Thursday, May 3, 2012

Reducing the Signs of Aging with Estrogen

By: Marina Johnson, M.D., F.A.C.E

As women age, they start noticing the telltale signs: fine wrinkles and dry, sagging skin.

Risks of Not Having Enough Estrogen

Women are denied estrogen because of an increased risk of breast cancer. Yet, they’re not informed there are more risks from NOT taking estrogen! Heart disease and strokes kill more women each year (400,000) than the next sixteen causes of death including diabetes, all forms of cancer, aids and accidents!

Estrogen decreases Alzheimer’s and dementia by 50% and osteoporosis by 40%. I wrote my book, “Outliving Your Ovaries: An Endocrinologist Reviews the Risks and Rewards of Treating Menopause with Hormone Replacement Therapy,” to give women a guidebook for evaluating and selecting the safest forms of estrogen. Estrogen has over 400 actions on tissues throughout the body and when it’s deficient, adverse consequences occur. While hot flashes can be bothersome, the most serious problems occur when vital tissues literally start falling apart!

Changes in Skin

Let’s start with the most obvious changes: skin, hair and weight gain! I can look at a menopausal woman in her 50s or 60s and tell you if she’s taking estrogen. Many menopausal women resort to cosmetic surgery, Botox and fillers to look younger. It makes more sense to first restore normal estrogen balance. By increasing collagen, estrogen enhances the results of any procedures you choose to do. Healthy skin is also supported by having regular monthly facials, avoiding excessive sun & tanning booths and taking at least 1000 iu of Vitamin D3. Higher doses should be monitored by your physician.

Changes in Hair

Without estrogen, women develop thinning hair even in women who used to have a lot of hair. In menopause, a woman’s ovaries often continue to product testosterone. Even small amounts of testosterone without estrogen leads to loss of scalp hair and growth of facial hair. That’s why you often see older women with whiskers!

Estrogen Delays Middle Age

Estrogen delays the middle age spread by combating insulin resistance. Avoid ORAL estrogen that can worsen weight gain in many women! Instead, choose natural, bioidentical pharmaceutical topical estrogen that can be found in any drug store in the form of patches, gels, creams or mists. Compounded bioidentical hormones do NOT meet the same strict manufacturing standards for quality control and effectiveness.

Within Six Months of Losing Estrogen

Within six months of losing estrogen, many women notice vaginal dryness and painful sex leading to a decreased sex drive. No matter how much you love your partner, when your brain receives pain signals with sex, it turns off libido! Incontinence of urine, urgency and frequent bladder infections occur more often in postmenopausal women who don’t take estrogen.

That’s why it’s common to see older women on no HRT who have to use Depends! The good news is that both problems often resolve with a course of vaginal estrogen. Don’t cheat yourself by waiting too long. The most protection comes from starting estrogen within 10 years of menopause.

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Marina Johnson, M.D., F.A.C.E., a UCLA-USC trained physician has no ties to any pharmaceutical company. She is the author of “Outliving Your Ovaries: An Endocrinologist Reviews the Risks and Rewards of Treating Menopause With Hormone Replacement Therapy.” She’s the medical director of the Institute of Endocrinology and Preventive Medicine in Dallas, Texas. In 2011, she spoke at the Cleveland HeartLab symposium at the Cleveland Clinic. She’s appeared on Joni’s Table Talk on Daystar Television Network, The Balancing Act on Lifetime Television, Daybreak USA radio show and written articles for numerous magazines.

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