Bio-Identical Hormone Balancing for Men and Women

by James Occhiogrosso, N.D.
(Estero, FL, USA)

Men need testosterone, women need estrogen—or so it goes for the average person. But it is not so simple! There are many other hormones in the body that are crucial to good health, and the balance between them is most critical

The principle hormone men think of as they age is testosterone (and women — estrogen.) These are the well-known players that most people recognize immediately. In this article, we discuss the benefits of balancing of group of hormones called the “Sex Steroid Hormones.”

This group includes testosterone, estrogen and several others, but does not include many other hormones produced in the body. (Like thyroid hormones T3, T4 and TSH, etc.)

The interest in bio-identical hormone replacement has been growing steadily, especially because of Suzanne Somers, an actress and the author of several books on the subject. Her appearances on the Oprah show and CNN have had the positive effect of energizing the public to seek more information.

Bio-identical hormones are simply hormones whose molecular structure is identical to that produced by the human body. Such molecules are quickly recognized and assimilated by the body. Prescription hormone replacement therapy consists of animal and synthetic hormones. These hormones are not well recognized or assimilated by the human body, and thus, they cause unanticipated problems.

Hormones are the chemical messengers of the body, which are central to the body's functions. They determine how people perform both physically and emotionally. Optimal hormone levels and balance are necessary to maintain health. Hormones impact virtually every major system and organ in the body.

With increasing age, some hormone levels begin to drop and others tend to increase. This changes the ratio between hormones causing imbalances that play an important role in the aging process. Such imbalances can at times interfere with muscle development, skin health, sexual function, sleep patterns, and cognitive as well as emotional processes. Hormone deficiencies and imbalances have been associated with heart disease, sexual dysfunction, osteoporosis, behavioral and neurodegenerative disorders, certain types of cancers, and other serious health conditions.

Thus, when hormone levels are insufficient or out-of-balance, health problems can result. Often these health problems are minor in nature, but over time may become serious, debilitating, and occasionally life threatening. Monitoring hormone levels via home saliva testing kits can easily determine if reported symptoms are associated with hormonal imbalances or a specific hormone deficiency.

Age-related hormone changes occur in both men and women. In both sexes, the changes often begin in the late thirties or early forties and continue slowly and progressively. Of course, we are all familiar with the female menopause, which has the specific physical marker of cessation of the menstrual flow. Men do not have a specific physical event that marks their transition, but it is certainly present, and is generally known today as andropause.
It is important to understand that regardless of the onset of a physical event or symptoms that mark a transition, the actual decline typically begins many years earlier. Thus, the earlier one addresses age-related hormonal imbalances, the more benefits accrue.

In women the transition towards menopause is typically marked by the following symptoms:

· Increased Vaginal dryness
· Hot flashes
· Night sweats
· Low Libido
· Insomnia
· Nervousness, irritability
· Headaches
· Depression and Mood Changes
· Skin wrinkling and cosmetic changes
· Osteoporosis
· Altered fat and carbohydrate metabolism
· Atherosclerosis

And in men, symptoms are typically similar to those below:

· Decreased muscle mass
· Decreased strength
· Increased abdominal fat
· Decreased energy
· Decreased libido
· Erectile dysfunction
· Insomnia
· Increased Anxiety and Depression
· Prostate Enlargement
· Increased urinary problems
· Osteoporosis
· Atherosclerosis
· Night Sweats

Optimal health for both men and women is dependent on hormone balance, not just a single hormone. Men with low androgen (male) hormones or imbalances in their androgen to estrogen (or progesterone) levels can benefit enormously from hormone supplementation designed to achieve balance. Similarly, women whose estrogen (or progesterone) to androgen level is out of balance can eliminate many pre-, peri- and post- menopausal symptoms. Unfortunately, there is significant fear on the part of both men and women regarding any kind of hormone replacement therapy.

For women, this fear is primarily due to the termination (in July of 2002), of part of the National Institute of Health (NIH) Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study. The purpose of the WHI study was to examine the effects of widely used synthetic hormone replacement therapy (HRT) that combines the animal derived hormones estrogen and synthetic progestin. It was terminated early because the HRT increased the risk of a woman developing breast cancer, blood clots, or stroke.

Likewise, aging men have—for many years—been advised that increasing low testosterone levels would raise their risk of developing prostate cancer. This was based on research performed nearly seven decades ago. Current research suggests that this paradigm is wrong and that low testosterone levels, particularly low free testosterone levels, are actually associated with prostate dysfunction.

These fears cause many aging men and women to suffer through their “golden years” with considerable discomfort from serious hormone deficiencies or imbalances. Considering that natural bio-identical hormones are quite safe, and hormone levels can be easily determined in the privacy of one’s home with a saliva test kit, it is sad to see so many people suffering.

Author bio: James Occhiogrosso is a Natural Health Practitioner specializing in male and female health issues and author of several books. He maintains an active practice helping both men and women overcome hormonal and sexual issues associated with aging, including erectile dysfunction, loss of libido and menopausal problems.

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