Aging in Broward is difficult enough for women without having to deal with declining hormones. Women in Broward often complain of a diminished sense of well being, chronic fatigue, and a loss of libido just to mention a few symptoms of hormone imbalance.
For many women there is a tremendous void in treatment of menopausal symptoms. Hot flashes, mood swings and low or no sex drive are just the tip of the iceberg. Some earlier hormone imbalance symptoms of estrogen deficiency are frequent waking at night. Many others are present, including “mental fogginess.” A woman’s short-term memory retention may be dwindling and her concentration and focus isn’t as good as it used to be. Frequently, women may experience some loss of energy to the point that they actually slide into symptoms of chronic fatigue. In addition, women may experience some mood swings and irritability, and at the extreme may actually develop feelings of depression. With the loss of energy and chronic fatigue, females find themselves unable to exercise as much as in the past, or to recover as quickly when exercising. Women often find themselves increasing weight gain in spite of attempts at exercising. One hormone imbalance symptom that is not frequently discussed is the loss of sex drive and diminished libido. Not only is energy level and sense of well being diminished, but anticipation and enjoyment of sexual activity is waning as well.
It might be tempting to get a quick fix for hot flashes, but consider a different perimenopause treatment besides hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT may be inexpensive and easy, but its long-term risks outweigh the benefits - not to mention that it will likely further aggravate the symptoms of menopause! This outcome occurs because HRT causes estrogen dominance, a condition where there is far more estrogen than progesterone in the body. On the other hand, products that are natural for menopause-related symptoms will provide relief from your symptoms without causing estrogen dominance.
How is estrogen dominance related to traditional perimenopause treatments?
Estrogen dominance was a term coined by Dr. John Lee, the first doctor who published shocking findings on the dangers of HRT. His research was premised on the fact that a woman can experience serious health problems if she has normal or excessive estrogen, but little or no progesterone to balance out estrogen's effects on the body. Progesterone inhibits estrogen's effects on the body, e.g. when estrogen increases fat accumulation and weight gain, progesterone burns fat for energy. For these reasons, Dr. Lee suggested that giving progesterone supplements would benefit menopausal women more than estrogen-only HRT. However, his work was shunned by the medical community despite mounting evidence against HRT and the damage it causes. It's easy to see why - when Dr. Lee's research first came out in the 1980s, everyone was still caught up in the hype of estrogen HRT pushed by pharmaceutical companies.
Despite what you might be led to believe, HRT promotes unopposed estrogen. Women these days are very susceptible to becoming estrogen dominant, even when they are menopausal. The beauty products and cosmetics we use are laden with xenoestrogenic preservatives - manmade chemicals that behave like estrogen when they enter the body. Cows and chickens are also fed estrogen so they can grow and fatten up faster. On the other hand, we aren't exposed to the same levels of progesterone. Taking HRT will only skew the balance of estrogen and progesterone, causing estrogen dominance and increasing the risks of various health problems.
Risks of estrogen dominance caused by medications for perimenopause
Below are just some of the risks faced by menopausal women when they take HRT.
Increased menopause symptoms
While restoring your estrogen levels might reduce hot flashes initially, it may also cause increased weight gain, poor sleep patterns, headache, anxiety, and depression if left unopposed.
Fibrocystic breasts and breast cancer
Researchers from Harvard University discovered that the longer your exposure to estrogens, the greater your risk of fibrocystic breasts (breast cysts) and breast cancer. In their Nurses' Health Study, a study that tracked the health of 70,000 women for almost 20 years, they discovered that menopausal women who used estrogen had a 30% increased risk for breast cancer than women who didn't take HRT. The risk for breast cancer was 40% more among women who took estrogen and progestin (a manmade progesterone). Those who were taking HRT for over five years had an elevated risk that increased with their age. The Nurses' Health Study supports early evidence that HRT plays a significant role in the onset of breast cancer, even if progestin is added to balance out the estrogen.
Studies show that an increased risk of blood clots among menopausal women is triggered by two things: cigarette smoking and the use of synthetic estrogens.
Gallstones and liver problems
If you have a liver disorder, then you should definitely avoid HRT; estrogen affects the function of the liver enzymes. Research shows that women taking HRT have twice the risk of developing gallstones that require surgical removal.
Four to eight out of every one thousand menopausal women will develop uterine cancer because of HRT. Although the risk of uterine cancer is decreased when progestin is added, research shows that progestin will place you at risk for breast cancer. Other risk factors like cigarette smoking, a family history of uterine cancer, and abnormal uterine bleeding will also increase the likelihood of HRT-related uterine cancer despite the presence of progestin.
Unlike the symptoms of menopause, which are temporary, the side effects of HRT may last a lifetime. Avoid these risks and consider making lifestyle changes or using natural progesterone or phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) for perimenopause and menopause relief.
Marijuana attacks your precious testosterone in almost every negative way possible. One study after another has shown that cannabis lowers testosterone. For example one research team found that "a reanalysis of existing data established that testosterone levels are depressed both after smoking one marijuana cigarette and after intravenous infusion of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, a pharmacologically active component of marijuana". The same study concluded that it would take at least 24 hours for testosterone levels to normalize after marijuana use. (NOTE: It's not just the smoke - an IV will do it.)
Another study found that not only was testosterone decreased after short term marijuana use, but leutenizing and follicle stimulating hormone were lowered as well. And just to add to the endocrinological misery, the arch-villain and stress hormone cortisol was raised as well. There are also studies in animals and humans that strongly indicate that marijuana blunts growth hormone response as well. And so it is no wonder that animal studies show that marijuana use shrinks the testes. So, if you're not happy with lowered testosterone, infertility and elevated cortisol, you can sit around enjoying the fact that you've got a little more air flow through your boxers.
You should also know that there are many reports that chronic marijuana use leads to gynecomastia, i.e. "enlarged male breasts", due to its abundant amounts of phytoestrogens. One journal writer pointed out that "given the effects of marijuana on the HPG axis in males and the possibility that noncannabinoid components of marijuana smoke have affinity to the estrogen receptor, an association with gynecomastia is plausible but has not been convincingly demonstrated". Remember that estrogen fights against testeosterone in the body as well.
Marijuana has also recently been flagged as particularly dangerous for young people because it decreases seratonin and increases norepineprine. While these are not sex hormones like testosterone, these can alter mood negatively and, through prolonged use, may permanently alter anxiety levels and reaction to stress. Again, the researchers are suggesting this may have long term, possibly lifetime anxiety and mood repercussions. I would also add that any increase in stress will also likely lower testosterone as well.
So we ask the question, "Could someone please explain again why anyone in their right mind would smoke marijuana?" The only thing we can think of is the extra hydrogen cyanide. That's right - marijuana tobaco is much higher in hydrogen cyanide - probably five times higher - than cigarette tobacco. Maybe that partially explains why habitual pot smoking is so hard on the lungs and why cannabis use has also now been linked to the most aggressive form of testicular cancer.
Not to make the bad news even worse, but there is also considerable reported evidence of erectile dysfunction among chronic marijuana users. This is undoubtedly partially due to the lowered testosterone. However, the other reason was discovered by one study that showed marijauna effected Nitric Oxide and summarized by saying, "We conclude that early endothelial damage may be induced by chronic cannabis use (and endocannabinoid system activation". Let me translate that: it may take your sex life with it. If so, decreased sexual activity is also associated with lowered testosterone levels as well.
The tragedy with marijuana is that many cultures and youth are embracing marijuana as more "natural", but this is far from being the case. One recent study found that marijuana induces just as much cell toxicity and DNA damage as cigarette smoke. The researchers were very clear that marijuana displayed just as much cancer causing power as the cigarette smoke: "In addition, when corrected for total particulate matter yield, little difference was observed in the mutagenic activity of samples smoked under the extreme vs the standard regime for both tobacco and marijuana condensates".
In summary, there is significant evidence that marijuana lowers testosterone, nitric oxide, leutinizing hormone, growth hormone and raises cortisol at the same time. Hormonally, there is no justifiable reason for cannabis use.