Can Natural Hormones Improve Your Health?

If you are premenopausal or menopausal, you know these transitions can be challenging—but they don’t have to be.

During the menopausal years, the production of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and thyroid needed to maintain a youthful vitality rapidly begins to decline. Symptoms include depression, irritability, short-term memory loss, hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, low libido, fatigue and weight gain. How happy, energetic and sexy can you feel with these symptoms? Not very!

Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is all about returning what time and nature take away. Hormones can not only make you feel better, give you more energy and help you sleep, but they have been shown to support heart and bone health and decrease cancer risk.

Testosterone, for example, is produced by a woman’s ovaries, adrenal glands and fat cells and plays an important role in women’s health. Low testosterone in women can have a negative impact on libido, moods, sense of well-being, bone and muscle mass and cardiovascular health.

Hormones Are Good for Me?

Myths and misinformation about synthetic nonbioidentical hormones and natural bioidentical hormones cause confusion about the importance of hormone therapy. The truth is, bioidentical hormones have the same exact structure as the hormones produced naturally by the body. Literature demonstrating harmful effects of hormones concern nonbioidentical hormones. It is important to know that using bioidentical progesterone actually decreases the risk of breast cancer.

The Women’s Health Initiative of 2002 is an oft-cited study, which I was involved in while teaching at the University of Minnesota Medical School. For many reasons (excluding women with hot flashes, including women to age 80, including smokers), the study design has been shown to be flawed. Additionally, the study only included synthetic, unnatural hormones Premarin and Provera, which increased breast cancer risk. Seven cases of nonfatal breast cancer out of 10,000 women in the study were reported.

A study published in the Journal of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment showed that 80,000 women using various forms of Hormonal Replacement Therapy (HRT) consisting of bioidentical progesterone and estrogen experienced significantly reduced rates of breast cancer.

Bioidentical natural hormones contain both estriol and estradiol. According to the International Journal of Cancer, estriol did not increase breast cancer compared to women who never used HRT. Using creams applied to the skin also confers fewer health risks than oral preparations.

Bioidentical hormones have also been shown to support heart health. A Journal of the American Medical Association article showed the bioidentical hormone progesterone increases good cholesterol (HDL). Estriol can decrease high blood pressure, total cholesterol and triglycerides, but increase HDL. Estriol enhances sexual and urinary health and promotes youthful skin.

A British Medical Journal study showed after 10 years, women receiving HRT early after menopause had significantly reduced risk of mortality, heart failure and heart attacks, without any apparent risk of cancer, venous thromboembolism (clots) or strokes.

Recent Mayo Clinic research of over 52,000 women found that neither estrogen alone, nor estrogen combined with progesterone affected a woman’s risk of dying from any cause, or specifically from a heart attack, stroke or cancer.

Is HRT Right for Me?

Tests are available to determine your estrogen-related cancer risk. Testing for thyroid function, cortisol, neurotransmitters and vitamin D provides important information that can be used to balance hormones. Consult your physician for details about personal risks or benefits of hormonal replacement therapy.

Meanwhile, decrease your inflammation, relieve stress, remove toxins and stop eating sugar. Continue to eat cruciferous vegetables and fresh fish, drink green tea and dance the night away to promote bone and cardiovascular health.

Dr. Sharon Norling practices Advanced Functional Medicine in Westlake Village. Call 818.707.9355 or visit