Estrogen in Women in Maryland, Virginia, & Washington, DC
Unfortunately, there is a great deal of misinformation concerning hormone replacement and estrogen metabolism for women in both the medical and internet world. Every day we hear from frustrated women who can’t seem to get consistent information from their primary doctors. Worse, they are reaching out to alternative sources for information claiming to be experts “Death of the Expert” . You are frustrated with inadequate and conflicting advice and treatment concerning estrogen. Dr. Gonzalez is at the cutting edge of the research in the evaluation and optimal hormone replacement treatment and he passes that knowledge down to you.
Estrogen is the feel-good hormone for women. When balanced with other critical hormones in your body it is not only a feel-good hormone, rather a ‘disease prevention stay-healthy-longer’ hormone.
A Brief History
Decades ago, women were told that replacing “estrogen” during menopause is healthy. And for decades, that’s what they did. Estrogen replacement reduced or eliminated unpleasant symptoms from menopause. Unfortunately, confusion began when the word “estrogen” was not truly defined. “Estrogen” is a general term that can represent everything from the multiple different natural estrogens found in both men and women to the synthetic estrogens manufactured or prescription purposes. This is a concept that can be confusing even in the medical literature.
In 2002 the results of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study in 2002 that cited adverse health effects from estrogen hormone replacement therapy. The response by healthcare practitioners and women was to stop estrogen therapy suddenly. This caused many women to quickly revert to the symptoms of menopause and worse, increase their risk for certain disease processes like heart disease and certain cancers. Estrogen has been one of the most controversial and misunderstood hormone ever since. Why? Two Reasons 1. The WHI was poorly constructed as a medical study which allowed for improper interpretation of the data and 2. There was absolute confusion over what was defined as “estrogen.”
Medical Residents including OB/Gyne residents were taught that “estrogen causes disease” based on the WHI study. Worse, attending and practicing physicians perpetuated this myth when educating patients.
The Facts about Estrogen in Women
- Synthetichormones, not bioidentical ones, were behind the negative outcomes women and doctors heard about following the WHI study. Certain combinations of synthetic hormones was even worse for long term women’s health. Adverse health effects caused by synthetic hormones include breast cancer, heart disease, and even stroke. The results from more recent studies speak to the safety and benefits of bioidentical estrogen (the estrogen naturally produced in your body) therapy, and to the weaknesses in the WHI study.
- When replacing hormones, it’s critically important to use bioidentical hormones. Bioidentical estrogen is identicalin structure to the estrogen produced by a woman’s body.
- Properly administered hormone therapy depends on balance and optimization. Effectiveness and safety involve more than just the right type and dose of estrogen. The balance of other hormones, such as progesterone, DHEA, and testosterone is also important.
- “Estrogen” is actually more than one hormone. It’s a class of multiple hormones, with three estrogens being most active: estrone, estradiol, and estriol depending on the age of the person.
- Estriol is the mildest of the three estrogens andcan actually help prevent breast cancer.
Benefits of Estrogen
Estrogen is the feel-good hormone for women. When balanced with other critical hormones in your body it is not only a feel-good hormone, rather a ‘disease prevention stay-healthy-longer’ hormone. Some of the many things estrogen does for your body:
- Decreases “bad cholesterol” (LDL), and increases “good cholesterol” (HDL).
- Protects your arteries by keeping them open and flexible.
- Lowersyour risk of heart attack.
- Reduces homocysteine levels in your blood.
- Protects your brain and your memory, and reduces the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
- Increases your ability to concentrate.
- Promotes the production of collagen, which helps your skin to maintain its elasticity and helps your skin retain moisture, minimizing wrinkles.
- Maintains the elasticity of your vaginal tissue.
- Prevents osteoporosis and keeps your teeth healthy.
- Increases your metabolism and reduces your appetite, which helps to prevent weight gain.
- Protects the health of your eyes.
- Prevents colon cancer.
- Protects your lungs from cancer.
- Keeps your voice strong and steady.
- Reduces insulin sensitivity, and makes your blood sugar more stable.
- Detoxifies the cells in your body.
- Estriol in combination with bioidentical progesterone protects against breast cancer AND ovarian cancer.
- Better Sex!
Estrogen can be found everywhere in your body. It keeps everything moving and growing and functioning optimally. Take away estrogen, and things don’t work as well—they decline. Replace estrogen, and everything functions better. Estrogen is key to healthy aging for women.
The Right Amount and the Right Kind
Atlantis Medical Wellness Center is lucky to have Dr. Benjamin Gonzalez as their medical director. He teaches other physicians and healthcare practitioners these specific and detailed tenants of hormone health. We know you need estrogen for healthy cell growth, you also want that growth to be curtailed when necessary. It’s a balance. We are about balance.
Specifically, it’s important to replace the right kinds of estrogen, in the right amounts, and estrogen has to be delivered the right way.
Estradiol And Estrone: The Growth Promoters
Estradiol is the strongest of the three estrogens. It sends a signal for growth that is loud and clear. Most healthcare practitioners prescribe 100% estradiol, if they prescribe estrogen at all.
Estrone is a little weaker than estradiol, but also sends out a pretty strong signal for growth. It’s also worth noting that estrone is produced by fat cells.
Combined, these two estrogens can promote a lot of cell growth. That’s good—but only to a point. If cell growth goes unchecked, cancer risk is increased.
Estriol: The Growth Stopper
This is where estriol comes in. Estriol is the weakest of the estrogens. It actually curtails cell growth by binding with the super-calming receptor site called ER Beta. So when estradiol and estrone get carried away, estriol steps in and settles things down.
BiEst –The Best of Both Worlds
For most women, BiEst (short for bi-estrogen) is safer and healthier than taking estradiol alone. Comprised of bioidentical estradiol and bioidentical estriol, BiEst promotes cell growth, but it does so at a healthy and safe rate.
How Method of Delivery Matters
Estrogen is taken via topical cream or oral pills depending on your age. Pellets and patches may not work optimally.
ER Alpha and ER Beta
Estrogen can bind to two different kinds of receptor sites: ER Alpha, and ER Beta. Receptor sites are like locks, and hormone molecules are like keys. When a hormone molecule attaches to the right kind of receptor, the hormone is activated. There is a link between these two receptor sites and breast health.
When estrogen binds to ER Alpha, growth is stimulated. When estrogen binds to ER Beta, growth is blocked. These receptor sites are found throughout a woman’s body, but they’re particularly prevalent in breasts.
Remember that you want healthy cell growth in your body to age well. And ER Alpha promotes that growth. But without ER Beta receptors, that growth could continue unchecked, which increases cancer risk.
Let’s apply this to what goes on in the breasts. When breasts are healthy, they have both kinds of receptors; but there will be more ER Beta receptors present than ER Alpha receptors.
ER Beta receptors step in to stop growth when necessary. They protect breasts by maintaining peace and calm. This means that estrogen, when it binds to ER Beta receptors, actually protects breasts.
So healthy breasts need to have lots of ER Beta receptors. There are a number of factors that will promote the presence of ER Beta receptors, but one of the more important ones is progesterone.
This is why we rarely prescribe estrogen without also prescribing bioidentical progesterone. This will be personalized to you and your lab and Metabolic Code Assessment results.
Treatment for Low Estrogen
Without estrogen, a woman’s health and quality of life will suffer. Through our Atlantis Women’s Wellness Programs, The Metabolic Code Assessment and Lab Reports we will help optimize who you are as a woman.
Look for Dr. Gonzalez’s book “Women’s Health: Your Guide Through the Current HealthCare System” soon to be published Fall 2019.