Ageless: The Naked Truth About Bioidentical Hormones
By Suzanne Somers
The first indication of aging is the loss of hormones. You don't see it at first. It's happening inside, lurking about, waiting for the reproductive passage of "who you are" to finish. It's almost as though the hormones have grown impatient, sitting inside, tapping their fingers, and waiting to complete their job so they can take time off for good. Once that happens, the trouble inside "you" begins.
Hormonal loss is a very difficult passage for everyone. At forty years old or earlier, you will start to notice either a slight weight gain or an alarming amount of weight gain. Many women report going up as much as two dress sizes. Your bleeding cycle becomes irregular. What was once like clockwork now appears seemingly whenever it wants. Sometimes you skip a month or two.
Hot flashes come without warning. Suddenly hear rises up in you that is like nothing else you have ever experienced. Sleeping-which was once a given, something you didn't even think about-becomes difficult. You now get into bed and pray for a full night of uninterrupted sleep. Mood swings are also part of the equation.
We can visibly see hormonal decline in the mirror. God forbid you have one of those horrible magnifying mirrors, which most of us do, as our eyes betray and no longer work with the clarity they once had. We see the lines and wrinkles, and the skin on the neck and body becomes looser, less firm. As we get older, changes in cellular behavior lead to changes in hormone levels that cause the skin to become thinner. The barrier function of the skin, which attracts and retains moisture, also becomes less effective, making skin drier as well.
Here's the deal: Sooner or later, you are going to start experiencing these symptoms. All women and men go through hormonal decline. Symptoms are part of nature. Symptoms are your body's way of talking to you. With each hot flash or night sweat, your body is screaming for you to do something. The good news is that now you can. You will not have to suffer in silence like your mother or grandmother. To enjoy a satisfying life, hormones must be replaced, but only with bioidentical hormones. As you will read in chapter 5, there are different ways to take them, but taking bioidentical hormones is not negotiable. There is no other or better way to replace hormones and nothing else that your body will respond to like bioidenticals. Because the body recognizes them, it does not reject them. Quite the opposite-it welcomes them.
With the exception of prescribing supplemental estrogen (usually in synthetic form), the conventional medical community considers age-related hormonal decline to be normal and, therefore, takes little action to correct it. Low levels of other hormones such as DHEA, thyroid, testosterone, and growth hormone are not treated unless, or until, a full-blown condition such as adrenal failure, hypothyroidism, or pituitary disease is diagnosed.
Many antiaging doctors take exception to not treating age-related hormonal loss. According to Dr. Philip Lee Miller: "It doesn't matter to me whether that deficiency is the normal condition of the aging human. When we can improve health and function by restoring hormone levels to optimal levels, it makes sense to do so. This is the essence of functional medicine, the goal of which is to restore function and not necessarily to treat disease."
If you are thinking of taking hormones to treat aging, it is important to understand that we once all had optimal levels. To combat aging, you must try to restore those optimal levels in order to mimic your healthiest prime, and in doing so you give your body the greatest gift it has ever received. In the following sections you'll learn about the key hormones you need to balance to start reversing the aging process.
Take the rime to read each of the next sections thoroughly. It is important that you understand the functions of each hormone. By doing so, the interviews with the doctors that follow will make complete sense.
What it is: Estrogen is one of the most powerful hormones in the human body; it is what makes a woman a woman. It is estrogen that gives women their softness, curves, and breasts and helps regulate a woman's passage through menstruation, fertility, and menopause. What many people don't know is that both men and women make estrogen. To be a woman, you need high levels of estrogen and low levels of testosterone. To be a man, you need high levels of testosterone and low levels of estrogen.
How It Works: Estrogen is not a single hormone. It is a group of three different but related hormones (estrone, estradiol, and estriol) that perform functions we normally attribute to "estrogen." Approximately three hundred different tissues are equipped with estrogen receptors. This means that estrogen can affect a wide range of tissues and organs, including the brain, liver, bones, and skin. The uterus, urinary tract, breasts, and blood vessels also depend upon estrogen to stay toned and flexible.