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Bioidentical vs Synthetic Hormone Replacement in Menopause

roses grunge © lynette sheppard

This guest post was written by Dr. Jo Ann Holoka, Jacksonville Bioidentical Hormones Expert and part of BodyLogicMD, a network of highly trained physicians across the country who use BHRT (bioidentical hormone therapy) to help anyone suffering from hormone related conditions such as adrenal fatigue, menopause, and andropause (the male menopause).

The difference between bioidentical and synthetic hormones:

Ever since the Women’s Health Initiative studies came to a screeching halt in 2002, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has garnered a pretty bad rep. The number of women using HRT declined significantly after it was discovered that the combination of hormones that most women were taking (namely progestin and estrogen) increased the likelihood of heart disease, breast cancer, blood clots and stroke.

The main problem with these studies is that they were only focusing on women who used synthetic hormones, such as Premarin, Provera and Prempro. Nearly a decade later, hormone therapy has become more popular among menopausal women, thanks to natural HRT alternatives, like bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT).

Bioidentical hormones are molecularly identical to the hormones that the body produces naturally. Bioidentical hormones are derived from naturally occurring, plant-based sources, such as soy and yams. There are several advantages when using natural bioidentical hormones, when compared to their synthetic counterpart.

Being that bioidentical hormones are exact replicas of the hormones your body already produces, the body can’t distinguish the supplemented hormones from the ones your body is producing naturally. So when you take a blood test, your total estradiol level reflects both the bioidentical estradiol and the natural estradiol. This makes it easier for your doctor to closely monitor your total levels and adjust your treatment regimen accordingly. Most synthetic hormones are metabolized differently and aren’t visible using standard lab tests.

Another benefit of using bioidentical hormones is that they’re typically not taken orally. Most synthetic forms of HRT are administered orally, in the form of a pill. Instead, bioidentical hormones are compounded in a laboratory and come in the form of creams, gels, pellets or injection (though not common). It’s best to avoid taking hormones orally (bioidentical or not), because it can lead to high blood pressure, weight gain, elevated cholesterol levels and has even been found to bring on sudden bouts of depression in some women.

Perhaps the most alluring of benefits is the fact that each BHRT regimen is individually tailored to meet your specific needs. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all treatment when it comes to balancing hormones. Two women of the same age, who follow the same diet and workout routine, could have wildly different hormone levels. Bioidentical hormones are custom compounded based on your hormone levels and your specific set of symptoms. This makes them far more effective than the synthetic HRT drugs that are currently on the market.

Be it hormone therapy or anything else that may relate to your health or well-being, it’s always a good idea to do your homework and research all of your options before making a decision. It’s also important to remember that you know your body better than anyone else. If you feel like your body is trying to tell you something, don’t hesitate to talk with your doctor about further testing to take a closer look at what’s going on inside.

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September is Menopause Awareness Month


I was contacted recently by a representative from a new menopause website. The site is called menopauseawarenessmonth.org, though I’m guessing they will still be around once September slips into October and beyond.

Menopause Awareness Month is a fine idea. Not like any of us confronted with the Big M have any choice but to be aware of it. Nor are our loved ones, friends, and coworkers allowed to be oblivious.

Still, the changes wrought by Menopause seem to bring more than an awareness of symptoms. We may look at our lives differently as we are shaken, not stirred, out of our comfort zones.

What has Menopause made you aware of? Perhaps you are aware of things you never contemplated; perhaps you simply have a heightened awareness of things within your sphere of consciousness. What, besides hot flashes and mood swings, has menopause brought to the forefront for you?

Share your thoughts and feelings here. I’m musing on this question myself for the next blog entry. Stay tuned, dear goddesses. This is how we take the next steps along the journey post menopause to Aging Gracefully and Second Adulthood: by sharing with one another.

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Minnie Pauz: Story of A Menopause Pioneer

Dee Adams is one of the very first Menopause health activists. 16 years ago she created Minnie Pauz, a cartoon character who spoke for hot flashers everywhere.

Her website continues to save women’s sanity and help them through the transition of the Big M with humor and real information. The Venuses only wish they’d found her sooner! (Or maybe not – we might not have been so motivated to create our own group of goddesses.) Luckily, we’ve found her now.

Dee recounted the beginning of Minnie in our recent phone conversation. She was recovering from a traumatic divorce, but making it on her own, when she broke her ankle. During her convalescence, she was laid off from her job.

Unemployed, in a dinky duplex, depressed and on public assistance, Dee thought it couldn’t get any worse. And menopause struck.

The Missouri Rehab Work Center intervened by getting her a computer so she could work from home, while her ankle healed. Things were looking up a bit. However, menopause remained a challenge (like it does.)

Then inspiration dawned. One day, an idea of a menopausal cartoon character just popped into her head full blown complete with name and spelling:  Minnie Pauz. Dee had never drawn a cartoon in her life!

But she was filled with thoughts and feelings about all the changes the Big M visits upon us. She reasoned, rightly, that she couldn’t be the only woman blindsided by this forced journey. Her natural humor helped her cope and she was moved to offer her laughter and learnings to similarly afflicted women.

Minnie has gained a following by illuminating the joys and sorrows of Menopause. She verbalizes the thoughts we all have as we Change.

Minnie Pauz devotees may notice that we always see Minnie from the back. Dee shares that she doesn’t like how she draws faces. She still doesn’t know what Minnie looks like, but the consequence of never seeing her face makes her everywoman. As Dee says, she’s sort of like Wilson on the TV show Home Improvement – the next door neighbor whose face is never revealed.

What advice does she have for women going through the most world shattering transition since puberty? “You have to look at everything. What works for one woman won’t work for another.”

Dee is expanding her website even as we speak. Having survived and thrived during menopause (while helping so many of us through it), she is now examining Life after Menopause. She calls her new venture “Afterpause” and it appears on the bottom of her home page as a door, which she says will be gradually opening. Watch for it! Because we’re not done yet!

Sign up for your free at minniepauz.com to get your laughs direct to your mail inbox. Better yet, order Dee’s book, Laugh Your Way Through Menopause for a bigger dose of Minnie’s midlife musings. And you can become a Fan of Minnie on Facebook, too.

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Menopause: I Laughed In Its Face

by lynette sheppard


Menopause the Musical would not be so successful if the whole transition weren’t so laughable. And the Venuses would be the first to say that humor has saved us. Humor and girlfriends.

Sometimes, though, the whole Menopause journey is so sucky that it’s hard to remember to laugh. And for those times we have a whole slew of cyber girlfriends to start us giggling at the absurdity once again.

Minnie Pauz is a cartoon menopausal everywoman. Check her out at minniepauz. com and sign up to get the cartoons. Better yet, buy the book! You’ll be hearing more about her in an upcoming blog entry where her creator, Dee Adams, tells how Minnie came to be.

A newcomer to our internet coffee klatch (or wine tasting, whatever) is 4honeybunch2.com. She has a line of hilarious cards, magnets, and more. And what I love most? She’ s not trying for political correctness – just telling it like it is.

The universality of the Menopause experience transcends borders (and so much more!) Izzy Muses In her humorous blog covers menopause and Other Midlife Matters from her home in the Emerald Isle.

The self-described Queen of Planet Hot Flash leads with “Put On Your Big Girl Panties and Deal With It” on her blogsite. Her menopausal rants are definitely good for a chuckle. Sadly, she hasn’t posted much lately, maybe Planet Hot Flash is going through some climate change. Like all of us. I can relate.

Longtime reader and blogger friend, Poetikat ,wrote this alphabet soup comparison poem about the difference HRT can make for some of us menopausal goddesses.

Three Letters Can Make a Big Difference

Without HRT
acrimonious
bitchy
confrontational
disgruntled
exasperated
furious
grave
hellish
irate
jugular
kick-ass
long-suffering
malevolent
nettled
overwrought
provoked
quick to judge
rage filled
snippy
tightly-wound
uncontrollable
vitriolic
wigged out
x is for murder
yelling
zoo-bound

Verdict: Locked up!

With HRT
agreeable
benevolent
composed
delighted
enervated
funny
gleeful
hilarious
incandescent
jocular
kick-up-your-heels
laughing
merry
nice (and naughty)
open-minded
pleasant
quiet
restful
soothing
tranquil
unflappable
vibrant
warm
x is for xstatic
yearning
zip-a-dee-doo-dah!
Verdict: Set free!

Many thanks to all these menopause goddesses helping us cope by making us laugh!

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Menopause Information: Best Websites for Menopausal Women

Navigating the net can be confusing and disheartening. When you google the word menopause, you are bombarded with almost 10 million results. (9,680,000 to be exact.) Sheesh! Where does one start? How do we find good information?

Googling menopause blogs is not much more helpful. The top results are blogs that have few or new entries for several months. Sadly, Sue Richards of the top result, My Menopause Blog, has Parkinson’s disease and is unable to blog at this time. Google is woefully behind.

Add to that the overwhelming number of blogs and sites that are moderated by drug companies or selling something and it is no wonder that menopausal women are hard pressed to find good information on the net. The whole process just wears us down and we have to head to the kitchen for something chocolate.

So to save my goddess sisters from frustration and meltdown, I’ve compiled a list of what I believe are the best websites and blogs for women of a certain age. (Besides our own Menopause Goddess Blog, of course.) Here are the first few you will want to check out. Feel free to celebrate with the aforementioned chocolate.

Women in Balance
Women in Balance ( http://www.womeninbalance.org/) is a national, nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower women to take charge of their hormone health.

Education is a mainstay of this site. Not affiliated with any other group, they offer unbiased information from a multitude of sources. Their site also offers a healthcare practitioner finder. Subscribe to their monthly newsletter and watch for their one day Hormone Education days in a city near you. Last year’s hugely successful venues were Portland OR and Tampa FL.

They also publish selected entries from our Menopause Goddess Blog in the monthly newsletter. However, I loved and followed their site long before they asked.

I especially resonate with this philosophy from their Vision statement:
Knowledge is power. Balance is everything.
Hear, hear.

Vibrant Nation
Vibrant Nation (VibrantNation.com) is an online community dedicated to women 50 and older. Here’s an excerpt from their “About Us” description:

“At Vibrant Nation, these women (whom we’ve named “Vibrant Women”) can look for tips, share information, and join in smart conversations about work, style, relationships, wellness, books, and more.”

It’s a very user friendly site, where you can start a discussion or conversation easily. Or you can just “lurk” and read what other women are saying. Topics are broken up into the following:

# work & money
# fashion & beauty
# family & relationships
# love & sex
# health & fitness
# books
# technology & internet
# spirituality
# home & garden
# giving back
# going green
# food & drink
# arts & entertainment
# travel
# news & politics

They partner with all manner of vibrant women bloggers in the Blog Circle and are growing a real voice in the marketplace, making women over 50 a force to be reckoned with.

Lastly, I love the name. Vibrant. Yes, we are.

Minnie Pauz
Humor is what saves us during the menopause journey, so the third site we’ll highlight in this blog entry is menopause cartoons. minniepauz. com Hilarious and all too true, cartoon heroine Minnie Pauz says “If you don’t get it, You ain’t there yet.”

You can subscribe to the newsletter to get the latest cartoon. The moderator also has a good blog and a bulletin board where women can post issues and dialogue with one another. I personally found the bulletin board format a little confusing and “busy”, so it wasn’t my favorite part of the site.

I’ll be sharing more cyberspace gold in upcoming blog entries. For now, check these out and let me know what you think or share your favorite sites with us here at Menopause Goddess Blog

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