"Since Oprah had the segment on Bio-Identical and there is very little subject for this, in this area (CT)…and you're getting older it's something to research and ponder on."Not being an Oprah watcher I wasn't really quite sure what bioidenticals were even about but a quick search of the internet set me straight on the issue and left me wondering why all women weren't using bioidentical hormone replacement treatment when it came to the issue of perimenopause or even menopause itself?
Estradiol image via WikipediaFor those also not familiar with them, bioidenticals are exact duplicates of hormones produced by women primarily in the ovaries that contain estrogen, progesterone, estradiol, or other hormones. Many of these bioidentical hormones are commercially available in several well-tested, FDA-approved, brand-name prescription drugs and Oprah, as well as the actress Suzanne Somers, swear by them as having given them their lives back.
In February's edition of O, The Oprah Magazine, Oprah wrote that she felt "out of kilter" and had "issues" for two years that she suspected were hormonal. Upon a friend's recommendation, she went to a doctor who specializes in hormones. The hormone specialist told her that her "hormonal tank was empty" and gave her a prescription for bioidentical estrogen.
"After one day on bioidentical estrogen, I felt the veil lift," Winfrey writes. "After three days, the sky was bluer, my brain was no longer fuzzy, my memory was sharper. I was literally singing and had a skip in my step."Nothing for nothing but I'm pretty sure Oprah isn't the only woman who has reached a certain age out there who feels that a veil is covering her and is motoring around with her hormonal tank needing a fill-up. As a matter of fact, Lisa emailed me back the next day when I wrote her to thank her for the suggestion and told me -
"... this morning I woke up in a fog full of cobwebs…and couldn't focus on anything - thank God for my husband-who is one in a million. Then there is the forgetfulness… it's bad and you find yourself using sticky's for everything…then you get overwhelmed! This is not my nature, as usually I'm very focus to details, with everything in it's place - like a right brain personality or Type A."I know exactly what Lisa is talking about - exactly - except that I haven't been smart enough to get the sticky notes yet as I keep telling myself to but then I always forget! I've noticed that for the past six months or so, I find myself mentally grasping for words that were right there on the tip of my tongue just a moment ago, forgetting something that someone just said to me 30 seconds ago, and having big-time short term memory loss in other ways, too. Having a job where I have to think fast on my feet (or in my dispatch chair), multi-task like there's no tomorrow, and retain things people have told me it is becoming a real hindrance to have a brain that apparently has the characteristics of a sieve!
I can't begin to tell you how many times I have gotten up and gone into another room to get something and then stood there totally dumbfounded as to what it was I was going to do. I used to pride myself on being organized but that's gone right out the window with everything else and I'm even beginning to think there's a hormonal reason why I'm still sitting in a room with boxes all around me even though I've been in the new house for about a month and a half now. Oh, and one of the worst things is that this "brain fog" of mine has seeped into my fingers, too, as you wouldn't believe some of the things I've typed and then gone back to find later when I do proofreading. If I don't proofread something at least several times there's a good chance I may use a completely different word than I meant or worse. Trust me, this could get dangerous in the world of blogging!
At my last annual exam with my GYN, I mentioned that I was starting to have lots of problems remembering things and focusing and he told me that I was too young to be going through menopause and dismissed the issue but what he should have said was that I was more than old enough to be going through perimenopause - a transition period that precedes menopause. Women in their late 30’s, 40’s and early 50’s may transition in and out of a perimenopausal state many times before they finally enter menopause . This perimenopausal state can last from 5 to 15 years or longer and trust me, I am more than old enough to fit in this category!
The symptoms that I described to my doctor could definitely be part of the hormonal fluctuations that women go through and I would have thought that he would have known that rather than just pooh-poohing my concerns as nothing to be worried about. Along with the more obvious changes like hot flashes, sleep disruption, dry eyes, night sweats, and a host of other fun (not!) symptoms, many perimenopausal patients find they have short-term memory impairment or a lack of focus. Apparently these cognitive effects of hormonal imbalance are frequently overlooked in mainstream discussions about perimenopause so I guess I can forgive my GYN for not being up-to-date (and considering he's now retired from practice, I can't even give him hell when I next see him!) but still ... if Oprah's doctor could fix her, why can't mine fix me??
I know that the majority of the responsibility of dealing with these things lies with me in that my diet, lack of exercise, and somewhat stressful job certainly aren't helping things and definitely need to be addressed but if there is a form of hormone replacement treatment out there that can help me get my mind back (as well as a good night's sleep) without an increased risk for breast cancer, heart attack and stroke then I'd like to know more about it!
As always there is the usual controversy that's present when someone comes up with what's probably a better treatment than the one people have been using for years and years but from what I've read it appears that bioidenticals are helping a lot of women get their lives back and step out of the fog they've been in. A fog like the one that causes me to do things like call Amanda by her sister's name way more often then she'd like or not remember what medic number a crew has within 5 seconds of them giving it to me over the radio.
So, due to not having nuthin' on the 3rd of March and an email from a reader (thanks again, Lisa!) you can bet I'll be talking to my new GYN about bioidenticals and whether they might be something to consider ... provided I remember to write the question down and take it with me to my next appointment! I may not be Oprah but I deserve a shot at a clearer head too, right?