gyno doctor here in cr. she speaks perfect english. her receptionist does not speak english. she is a beautiful women with a huge ego but i have grown to like her enough and she knows about bioident. hormones. the compound pharmacy, only one is in Los Yoses: Dr. Ana Violeta Ovares speaks English 2-225-3774, she knows about using the bus system to deliver your meds to you. her email is: Ana Violeta Ovares ..." There is a website with more info about the compound here

Another wrote: "
You should look for Suzanne Somers' (the actress from Three's Company, etc.) books - she is very enthusiastic about bio-identical hormones. Check this site you can probably find them inexpensively. ...Oh, another thing - if you're interested in Energy Medicine - check out Donna Eden's book Energy Medicine for Women, she talks alot about PMS, menopause, etc. She uses meridian therapy (tracing or flushing meridians using your hands), energy testing, sedating meridians, etc. Very cool information, I have that book & her earlier Energy Medicine book. She has DVDs too. Look at (will redirect you to her regular site)."

Another wrote: "
For those of you who i forwarded this to, please read the email further below sent to me by Mae, then my response ....this is a very important subject that we should familiarize ourselves with in case our doctors do not....we will have the ability to ask the "right" questions....for those of you already familiar you may pick up a few new resourses for info...

I am reading a book entitled "HRT: The Answers: A Concise Guide for Solving the Hormone Replacement Therapy Puzzle" by Pamela Wartian Smith, MD, MPH. Not light reading but very "enlightening". It was suggested to me by my OBGYN after she placed me on what is known as "bio-identical hormone therapy" (versus synthetic hormone that is usually given).....I take a "natural" progesterone and what is known as armour thyroid...(the most widely prescribed synthetic thyroid medication is synthroid and levoxyl. ) This thyroid med has been around since before the 1970's but then people made the synthetics in the lab and so thought they were "safer".... Bio identical are more closely matched to the natural hormone structure in the body and have many less side effects than the synthetic forms.....for example, the progesterone cream i use is made from an extract of soy beans or yams. The compounded formulation adds a natural enzyme to convert diosgenin in the yam to progesterone.

I am very lucky to have a doctor who is well-versed in this field of women's hormone replacement and she knew to do appropriate lab tests when I continued to complain about fatigue, severe almost debilitating PMS, irritability, inability to sleep.....the list of symptoms listed in the book stemming from hormonal imbalances is mind-boggling! My doc said that many doctors try and fit women into a "category" ...meaning, they will check the labs and you have to "fall below" a certain level before they think about placing you on any medication...that would have been the case with me b/c my thyroid levels were in the "acceptable" range but still very low......i cannot tell you the improvement i had after just a few weeks! The only side effects from taking my armour thyroid and progesterone has been better sleep and renewed energy!! :)

The unfortunate thing is that the insurance companies have become the "doctors" by means of dictating what will be a covered expense. My Dr told me that legislators are trying to pass laws making it impossible to get natural hormones through "compounding pharmacists" (natural hormone replacement meds are dispensed from what is known as "compounding pharmacies"...there are several in the US and I just order my meds online from It wouldnt be that way if they were the ones who were taking them and feeling better...i also think that sometimes physicians just dont give the patient the information we need to make the best decision for ourselves ...they get so used to just "writing a prescription" for this or that and we trust the doctors and dont even know there is another are we to ask questions ??

Another example my doc was mentioning related to insurance regulating our treatment is that of the Thermogram. Have any of you heard of a Thermogram? I hadnt. We always go for Mammograms, which the insurance pays for. A Thermogram is able to detect breast cancer 5-7 YEARS BEFORE it shows on a mammogram!!! ?????!!!!!! Why are they not routinely done, I asked? Because they cost $150 and insurance will not cover them. BTW, my doctor's office does have this technology and she usually will recommend to anyone with family history of breast cancer...of course, it is out of pocket but I would think well worth $150!!"

It is up to us to educate each other!"

I answered:"Thank you, Julie!!! I can't say enough about how wonderful it is to have others answer my email, with raving reviews on bioidentical HRT. It is amazing to me that so little has been said, until now about this. I feel fortunate that here in CR, there is a
compound pharmacy, I found out from one of my friends who I had no idea was using this method. We need to shout it from the roof tops, so others can "wake up" and hear that there is an answer to our pain."

Another friend wrote: "...I am of course a huge fan of bhrt.
I've used it for about 10 years, maybe more, with no ill effects and I wish
I'd been on at least progesterone since my first period!!! PMS allowed me
one week a month of sane behavior. The rest of the time, I was either
becoming a raving lunatic or subsiding from it...

Ana, the compounding pharmacist here, is excellent! And Dra. Ortuno is very
good, too."