Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Taking a Look at Bioidenticals Cuz I Had Nuthin'

Back on the 3rd of March I wrote a post wherein I lamented that I've Got Nuthin' to blog about and as a result, I received a very nice email from Lisa who is one of my NorwichBulletin.com readers. Lisa had a suggestion for me and wrote ...
"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?

EstradiolEstradiol image via Wikipedia

For 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?

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  1. the forgetfulness and struggle to concentrate is very stressful and you're right, it doesn't get discussed the way the more obvious symptoms do - like hot flashes.

    I have had a lot of luck with herbal remedies like soy and black cohosh root

    I always worry that what they say is fine today will not be tomorrow, they have changed their minds about HRT several times.

  2. I'm so way past this. What was the question? Bwahahahahaha.

    Have a terrific day Linda. Big hug. :)

  3. Anonymous11:37 AM EDT

    Wow - Great Job!

    Only thing you forgot to mention...to all those people on the prescribed synthetic drugs they are a derivative of horse urine. Why would anyone want to put that in their system?

    Keep Smiling,

  4. I think is the 8th time I heard Oprah's name and I'm not kidding! She's just everywhere. The TV, my Mom talked about it earlier, someone mentioned it in a movie, have read it somewhere and then from you! So it's not probably the 8th time but the point is she's everywhere LOL. But people learn from her. It's like whenever she says something, the whole world listens and follows.

    Thanks for blogging about this, I think I need to tell my Mom about it. But she's too stubborn. She's afraid of Doctors, I think! She's also having hot flashes and she frequently forgets things too!

    Now good luck with the hormonal replacement thing but are you really going to push through with that?

    Yay. Another informative blog from you.

  5. Thank you for your research and info about all this. I just thought it was the normal course of events in a woman's life. I've been in that place of forgetfulness and fogginess for years now (The hot flashes are slowly dissipating which is a relief). But I hate it when I can't remember my next thought (like now).

  6. i took hrt for eight years and it gave me breast cancer... don't know about this stuff, but my dr. told me hrt was GOOD for me. it wasn't.

    smiles, bee

  7. Thanking you and Lisa for mentioning this. I am exactly as you describe.. the great age of 46 has my whole life in a fog. I will be referring several people to this blog post. I so much appreciate this. I see the doctor tomorrow and I for one am throwing this one out there.

  8. While bioidenticals appear to be safe for the majority of women, they should consult their doctors particularly if they have a history of cysts of ovaries or breasts and the Possible increased risk of cancer.

  9. most GYNs are taking all their patients off of hormone replacement therapies. COMPLETELY. the risks far outweigh the benefits. just deal with the change of life and let it come..then go..naturally.

    by the way. how'd those tests go??

  10. by the way....that includes the "natural" sources like soy and such too. they produce the same effects and therefore have the same risks!!

  11. Anonymous4:00 PM EDT

    If you want to know from the source itself(Suzannes Doctor on Bioidenticals) with much more details.... go to


  12. Google brought me here as I try to find out more on bioidenticals -- glad to have found your blog. I read the article in O magazine and only recently watched clips from her show -- the article is more informative imo. Also, I found this article from the Women to Women clinic in Maine to be pretty helpful: Bioidentical hormones: Are they right for you? Dr. Northrup cofounded this place and the info seems to be very much in keeping with her tone and approach. Enjoy! I look forward to keeping up with your blog.

  13. The real value of bioidenticals has been proven in recent studies of the data from the Women's Health Initiative which was suddenly stopped becuase of adverse results from the use of progesterone in women.

    The data had been analysis badly and synthetic hormones were NOT split out in the analysis. Recent analysis of the data shows that it was thre synthetic hormones that were the cause of the adverse consequences of progesterone therapy. The bioidenticals had NONE of these negative consequences.

    Safe bioidenticals such as Pro-Feme are a pharmaceutical grade progesterone cream for women that have undergone clinical trials and are manufuactured to government regulated laws and requirements. Pro-Feme is only one of a wide array of safe, efficiatious and cost-effective bioidentical hormones available worldwide and women need to become aware of the opportunities they have to treat themselves with safe drugs that will NOT endanger them and their lives.


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