If you’ve been reading this Blog, then you know that I’ve been trying to take a natural, botanical approach to managing menopausal symptoms. For a while, I felt great. I was even smug about having found the perfect cocktail of herbs, grains, fish oil and vitamins while other, less fortunate women had to resort to hormone replacement. But the flash-free days and restful nights didn’t last long and I’m back to square one. I’m sleep deprived and just plain tired of feeling crappy. Not to mention this tire I’m carrying around my middle. I’m throwing in the towel.
Enter bio-identical hormones . Vivelle-Dot is a small, clear patch that delivers a low dose of Estradiol through my skin. I also use a Progesterone cream that was compounded for me at Pharmaca , here in San Francisco. It’s only been a few days but I think I feel better already. Is that possible? Maybe it’s the placebo effect. Either way, I got my first decent night sleep in a long time and my husband thinks I look younger.
I have to admit that I’m still nervous about taking anything that has the word HORMONE in it. But I asked Dr. Marsha Nunley , a physician at Optimum Health in San Francisco, to help me understand why taking Estradiol is safer than conjugated hormones, like Premarin. Here’s how she explained it to me:
All hormones are not created equal. Each hormone has a unique chemical structure that the body recognizes and processes in a way that is appropriate for that hormone. Bio-identical means that the chemical structure is the same as the one that your body makes. These are usually made from plant sources.
The Vivelle Dot patch is a bio-identical form of estradiol in a delivery system that can be marketed as a trade name drug. Because the topical forms of hormones are absorbed through the skin and directly enter the bloodstream, the dose needed is much lower and the metabolism much more closely mimics what naturally occurs in the body. Theoretically it will deliver a static dose of estrogen through the skin over a given time period.
Compare this to oral, conjugated estrogens like Premarin and Provera, (used in the WHI study) that must be processed by the liver and then metabolized down the appropriate biochemical pathway. Our natural hormones in the body are secreted directly into the bloodstream and never go through this “first pass” metabolism via the liver.
So, I’m giving bio-identical hormones a try and hoping for the best – in the long-term of course. I’d love to hear from others who are also using the Vivelle-Dot plus Progesterone cream. Have you experienced any side-effects? Are you glad you went this route?