Category Archives: Hormone Replacement Therapy

This collection of posts discuss Hormone Replacement Therapy.

Seeking balance in the new year(again!)

Let me first wish you all a happy new year. I don’t know about all of you, but New Year’s Day is truly one of my favorite days of the ‘holiday season’. Although I love the festivities, the decorations, the gatherings of family and friends, playing Secret Santa at work, the yummy holiday treats and special beverages, the magic of the season, the reflection of why we celebrate these sacred and traditional holidays, watching classic Christmas movies, singing Christmas carols, giving and getting presents, catching up with old and new friends, and ringing in the new year(this year we made it til midnight!!), I love waking up on January 1st and reflecting back on the previous year and thinking forward to the year at hand.

This is a particularly clear and gorgeous day 1 of 2013 in Oregon: the sun is shining brightly, the air is crisp and cold and there is a peaceful sense of silence outside, as most of us have the day off from work, from school, from our daily routines and the pace has slowed permitting more time for reflection.  So often we get caught up in the ‘busy-ness’ of our lives and we don’t take the time to pause and plan for more balanced living.

A pausable moment: essential to maintain balance

A pausable moment: essential to maintain balance

What does it mean to have balance anyway? According to dictionary.reference.com , the type of balance I am referring to is defined as “mental steadiness or emotional stability, habit of calm behavior, judgement, etc”…also defined as “a state of equilibrium or equipoise”.  We at Menopausibilities often talk about hormone balance and how important it is to have one’s hormones tested, in order to take an objective look at our hormones within, so that we can work towards balancing these remarkable chemicals in our bodies. Achieving hormonal equilibrium helps us to feel balanced from the inside out and greatly improves the quality of our lives.

It's all about balance...

It’s all about balance…

But there are so many other aspects that we need to consider to keep us from falling back into imbalance or disequilibrium. It is important to take a critical look at the things we eat and drink every day, our exercise habits, the ways in which we balance our stress, supplements to consider to enhance our health, maintaining healthy relationships, our spiritual, emotional and intellectual well being…..it really does take a ‘village approach’ to achieve and maintain a balanced life.

Back in early October, I challenged our readers to join me on  a ‘consciousness cleanse’. Many of you did and we all reaped similar benefits from this 10 day mini-program: renewed energy, better sleep, clearer thinking, loss of belly fat and even a few pounds, and a renewed awareness of how important it is to be conscious of what we put into our mouths. I am inviting you all to join me again in January  as we support one another in making small but important changes towards achieving balance in our daily lives.  This is a perfect time of year to take this on: the festivities are over, many of us have overindulged and are making resolutions for the new year, and we have a renewed sense of optimism that we can succeed. 

A quick refresher about the guidelines: I will be eliminating caffeine, white sugar, alcohol and ‘the whites’: white flour, sugar, pasta, potatoes and rice. I plan to start on Monday, January 7th and will end on the evening of Wednesday, January 16th. Please go back to the post that I wrote on October 14th for more specifics, as I know many people have strong reactions to the no-caffeine portion, but don’t worry: this can be done slowly to avoid those terrible caffeine withdrawal headaches.

In conjunction with this January cleanse, I have some additional goals during this 10 day period. I always find my house to feel extra-cluttered after the holidays, particularly with some of the new possessions that have magically appeared, coupled with the tendency to be more house-bound, due to the colder weather and shorter days(and I know that my ability to feel a sense of balance is greatly impacted if my home feels cluttered).  So I plan to tackle my closets and cupboards, perhaps even my garage if I get an extra burst of energy, so I will be ‘cleansing’ out my home environment as well: a winter cleaning if you will. Then I will take all of these superfluous items and bring them to the appropriate agencies so that others might benefit from their use.

One more thing that you should know. We will be posting daily updates on how we are feeling through the cleanse . You can follow us through our blog and by becoming a friend of the Pearl Women’s Center facebook page. They will be offering several small ‘prizes’ for those of you who complete the 10 day cleanse but you must be signed up in order to be eligible to win. And we would love to hear from you about how YOU are doing : you can do it both on the blog(you will need to sign up as a follower first) and/or on the facebook page. It will be fun to see how many of you join us this time and how making these 4 small changes impact your lives.

As we look back at our blog over the past 15 months,  we are excited to see that we have touched many of your lives with some of our blog posts. We received an update from wordpress(our blog server) and we have had 6,546 views since we first launched our blog. A big thank you to all of our readers! Wow!! We are looking forward to a renewed commitment to our blog and will be rolling out some new features in the upcoming weeks. I am also due to post my list of favorite books so watch for that as well.  We love touching your lives and as always, would love to hear from you if you have any particular topics you would like us to discuss.

Wishing you a safe, healthy, joyful and balanced new year.

Another way to find balance: laughing with a dear friend

Another way to find balance: laughing with a dear friend

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Filed under Essentials, Hormone Imbalance, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

Day 5 of our ‘consciousness cleanse’: almost halfway there!

Checking in with all of you who have joined us on this 10 day mini-journey towards optimal eating and drinking: how is it going so far? I am sure it has had some challenges along the way, as breaking old habits can be really hard. I love to sit down with a lovely full-bodied glass of red wine after a long day at work so during these last few days, I learned to shift and focus instead on the incredible variety of teas I could brew up and savor.
For others, I have heard that cutting out sugar was the most difficult and required some pretty strong ‘won’t power’. Caffeine for some was the most challenging so perhaps not something to be eliminated this time…or maybe this is a time to simply cut down on the daily dose. Remember, this cleanse is for you and you need to make it work for your life and routine.
All in all, I have loved how I have felt each day: I have noticed that my sleep has been deep, restful and free of night sweats. Although I have been on BHRT for almost 12 years and usually symptom-free, after several glasses of wine in the evening, I often toss and turn and wake up throughout the night with mild night sweats(alcohol consumption is definitely linked to increased hot flashes and night sweats, so that is something you should be aware of). I have awakened each morning with an abundance of energy and mental clarity and I have found that I am not getting drowsy soon after lunch. You may remember that I am one of those ‘nuts’ who awaken at 4:30 weekdays so that I can get my workout in before heading off to work. Often a post- lunch siesta sounds very tempting. These past few days I have not felt the urge to crawl up into a little ball and catch a few zzzz’s after lunch so that has been a noticeable change for me.

I have also enjoyed the renewed focus on the foods I have been buying and preparing for my meals. On day one, I made a spicy and hearty pumpkin soup as well as a loaf of whole grain bread, served alongside a fresh green salad. I was inspired to make pumpkin soup in the spirit of Halloween and also because I know how many health benefits pumpkin has:  it is low in fat and calories , high in fiber(important to lower blood glucose and cholesterol, as well as important for smooth digestion), high in carotenes(anti-oxidants), which are crucial for our vision and our skin, plus it has critical nutrients such as vitamins C and E, and the minerals magnesium , potassium and iron. Often we add health-promoting spices to pumpkin recipes such as cinnamon , curry and cumin, which will further enhance pumpkin’s benefits.

Day one: Sunday dinner: yummy nutrient-full pumpkin soup and hearty organic whole grain bread plus green salad

The bread recipe came from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook. It was so simple that it inspired me to make bread, something I did all the time years ago. It took me less than 3 minutes to toss the ingredients together. Next I let the dough rise for 2 hours, added some cooked millet, formed the loaf, let it rise again and cooked it for 40 minutes. There is nothing like a the fragrance and taste of a freshly baked loaf of whole grain bread to complete the meal…and it cost less than a dollar to make. In addition,  I was confident that the ingredients were organic as well as rich in nutrients.

As I have shared with you before, women come to me with a litany of complaints, frustrations and symptoms that are related to hormonal imbalance.  After testing has been reviewed and I have created a comprehensive ‘personal balance plan’, I always remind them that lifestyle changes are also a critical component in achieving and maintaining hormonal and health balance. That is why taking the time to pay attention to how you nourish your body each day is so pivotal to your overall health. The effects are longlasting and far-reaching. As my friend Molly said to me, we are on the 90 year plan so we have to realize that what we put into our body today has an incredible effect on our longevity as well as the quality of our life.

Hormonal balance depends on the entire package: testing, treating with appropriate hormones and supplements, eating nutritiously, regular exercise, stress management, maintaining nourishing relationships, pursuing the things that you love, spiritual practice  and the support of your personal village. 

I am looking forward to your comments on how you are doing. Let me know if you would like me to share the recipes I used for pumpkin soup and whole grain bread and I will post them on the blog.

Congratulations for making it this far and for keeping me company. Thank you.

A moment of balance , halfway up Saddle Mountain in the Oregon Coastal Range

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Filed under Bioidentical Hormones, Essentials, Hormone Imbalance, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Menopause Symptoms, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

Insist on Bioidenticals: BHRT is the new HRT

It never ends I said to no one in particular.  And then loud enough to raise a few eyebrows: when will these people get it right!! I was referring of course to the crazy- making misinformation on hormones that crops up way too often in the popular press. I had been in the doctors office that day, riffling through  the Health and Science section of a month old Time Magazine when my eye landed  on a handy dandy chart divided into OLD SCIENCE – NEW SCIENCE. The OLD column was in a muddy green hue and the NEW in eco-green.

Under OLD Science on Hormone Replacement it was written: Estrogen and progestin protected post-menopausal women from heart disease.

Under NEW Science it was written: Hormones do not protect the heart and can increase the risk of breast cancer. 

Excuse me? They got the first part right, but to then say that “hormones do not protect….” sounds like they are saying ALL hormones do not protect and ALL hormones are bad for us when nothing could be further from the truth.  Endogenous hormones, the real ones that our bodies produce naturally, certainly do protect the heart and the breasts (not to mention all the other reproductive organs in the body, including blood vessels, bones, brain, etc.), that’s what they are there for! And the next best thing to the real thing? A bioidentical hormone, derived from plant substances made to mimic mother nature.   Yet the presumably up-to-date editors of Time’s Health and Science section (no less) chose not to make mention of  bioidentical hormones. They chose not to mention what is  widely recognized by scientists and experts alike that Bioidentical Hormone Restoration Therapy” or BHRT is the new HRT.

One size no longer fits all
when it comes to women’s hormonal health

And in the year 2012, a full decade since the bad news about Prempro hit the headlines, there was no mention of the millions of American women who are switching over to BHRT  because it works – without putting us at risk for strokes, heart disease and breast cancer. We women are on to the NEW science of bioidenticals, learning how hormones work in our bodies, reading the studies, listening to the experts, partnering with providers and experiencing the relief.  We have seen the future of women’s hormonal health and we’re not going back!

My little hormonal rant puts me in mind of a recent “Dr. Oz Says”  that I have to share with you here: “Hormones are better now. The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) monitored women taking high doses of Prempro, a synthetic mix of horse derived estrogens and progestin ….. This combo is still prescribed today, but you should insist on today’s much safer types of  hormone therapy: bioidentical estrogen, and especially, progesterone. They can lower your breast cancer risk and protect your heart. Yes, we’re going against the establishment but you deserve the right data, not the BS (bad science) from those who seem not to care what the WHI and other studies said. Today’s hormone therapy is safer – so safe in fact that it is the intelligent option for women.”

Oz says it all, and he says it all right. Mixed in with the mixed messages on hormonal health there are those who are doing the work, witnessing its benefit, and unafraid to speak truth to power. In the paradigm shift from synthetic to authentic hormones the science is growing and it is on our side.

Balance is achievable.

You can gather that evidence for yourself by checking out the scientific resource sections at Women in Balance www.womeninbalance.org or The Seventh Woman Foundation www.theseventhwoman.org. Meanwhile join in the discussion and comment right here on the blog to let us know how you have experienced the benefit of  BHRT and natural hormone balance.

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Filed under Candace Burch, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Women's Health & Happiness

Jane Fonda: TED talk on “The Third Act”

Greetings from the road(again!)

I am currently traveling with family along the east coast which has been a blast, filled with daytime activities(tour of Boston, playing tennis, long walks through New England towns) and late night talks. Last night I had the fortune to see ‘the Boss’, none other than Bruce Springsteen himself, excite and entertain the crowd of multi-generational music fans …backed by the ‘Green Monster’ at Fenway Park. We danced and sang and laughed….hard to believe I started listening to him in my early 20’s and here I am on the eve of turning 60. Wow, is all I can say about that.

Fortunately I am blessed with a healthy body and plenty of energy to face MY third act. Much of that I attribute to paying attention to what I eat, staying physically active, keeping my hormones balanced( I have been on BHRT for 12 years myself, which has been an essential factor in the quality of my life), a strong network of family and friends, as well as doing work that I am passionate about. However, like many women(and men!) who are in the ‘midlife’, I am starting to think about how I will live and contribute during the next phase or phases of my life.  Several months ago, a friend of mine shared this video on TED with me by Jane Fonda and I am moved to share it with all of you. It is a powerful reflection on what all of us are facing as we think about the road ahead.

How many of us grew up watching Jane in her infamous striped leg warmers, encouraging us to ‘feel the burn’? Now she is encouraging us to dip deep and think about what we want this next phase of our lives to look like: not to just go through the motions, but to realize we have a lot of valuable things to contribute and to experience. In this talk, she challenges each of us to live energetically and consciously. I hope you find as much inspiration as I did in listening to her.

Please share your thoughts with us in our comment section as we love to hear from you.

Wishing you balance in your life.

Kyle

 

 

 

 

Jane Fonda takes us through her views on the next and potentially wonderful phase of life

2 Comments

by | August 15, 2012 · 12:41 pm

How the WHI turned things on its head and we have come a long way baby!! Happy 2012

It is hard to believe that 10 years ago this July, the first reports from the WHI(Women’s Health Initiative) first hit the press and caused a major upheaval in our country in terms of how we viewed hormone treatment for women.  Headlines appeared in all of the major newspapers, soundbites aired on TV and radio shows, all echoing the same information:  based on this study(despite conflicting evidence from dozens of studies prior to this one), it was felt that hormone replacement therapy was no longer something that should routinely be prescribed to postmenopausal women due to the increased risks of breast cancer and cardiovascular complications.

The release of this information was a veritable nightmare for clinicians like myself who have worked with women for years trying to find the safest and most effective treatment options to deal with the challenges of perimenopause and beyond. Suddenly everything we had trusted was brought into question and the reaction was loud, contentious and confusing. We were advised by our various medical organizations(such as NAMS:North American Menopause Society; ACOG: American College of OB/Gyn, AMA: American Medical Society, and so on) to get women off of HRT(hormone replacement therapy) and advise them of their risks.

I have been a Nurse Practitioner since 1988 and I can honestly say, this was a pivotal moment in my evolution as a clinician. I felt as though I was between a rock and a hard place. How do I honor the “wisdom of the powers that be” yet take excellent care of the women who trusted me to provide them with accurate, up-to-date health information and help them find relief for their innumerable symptoms of hormonal imbalance? This was not an easy task but in many ways, I am thankful for the stir caused by this study as it forced many clinicians like myself to take a hard look at the information coming to us from these large scale, big Pharma-financed studies. It was time for a seismic shift for me, that’s for sure.

I have always been more holistic in my approach towards health care than what I learned in my allopathic undergraduate and graduate programs.  I had long developed a mistrust from some of the “studies” and abstracts given to me by pharmaceutical reps and this new turn of events just confirmed for me the need for ME to sort through the information myself, to resist believing the latest “headline du jour”. And I was in a perfect position to change my approach to taking care of women approaching menopause.

Thankfully one of my patients at the time told me about a special that had aired on public television highlighting “Bio-identical Hormones”, something I had heard of but honestly, didn’t know much about. I sought out a local compounding pharmacist, Alison Johnston and asked her to teach me. Not only did she mentor me and turn me on to a whole new world of compounding, but she sponsored me to go to a conference put on by PCCA(Professional Compounding Corporation of America). This is where I learned about the value of saliva testing, met the wonderful folks of ZRT lab and from that point on , I knew I had found what I was looking for: a safe, non-invasive, accurate, comprehensive way to test actual hormone levels.

My next challenge was to learn to interpret these levels and then how to prescribe BHRT in PHYSIOLOGIC doses to help alleviate symptoms of hormone imbalance and provide the many benefits of hormone treatment(see our previous blog posts on this). I had no local providers to ask….I was completely on my own and sometimes it was a scary place. But I knew there was no turning back. I had the support of my local pharmacists and the providers and staff at ZRT lab. I continued to go to any conference I could find on the topic, I read countless books and articles and soon I was treating hundreds, then thousands of women.  Not just treating them but helping them regain balance, hope and quality of life. I will soon be sharing some of their testimonials with you all in future blogposts.

So that’s the story of how I became so passionate about saliva testing and BHRT. I see thousands of women every year and I get such joy out of partnering with my patients. So many of them are like some of the people who have commented on our blog: at their wit’s end. Help is just around the corner ladies. Stay tuned and we will continue to provide you with the information and optimism that you need to get on your own road back to balance.

Oh, and by the way, patience really is a virtue. After 10 years of arguing back and forth about whether hormones are safe for women, just this week a statement was issued by NAMS and supported by 15 major medical organizations that now states that hormone replacement therapy should be offered to women.  AMEN!!! Remember, we support the use of BHRT… but this is such a sweet victory for women and those who care for them. Here is the link to the article:

NAMS statement

One last thing in closing. Today is Candace’s birthday so wishing my dear friend and colleague a wonderful celebration of life and a toast to many decades of happiness and balanced living to come!

With love,

Kyle

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Filed under Bioidentical Hormones, Hormone Imbalance, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Menopause Symptoms, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

In defense of saliva hormone testing: the battle of spit vs. blood

Last week the talking head TV doctors were at it again,  spinning and disparaging the accuracy and validity of saliva hormone testing despite decades of use by health care providers around the world to detect and correct hormone imbalances.  This kind of noise gets louder every now and again, emanating mostly from well-paid spokesmen for big-Pharma contracted to uphold the status quo.

By that of course, I mean the continued use of synthetic HRT (albeit at lesser doses but nevertheless a far cry from the bioidenticals Dr. Oz and other forward thinking providers now favor and tell us to INSIST upon if we want to prevent breast cancer, heart disease, blood clots and stroke) AND blood testing. Naysayers would have you believe that blood is the ONLY way to measure hormones accurately in EVERY person on the planet, despite the fact that unlike standard blood tests, saliva measures bioavailable, active hormone levels that any savvy practitioner will tell you, more closely correlates with patient symptoms. Not to  mention that it accomplishes this task non-invasively, without the needles that can raise stress and skew results…indeed that is why saliva testing remains the gold standard for collection of cortisol stress hormones.

Thousands of reputable MDs, NDs, NPs, PAs, endocrinologists, (and I might add, a growing number of Ob-GYNS) etc., use saliva testing to quantify hormone levels as do scientists and researchers  in the field. The World Health Organization for one, has used salivary testing to run cross-cultural comparisons of hormone levels in women living in industrialized vs. third world countries.
As to why this issue rears its head from time to time, to be fair it has to be said that many traditional MDs are not yet familiar with  the ranges and measurements used in saliva testing which differ from the standard blood test. Hence they are not comfortable interpreting a saliva test result or its’ validity. But this is no excuse for being indifferent to evidence of benefit, or as someone once said, being down on what one is not up on.

Looking sideways at the benefits of saliva testing is a disservice to those who stand to benefit

To make a long story short, the saliva hormone test provides invaluable information millions of people are using to shed new light on a persistent problem, rebalance their hormones naturally, and improve their health, energy and longevity. As the former Director of Education at ZRT Laboratory, I saw its benefits in action and heard from clients every day who told of persistent symptoms relieved, weight lost at last, mojo restored, divorce postponed for good! By the time I moved on from ZRT into my own hormone consultancy we had tested nearly 2 million people – the numbers speak for themselves.

Have you had your hormones tested in saliva and experienced the benefits of easy collection, easy monitoring and information you were able to use to make a difference in the way you think, look and feel? If so, please chime in ….and comment on our blog in defense of saliva!

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Filed under Candace Burch, Hormone Imbalance, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Women's Health & Happiness

Live discussion on hormone balance, testing and treatment options

Last year I did a televised interview at our local radio station, KINK.fm. The moderator asked me questions about hormone imbalance, hormone testing and possible treatments. I have had quite a few patients comment on how helpful it was to hear this interview so I would like to share it with all of you. Just click on the link and then scroll down to my photo and hit the play button I hope you enjoy it and would love to answer any questions you might have. Let me know what you think!

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Filed under Bioidentical Hormones, Hormone Imbalance, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Menopause Symptoms, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance