Estrogen – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Estrogen is an essential hormone that has over 400 actions on a woman’s body. It’s what defines a woman. It’s been in your body since you were born and increases greatly at the time of puberty. It’s easy to take it for granted when everything is working automatically. When a young woman’s menstrual periods become irregular, painful or accompanied by severe mood swings, anxiety, depression or acne, that’s an indication of a system that’s gone awry. Birth control periods or Depo-Provera are a bad, ugly way to treat these problems. When prescribed, they do little to correct the underlying problem. These signs and symptoms are the way the body communicates to you that it needs help. A better approach is to determine the root cause that’s driving the problem. [click to continue…]

Does Estrogen Make You Gain Weight?

Does estrogen make you gain weightPostmenopausal women suffering from hot flashes, may hesitate to take estrogen because they’ve heard it can cause weight gain. Who needs any extra help to gain weight? Is there any truth to all this?

What are Bioidentical Hormones?

When you’re replacing deficient estrogen, it’s important to respect the wisdom of the body. No drug we give can approach the amazing complexity of the endocrine system. However, you can start by giving a hormone that is identical to the hormone that’s missing. We call these bioidentical hormones.

Another important factor is the route of administration. Estrogen is most commonly given as a pill that’s taken orally. It’s convenient and easy to pop a pill. But easy isn’t always the best. If we’re wanting to mimic the body, how does the ovary deliver estrogen to your tissues? I assure you the ovary doesn’t dump a big load of estrogen in your stomach once a day!! A more natural way to take estrogen is by applying it to the skin as a patch or cream. Estrogen taken in a pill form overloads your liver with excessive amounts of estrogen that increase harmful proteins, clotting factors and proinflammatory substances leading to various problems. Let me explain how oral estrogen leads to weight gain.

Weight Gain & Oral Estrogen

Weight gain from oral estrogen causes visceral obesity, the medical term for increased fat around your middle from fat that gets deposited in vital organs like the heart, kidneys and liver. This increased fat mass leads to increases in leptin produced by the fat cells. Topical, but not oral, estradiol prevents this increase in body fat and leptin. An interesting fact about visceral obesity is that women who take NO estrogen can also get weight gain around their middle because they develop insulin resistance. This is a frequent complaint from older women who are not on estrogen!

Oral, but not topical, estrogen increases the production of thyroxine-binding globulin (TBG) the carrier for thyroid hormone. Higher levels of TBG lower the amount of available thyroid hormone thereby lowering your metabolism. Oral, but not topical, estrogen also suppresses IGF-1, a marker for growth hormone. Growth hormone is needed to build muscle and burn fat. All this explains a common complaint I hear from women who’ve been on oral estrogen. “After starting oral estrogen, I gained 15 pounds in the first month and I didn’t increase my calories or lower my exercise. Now I’m eating less and exercising more and I just keep gaining!” Estrogen from injections or pellets can also lead to weight gain because the blood levels produced are much too high.

Weight gain from oral or injectable estrogen occurs because these preparations violate the natural physiology of the body. The ovary is amazing…it releases tiny bits of estradiol throughout the day directly into the blood stream. Even topical estradiol preparations can’t reproduce this same elegant effect, but it’s the closest delivery system we have. That’s why your chances of maintaining a healthy metabolism and weight are best when you choose topical estradiol preparations.

References:
O’Sullivan, AJ, Crampton LJ, Freund, et al, “The route of estrogen replacement therapy confers divergent effects on substrate oxidation and body composition in postmenopausal women,” The Journal of Clinical Investigation, vol 102, (1998): pp 1035-1040.
Lwin R., Darnell B. Oster R, et al, Effect of oral estrogen on substrate utilization in postmenopausal women,” Fertility and Sterility, vol. 90, no 4, (2008): pp 1275-1278
DeCarlo C, Tommaselli G, et al, “Serum leptin levels and body composition in postmenopausal women: effects of hormone therapy,” Menopause, vol 11, no 4 (2004): pp 466-473
Nachtigall LE, Raju U, Banerjee S, et al, “Serum estradiol binding profiles in postmenopausal women undergoing three common estrogen replacement therapies: association with sex hormone binding globulin, estradiol and estrone levels,” Menopause, vol 7, (2000): pp 243-250.
Slater CC, Hodis HN, Mack WJ, et al, “Markedly elevated levels of estrone sulfate after long-term oral, but not transdermal, administration of estradiol in postmenopausal women,” Menopause, vol 8, (2001): pp 200-203

Flourless Brownie Recipe

IMG_1428
Ingredients:

4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped

½ cup honey

1/3 cup creamy roasted almond butter (unsweetened)

1 medium ripe avocado, pitted

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 TBSP coconut sugar

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp sea salt

 

Preheat the oven to 350. Line an 8-inch-by-8-inch baking dish with parchment paper. In a small pot over very low heat, combine the chocolate, honey, and almond butter. Stir constantly until melted and smooth. Transfer to a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Scoop the avocado flesh into the food processor and add the remaining ingredients. Process until creamy and very smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer the batter to the parchment-lined pan and spread it out evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean or with a few moist crumbs attached. Cool completely, then refrigerate for 2 hours before cutting into 16 squares. Store the brownies in the refrigerator or freezer in an airtight container.

The Silent Connection Between Estrogen and Osteoporosis

Dr Marina Johnson Discusses Osteoporosis and Estrogen Deficiency

 

After menopause without the use of estrogen, a woman can lose up to 20% of her bone mass. This increases her risk for osteoporosis leading to loss of height, hip fractures, chronic pain, and disability. Of women who suffer hip fractures, 24 percent die of complications within a year of the injury. Osteoporosis of the spine leads to the familiar “dowager’s hump.” A dowager’s hump is a prominence on the back resulting from collapse of the spine from spontaneous vertebral fractures. When it’s severe, the woman is totally bent over and cannot stand up straight. It is tragic to see a woman suffering from something that could have been prevented.

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Can Estrogen Help Prevent This Silent Killer?

Alzheimer's disease the silent killer, Alzheimer's disease signs and symptoms, Alzheimer's disease and estrogen deficiency,Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer's disease accounts for 50 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Alzheimer's is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer's, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Those with Alzheimer's live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions.

A symptom of estrogen deficiency that many women fear is the decline in memory and mental concentration. Our mothers and grandmothers often accepted this as a necessary consequence of aging. Postmenopausal women often describe it as “brain fog” and “fuzzy thinking.” They especially notice problems with word retrieval and remembering names and phone numbers they could easily recall before menopause.

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MARINA JOHNSON
M.D., F.A.C.E.
MEDICAL DIRECTOR

BOARD CERTIFIED
IN ENDOCRINOLOGY
& METABOLISM AND
INTERNAL MEDICINE

10670 N Central Expressway
Suite 510
Dallas, Texas 75231-2111

214.574.4376 office
214.574.4377 fax

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