Expert: Hormone & Metabolism

Northwest Health & Wellness

Are you...

Tired of being tired?
Anxious & irritable?
Gaining weight & you just can't lose it?
Not quite as sharp as you used to be?
Maybe more forgetful?
Uninterested in sex?
Having night sweats or trouble sleeping?
Having hot flashes?

Everyone is aging and with the years may come unwanted and sometimes intolerable hormone changes for both men and women. The age group most affected by these changing hormones is the baby boom generation, estimated to be nearly 28% of the population. ItÕs no wonder everyone seems to be talking about hormones. Sit among any group of women and the topic will eventually turn to a discussion about hormone symptoms and/or their weight dilemmas. This generation of men and women has had a profound effect on the health care industry. They are more educated about their own health needs and have the resources for research at their fingertips thanks to the internet. In addition, the results of the WomenÕs Health Initiative forced everyone to take a closer look at hormone replacement. Hence, both men and women are demanding better treatment options along with better quality of life when it comes to their overall health care.

Northwest Health & Wellness is a specialty clinic focusing on hormone and metabolism disorders. Debbie Phillips founded the company in 2004 and is a board certified family nurse practitioner who has received extensive training from multiple experts in the field of bio-identical hormones. She is dedicated to helping both women and men achieve optimal health and believes her focus on patient education empowers her patients to heal. Identifying and treating stress and fatigue helps to increase energy and metabolism, while restoring hormone balance gives her patients the quality of life they desire.

Hormone changes

There are different types of hormone changes that may occur. Peri-menopause generally affects women in childbearing and childrearing years. Peri-menopause can begin at any age and may start up to 15-20 years before a woman enters full menopause. These women may have regular or irregular menstrual cycles. The symptoms that are generally most noticeable are increasing irritability, agitation, anxiety, sleep disturbances, breast tenderness, decreased libido, heavier periods and/or more frequent periods. Some women will opt for a hysterectomy because their menstruation becomes so heavy their lifestyles are affected. For some of these women the problem of heavy menstruation may be overcome with appropriate hormone balance. During these peri-menopause years many women are offered antidepressants for the irritability and anxiety that they are experiencing. Again, these symptoms can often be corrected with proper hormone balance.

The most common and noticeable hormone change is menopause. Women will go through natural menopause which generally occurs in the early 50Õs or they may have surgical menopause as the result of a hysterectomy with the removal of both ovaries. The symptoms can vary in intensity and severity and may include a combination of hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, tearfulness, depression, irritability, anxiety, decreased libido, vaginal dryness, fatigue, memory loss or memory fog, muscle aches/stiffness and weight gain around the middle. Menopause is defined as the cessation of menstrual cycles for 1 year with a corresponding hormone decline.

Men may experience andropause which may be similar to menopause in women. For men the symptoms seem to occur more gradually and the severity is not as intense. Men may notice less energy, loss of muscle mass and strength, muscle aches/stiffness, weight gain around the middle, decreased libido with erectile dysfunction, memory changes, depression, sleep disturbances, anxiety, irritability, decreased beard growth and/or body hair.

Natural aging versus supplementation

For many people, they will experience gradual hormonal changes and they embrace the process as a normal part of aging. For other people the hormonal changes they experience are dramatic and life altering to the point that their quality of life is significantly altered. Both men and women are living longer, are more active, and may continue to work well into their 60Õs and 70Õs in competitive markets with younger generations. For many, the symptoms of peri-menopause, menopause or andropause are unacceptable and actually may be directly or indirectly affecting their work performance which drives them to seek treatment. Other people are simply unwilling to slow down and they too will seek treatment due to what they perceive as poor quality of life. Ultimately there are many reasons people look at treatment options for hormones and it is a very personal choice which must be approached with thoughtful consideration and thorough education.

Natural Bio-Identical Replacement (BHRT) or Synthetic Hormone Replacement (HRT)?

Bio-identical hormones are natural products derived from a plant source and have been used for many decades in both Europe and the United States. These hormones are a molecular match to what we produce (or used to produce) in our bodyÕs. For this reason it is believed that they may be a safer alternative than synthetic hormones which do not match our bodies receptor sites. Synthetic hormones are artificial chemicals manufactured in labs and distributed by large pharmaceutical companies. Bio-identical hormones can not be considered 100% safe just because they are natural. One must assume that bio-identical hormones have risks similar to any other hormone replacement simply because long term research is not yet complete on the safety and efficacy of bio-identical hormones. Currently, there are several large research studies underway in the United States with published results expected in the next few years. What has been seen clinically in both men and women using bio-identical hormones is that they have experienced significant reduction in symptoms and improved quality of life. Choosing bio-identical hormones over the use of manufactured synthetic hormones is a personal choice and should only be pursued after personal research. While hormone replacement is generally considered safe for most people, individuals who have had reproductive cancers usually are not candidates for treatment. When choosing any form of hormone replacement it is important to take the lowest dose possible to give symptom relief which is the primary goal of this practice.

Metabolism and weight management

There are many treatment options available today for weight management as it has quickly become a multi-billion dollar industry. People will pay just about anything to lose a pound and the options range from expensive pills to costly surgery. Unfortunately, even with expensive surgeries many people are often unsuccessful with weight loss because the core metabolic problems are undetected and left untreated. While good nutrition and physical activity are the two most important components to weight loss success, metabolic disorders need to be identified and treated. When looking for metabolic disorders the important factors to consider are hormone balance, stress, sleep patterns, and energy levels as these all affect the metabolism.

Results

While the benefits of hormonal balance are many it is still a treatment option to carefully consider. Most people will experience increased vitality and energy. Vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats are reduced or eliminated. Quality of sleep improves resulting in more energy throughout the day. As the energy improves most people will have an improvement in libido and their metabolism seems to improve as well. Symptoms of irritability, anxiety and depression seem to lift when hormones are balanced being replaced by a feeling a well-being which many think they may never experience again.