I have always been interested, both as a health writer and a woman, in the use of natural hormones to treat a wide range of conditions. The development of the Pill, and then HRT, opened up a whole world of synthetic hormones to what at the time was an eager audience for help with birth control and symptoms of menopause.
However, like many ‘revolutions’, there have been casualties along the way. This is particularly true of the now well-established links between these hormone drugs and heart disease, breast cancer and other risks associated with taking synthetic hormones.
It was my great privilege, through my colleague Dame Dr Shirley Bond, to meet and work with the late John Lee MD and discover that there was indeed an alternative. He was an inspiration to many women and, despite negative press and an indifferent and often hostile response from the medical profession, we have him to thank for what he called ‘the grassroots revolution’ of women making their own decision on hormone health through his championing of bioidentical natural progesterone as a true alternative for menopause and osteoporosis treatment.
Why bioidentical hormones are important
In my articles, talks and books I took on the task of spreading information about natural hormones to women and their doctors. It has often been an uphill struggle as it must be said that the women themselves were usually a lot more responsive and interested than their doctors were.
But as time has gone on the risks associated with synthetic progestins and the all-too frequent confusion between them and the natural hormone, has made it vital that women have the information they need to make an informed choice.
HRT and the risks are well known: heart disease, strokes, cancer to name the major three. That is one of the main reasons that women are now recommended not to be on it for longer than 5-6 years. However there are also risks associated with the coil and the Pill because of the synthetic progestins they contain, which carry their own side effects.
At menopause many women are on the Pill or Coil for heavy periods and they often tell me they are on a progesterone pill or coil, but that is very rarely the case as they are virtually always synthetic progestins. The problem is that progestins are routinely referred to as progesterone, even by doctors, and the fact is that progestins have side effects that are well documented, but bioidentical hormones do not.
The rise of oestrogen dominance
There is so much health information around now you might wonder why a special website dedicated to natural hormones is needed, but I still see so much disinformation about natural hormones being repeated that I hope that I can offer an alternative view.
One of the major concerns is the rise in women (and men too) showing oestrogen dominance symptoms, where their oestrogen levels are not opposed by progesterone, its natural balancer. You can be out of balance even with low levels of oestrogen as your progesterone levels will certainly be even lower.
Women are given either oestrogen only HRT or oestrogen plus a progestin at menopause and after a hysterectomy but bioidentical doctors have long argued that women need both hormones and certainly not synthetic equivalents, particularly when their oestrogen levels are often artificially high through using HRT.
Fibroids, endometriosis, breast cancer, weight gain, swollen and sore breasts are all indicators that you are oestrogen dominant as these conditions are all linked to excess oestrogen. Rebalancing with bioidentical natural progesterone is the next step to consider before embarking on a regime of HRT.
Women use bioidentical hormone creams from puberty to post menopause so there is no age barrier, it just depends on whether you have symptoms that you need help to get under control and that need rebalancing. The vast majority of women simply need bioidentical natural progesterone, but women with symptoms such as vaginal dryness or very severe symptoms not responding to progesterone alone are better with a combination cream containing both progesterone and oestrogen.
If you are not sure which hormones you need, then the following articles will be helpful: