MENOPAUSE, HRT, AND BIOZHENA

For these and other terms, see the Alphabet of bioZhena at /2007/11/28/the-alphabet-of-biozhena/

You’ll find much more there under Menopause, HRT, and bioZhena.

Klimt’s Medicine mural

The OvulonaTM is an individual woman’s health monitoring tool, primarily responsive to her steroid hormone profile. As such, it may be expected to become useful for the management of menopause, and specifically for the individualization of HRT (hormone replacement therapy) or for the monitoring of the effects of any alternative approach to menopause management. See also under Hot flushes (or flashes) and under End-organ effect, below.

The concept of individualization of HRT has to do with the adjustment of hormone dosages, so as to minimize the drugs’ harmful side effects. The bioZhena technology is an objective and quantitative monitor of the effects of steroid hormones – whether endogeneous or exogeneous (own-body-generated versus administered). On this basis, it is expected to be a meaningful tool for menopause management, both in the hands of health providers as well as conceivably in the hands of the end-users themselves. Besides causing the Ovulona to become a widely used personal tool for women’s health management in the reproductive years, there is a good chance that the technology will naturally extend its usefulness into the post-reproductive years.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT):

The use of synthetic hormones, particularly estrogen, to replace the menopausal woman’s diminished naturally self-generated supply of hormones. Prescribed to alleviate menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, as well as to prevent osteoporosis. Menopause and HRT – initially as “estrogen replacement” or unopposed estrogen – did not come into vogue as a topic of concern for the medical profession until the 1960s, when chemical contraception was introduced.

It is interesting to note that in countries in Asia and South America, where women eat either wild yams or soybeans, which are sources of progesterone, the term “hot flush” does not even exist in their languages. They also rarely suffer from the host of female problems presently plaguing Western women.

It is a fact that an estimated 40 to 50 million American women are now 50, the approximate average age of menopause onset. We believe that the Ovulona will be useful in menopause management in general, and personalization of HRT in particular. The latter has to do with the minimization of side effects of HRT. With respect to that, note that the risk of developing breast cancer, particularly the lobular subtype, is elevated with ‘recent long-term’ use of hormone replacement therapy. This according to a report published in the February 2002 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

For more details, see Another study implicates HRT in breast cancer at http://www.lef.org/whatshot/2002_02.htm (and also http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3018930.stm, or google on HRT report risk of developing breast cancer).

See this April 2007 article at http://www.kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/rep_index.cfm?DR_ID=44377, which states that as a result of said report, millions of women ceased use of the drugs. Prescriptions for HRT declined by at least 38% in 2003 and by an additional 20% in 2004. Researchers found that in 2003 and 2004, 30,000 fewer women developed breast cancer than would have been predicted by previous trends, and the incidence of breast cancer reached its lowest rate since 1987. Researchers estimate that 16,000 fewer cases of breast cancer are being diagnosed each year because of the decline in HRT use, but experts argue that HRT should not be discontinued or abandoned.

HOT FLUSHES (OR FLASHES):

During the menopausal years, many women experience severe multiple symptoms, to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the individual. In fact, 70% of women experience hot flushes within 3 months of a natural or a surgical menopause. With some, the menopausal impact of estrogen deprivation can go unnoticed. The hot flush – or, medically, the vasomotor flush – is viewed as the hallmark of the female climacteric, experienced to some degree by most menopausal women.

The term is descriptive of a sudden reddening of the skin on the head, neck and chest, which is accompanied by a feeling of intense body heat and often by profuse perspiration. The duration varies from a few seconds (about 30) to several minutes, and rarely an hour or so. The episode ends usually in profuse sweating and a cold sensation. The hot flush frequency may be from rare to recurrent every few minutes, and the flushes are more pronounced at night or during times of stress. The disturbance of sleep results in fatigue, which may in turn lead to irritability, poor concentration, impaired memory, and other deterioration of quality of life. The vasomotor flushes are less frequent and less intense in a cool environment such as in winter months in the northern hemisphere. They can occur in pre-menopause, and are a major feature of post-menopause, lasting in most women for one or two years, but in as many as 25 – 50% of women for longer than 5 years. Unlike other aspects of menopause, hot flushes lessen in frequency and intensity with advancing age.

The physiology of the hot flush is still not well understood, but it apparently originates in the hypothalamus (in the brain) and is brought about by the decline in estrogen at menopause. Vasomotor flushes appear to result from a sudden lowering of the hypothalamic thermoregulatory set point. Activation of cutaneous vasodilation (increased blood flow into skin vasculature) causes an increased peripheral blood flow and thus heat loss, leading to a fall in core temperature. There are hormonal consequences as follows: About 3 to 6 minutes after the flush onset, epinephrine increases in blood (but not norepinephrine), and corticotropin acutely rises 5 minutes after the flush onset, leading to increases in cortisol (15 minutes), androstenedione (15 minutes) and dehydroepiandrosterone, DHEA (20 minutes). While luteinizing hormone (LH) increases and peaks about 12 minutes after the onset, growth hormone also rises, about 30 minutes after the flush. On the other hand, estrogen levels, as well as prolactin, FSH and TSH (follicle-stimulating and thyroid-stimulating hormones) remain stable during hot flushes.

The flush may be preceded by palpitations or headache, and is often accompanied by weakness, faintness, or vertigo. It is understood in gynecology that 10 to 25% of women report hot flushes before menopause, and that women are often treated unnecessarily with estrogen for this relatively common psychosomatic symptom.

In brief, the flush is not a release of accumulated body heat but is a sudden inappropriate excitation of heat release mechanisms. Its relationship to the LH surge and temperature change within the brain is not well understood. It is understood that the flushes are a consequence of the withdrawal of estrogens, rather than of hypoestrogenism (low estrogen levels) per se. The discontinuation of administered estrogens may also precipitate hot flushes, which may also be caused by the infertility drug clomiphene citrate (a nonsteroidal inhibitor of estrogen receptors in the brain).

Obese women tend to be less troubled by hot flushes (because they are less hypoestrogenic).

An estimated 40 to 50 million American women are now 50, the approximate average age of menopause onset, and so it is not surprising that there is much discussion about whether hormone replacement therapy (HRT, see above) causes breast cancer or whether natural hormone creams are effective. The average woman experiencing the onset of menopause can get lost in all the controversies — especially if she is already losing her normal composure because of distressing hot flushes and night sweats.

The bioZhena technology is expected to become a useful tool for the management of menopause, and specifically for the individualization of HRT or for the monitoring of the effects of any approach to menopause management. The concept of individualization of HRT has to do with the adjustment of hormone dosages, so as to minimize the drugs’ harmful side effects.

Alternative approaches include various uses of plant products with natural estrogenic and anti-estrogenic effects that balance and augment the body’s hormone levels. For example, in The Hot Flash Cookbook (Chronicle Books, 1997), author Cathy Luchetti shares her thoroughly researched and tested nutritional solutions for relief of menopausal symptoms. In “No More Hot Flashes!” ( http://216.205.123.2/whatshot/whatshot45.shtml ), Luchetti is quoted saying, “I couldn’t accept the very idea of HRT. I have never believed in pill-popping or other synthetic approaches to health. Yet, I had to do something, because I felt as if my once-dependable body and upbeat attitude were being chiseled away, bit by bit. And being a historian, I kept recalling all the Victorian stories of menopause that ended with the woman becoming ‘unhinged by the change of life.’ I refused to accept that as my fate.”

Luchetti’s words may be considered symptomatic of the attitude of many women today, and bioZhena is in tune with these changing attitudes. Unfortunately for some, though, with addiction and consumerism being what they are, some of our “thoroughly modern Millies” (pun intended) find it almost impossible to recognize that “…to try for hot-flash relief, you should avoid certain foods if you can — especially spicy foods, caffeine, and sweets. Drinking alcohol can also trigger hot flashes”. For those, there exist some over-the-counter herbal supplements “for ridding oneself of hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms”.

As an objective and quantitative monitor of the effects of endogeneous or exogeneous (own-body-generated versus administered) steroid hormones, the bioZhena technology is expected to be a meaningful tool for menopause management, both in the hands of health providers as well as conceivably in the hands of the end-users themselves. This is a logical expectation because some women, especially those still having menstrual cycles, have apparently found that nutritional supplements (such as Dong Quai or Licorice Root) actually aggravated their symptoms. The proponents of these supplements argue that some of the herbs “don’t agree with every woman” and that it is necessary to “give it time and carefully observe its effects in your body.” As in any other situation, a good diagnostic tool is a highly advisable proposition.

Michelangelo’s Sybille de Cummes

End-organ effect:

A concept of biomedicine, which has to do with monitoring of the effects of stimuli, usually chemical stimuli such as drugs, on a biological system, that is either a part of or the complete body of an animal, or a human subject. While the fate of a chemical compound can be monitored by detecting it in body fluids (blood, urine, saliva, etc.), it can also be monitored by measuring the effect on a certain part of the body, called the end organ because the stimulus ends up there. The same applies to stimuli and reactions that the body generates by itself. bioZhena explores electronic monitoring of end-organ effects.

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3 Responses to “MENOPAUSE, HRT, AND BIOZHENA”

  1. jmorrow50 Says:

    Though I read a recent article which suggested that don quai does not produce any estrogen-like effects, a recent study suggests that black cohosh helps with some menopause symptoms including hot flushes:

    http://jmorrow50.wordpress.com/2007/12/14/black-cohosh-for-hot-flushes/

  2. biozhena Says:

    Thank you, Jarret, for the information.

    And, another interesting site pertinent to perimenopause is http://www.psychoneuroendocrinology.com
    (not sure what the right procedure is – to put it in blogroll?)

  3. Much in women’s health revolves around folliculogenesis – from teen age to peri-menopause « bioZhena's Weblog Says:

    […] on menopause, HRT and bioZhena can be found in the early blog post at https://biozhena.wordpress.com/2007/12/18/menopause-hrt-and-biozhena/ […]

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