Helen Pensanti, M.D.

Quick Order Natural Hormones Dr. Pensanti Interview with John R. Lee M.D.

Dr. Helen Pensanti Discussion

Natural Hormones Made Easy
A compilation of information by Helen Pensanti, M.D.

Since 1993 I have encouraged my patients to switch to Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy for Menopause and Osteoporosis. WHY?

Because research shows a high risk of cancer in women who take synthetic hormones. The numbers were reported in the 3%-4% range ? Now in the latest Nurses Health Study published in 1995 we see reports of up to 46% risk of breast cancer! ( More recently this was upheld by the WHI study - see or visit our article library to receive a copy of the complete study. In addition to this a Million women Study conducted in the U.K stated a risk factor increase of 66% ) This is shocking and appalling to me. As a physician I have a responsibility: ?First do no harm.? I felt then, as I do today, that synthetic hormones DO HARM a woman, causing many problems which you will read about in this pamphlet. Now more than ever my mission is to inform women and have my patients take Natural Hormones which will not harm their bodies but rather help them through PMS, the passage of Menopause, and Osteoporosis.

The Era of Natural Progesterone and Natural Estrogen is Here!

Hormones that are made from plants are called Phytohormones. Phytoestrogens refer to plant compounds with estrogen-like activity. Phytoprogesterones are plants with progresterone-like activity.

There are thousands of plants that have estrogen and progesterone like substances. In 1936, Japanese scientists discovered a species of wild yam. They extracted very valuable chemicals out of the root called Diosgenin and Sarasapogenin. These and soybean extracts are converted for USP grade progesterone in the United States.
This product is almost chemically identical to the progesterone produced in our bodies. The problem starts here. Pharmaceutical companies take this USP grade progresterone and turn it into Progestins. Progestins are what cause many side effects you will be reading about here.

What is Estrogen?

The word ?Estrogen? generally refers to the group of hormones produced by the ovary with similar actions. The three most important hormones of this estrogen class are Estrone E1, Estroadiol E2, and Estriol E3. In Popular writing however, each of these specific members of this class continues to be referred to as Estrogen.

The symptoms of estrogen deficiency are hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings and vaginal dryness. Other symptoms are severe depression or anger, vaginal and bladder infections, joint and muscle pain, dizziness, rapid skin aging, loss of tone in breasts, fatigue and heart palpitations.

Choosing supplemental estrogen can stabilize moods, relieve hot flashes, increase mental clarity, alleviate sleep disturbance, prevent vaginal and bladder infections, slow bone loss, improve vitality and energy, improve skin and breast tone.

Recent studies, and as far back as 20 years ago, show that Estradiol E2, and Estrone E1, increase a woman?s risk of breast cancer. But Estriol E3 is protective. What I advocate is using natural hormones to eliminate cancer risks posed with the use of synthetic hormones.

Synthetic ETHINYLESTRADIOL is used in estrogen supplements and birth control pills ? this is the chemical you would want to stay away from. Women who have a history of breast or uterine cancer and women who are at risk of recurrent urinary tract infections and vaginal infections, as well as women with atherosclerosis, hypertension, varicose veins and diabetes need to stay away from synthetic hormones. Natural hormones appear to be the superior choice and the least harmful to take when choosing your Hormone Replacement Therapy.

There is a common misconception that menopause, the cessation of menses, means that a woman no longer makes female hormones and that she needs estrogen replacement and the continual care of a doctor. Estrogen levels do not fall to zero. The truth is you make less estrogen than is necessary for the monthly preparation of endometrium for pregnancy. But your body still makes estrogen from androstenidione in your fat cells. Also, after menopause, vaginal dryness and shrinkage of the vaginal mucosa predisposes a woman to vaginal inflammation or vaginitis, bladder infection or cystitis. To treat the infectious agent with antibiotics is only temporarily successful because the underlying real cause of the problem is loss of resistance and resiliency due to secondary hormone deficiency of progesterone and estrogen. Women who opt for hormone therapy have been remarkably free from problems. This is true of natural or synthetic products. Their previous vaginal dryness and mucosal atrophy disappeared.

Bad effects of estrogen are often linked to the estrogen allowing an influx of water and sodium into the cells, thus affecting aldosterone production leading to water retention and HYPERTENSION. It also causes intracellular hypoxia, opposes the actions of thyroid, promotes histamine release, promotes blood clotting ? thereby increasing the risk for stoke and embolism. Also, it thickens bile, promotes gall bladder disease, causes copper retention, and causes zinc loss. The copper and zinc imbalance is what causes mood swings!

Undesirable Side Effects of Estrogen

  •  Estrogen alone decreases libido
  •  Estrogen stimulates the growth of fibroid tumors
  •  Estrogen increases the risk for uterine (endometrial) cancer
  •  Estrogen increases breast fibrocysts
  •  Estrogen increases the risk for breast cancer

What is Estrogen Dominance?

John R. Lee, M.D. has coined a new phrase that he calls Estrogen Dominance. How can you know that you have what Dr. Lee calls ESTROGEN DOMINANCE in your body?The signs and symptoms of estrogen dominance are (and by the way,you can have one or many of these):

  •  Water retention
  •  Breast swelling
  •  Fibrocystic breasts
  •  Fibroid tumors
  •  PMS mood swings
  •  Depression
  •  Loss of libido
  •  Heavy or irregular menses
  •  Uterine fibroids
  •  Craving for sweets
  •  Weight gain
  •  Fat deposits at hips and thighs

These are undesirable side effects of two much estrogen in your body. You always knew your hormones were a little off but couldn't quite put your finger on it. Now you have a few answers?. ESTROGEN DOMINANCE! So What Should You Do if You Have Estrogen Dominance?

According to Dr. Lee, Supplementation with NATURAL PROGESTERONE is obviously the treatment of choice! Dr. Lee says, "No matter how valuable estrogen is, when unopposed by progesterone it is not something to be wholly desired in the female body." Many of estrogen's undesirable side effects are blocked by progesterone? In other words, Progesterone protects against the undesirable side effects of estrogen listed above. What I suggest is that you choose one of our natural phytoprogesterone products to counter estrogen dominance. How to choose the right natural hormone replacement.

What is Progesterone?

Progesterone is the precursor from which other sex hormones are derived, both the male hormone testosterone, and the female hormone estrogen. Progesterone is devoid of secondary sex characteristics. As might be expected, the surge of progesterone at the time of ovulation is the source of libido, the urge to procreate.
Progesterone is also important in the biosynthesis of adrenal cortical hormones (cortisone), and of gonadal (sex) hormones in females and in males.

The Functions of Progesterone Are:

  1. Maintains the secretory endometrium (the part of the female body that will eventually bleed)
  2. Protects against fibrocystic breasts and related mastodynia fibrocystic breasts return to normal
  3. Acts as a natural diuretic, protects against salt and water retention
  4. Helps the body to use fat for energy
  5. Improves alertness and gives more energy
  6. Acts as a natural antidepressant
  7. Helps in recovery from mild hypothyroidism and facilitates thyroid hormone activity
  8. Helps promote normalized blood clotting
  9. Restores normal libido (sex drive) 
  10. Helps normalize blood sugar levels
  11. Protects against blood clots
  12. Helps normalize zinc and copper levels
  13. Restores proper cell oxygen levels
  14. Protects against endometrial (uterine)cancer
  15. Helps protect against breast cancer
  16. Strengthens bones and stimulates bone building
  17. Is necessary for survival of the baby throughout pregnancy
  18. Is necessary to make natural cortisone by the adrenal gland

What is Natural Progestrone?

Today natural progesterone is mostly produced from soybeans. It is not a patentable product. Therefore, money from pharmaceutical funding for progesterone research veered in the direction of expensive patentable progestins such as synthetic birth control pills. A billion-dollar industry was born when birth control pills were created and there was no further interest in "Natural Progesterone."

Many physicians believe that progestins such as Provera are the same as progesterone, but they are not! Many of these physicians also mistakenly believe that natural progesterone shares Provera's side effects. That is also not true. Let your physician know that his prescription progestin begins with natural progesterone and then it is chemically altered to be patentable and therefore a more profitable product to the pharmaceutical industry. Natural progesterone is not new! It is used as a base in over 400 plus FDA approved drugs!

Hormone Study Finds Higher Breast Cancer Risk

From L.A. Times Staff and Wire Reports June 6, 1995
Contrary to much current medical thinking, long-term use of hormone replacement therapy may significantly increase the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women, even when progestins are added to estrogen, according to a new study. Although estrogen alone has long been associated with an elevated risk of breast cancer, most women taking the therapy use a combination of estrogen and progestin, which has been thought to be safer. However, today?s study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that even women taking a combination of the hormones had a significantly higher risk of breast cancer if they consumed the hormones for more than five years.

Women 60 and older were at the highest risk when undergoing long-term use of hormone therapy. The study showed that short-term use of hormones was not associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. But many doctors now keep women on hormones for many years, even life, because of estrogen?s demonstrated ability to ward off heart trouble and bone fractures. The latest research suggests such lengthy use many do more harm than good for some women.
?It clearly raises the need to reconsider the risk and benefit if a woman is going to use hormones for more than five years,? said Dr. Graham A. Colditz of Brigham and Women?s Hospital in Boston, the study?s principal author.

Some earlier studies have also found links between estrogen and breast cancer, others have not, and the issue has been heavily debated. But the latest report is the largest to examine the question. It was based on the Nurses? Health Study, which has followed 121,700 female nurses since 1972.

The study says the increased chance of breast cancer may make hormone supplements a significant gamble. The study found that women who took either estrogen alone or estrogen plus progestin for more than five years had a 46% higher risk of breast cancer than did those who never used the therapy. The risk varies depending on the woman?s age. The researchers calculated that a 60 year old woman who has used estrogen for at least five years has a 3% chance of developing breast cancer over the next five years if she keeps taking the treatment. If she had never used hormones after menopause, her risk over the same period would be 1.8% . The study also found that long-term user?s increased risk of breast cancer drops back to normal within two years of stopping hormone therapy.

What are Progestins?

In the U. S. A. and many other western countries, the pharmaceutical industry purchases the natural progesterone which comes from wild yams and soybeans, and then changes to make NON-NATURAL substances called Progestins. Progestins are any chemical compounds other than natural progesterone able to sustain human secretory endometrium. They are synthetic, they are NOT NATURAL progesterone. They are Progestins, Man-made. Progestins such as Provera (medroxyprogesterone acetate) do not undergo the same chemical reactions in our bodies as natural progesterone and they are not as safe to use because of their side effects. Again, I advocate using only natural progesterone.

Most Commonly Asked Questions

1. Why would I want to chose this Natural Progesterone Therapy?

Natural Progesterone (Phytoprogesterone)is an important plant hormone almost identical to our bodies. It may help some women who suffer with hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, PMS, mood swings, depression, heavy and/or irregular periods, water retention, weight gain, fibrocystic breasts, bone fragility and osteoporosis as well as loss of sex drive and loss of energy WITHOUT the dangerous side effects of synthetic hormones.

2. What exactly is natural progesterone?

Natural progesterone, a cholesterol derivative, comes from plant steroids. It matches the chemical composition of our body?s own progesterone. It comes from the human placenta, or for health and safety reasons, it can be derived from sarasapogenin and diosgenin or soybeans. Soybeans are the most common source today.

3. Are there any side effects from using natural progesterone?

Most frequently, any side effects from natural progesterone are associated with dosage, and can be easily alleviated by changing the amount and frequency of the dosage.

Menopausal women might notice some spotting when they begin using natural progesterone. This should be alleviated with continued use and nothing to fear. If it does continue, see a physician.

4. I am post menopausal, will I start menstruating again or have breakthrough bleeding if I use natural hormones?

The Postmenopausal and Osteoporosis age group should not have any side effects at all. Occasionally, upon beginning use of natural hormone supplement, a post- menopausal woman could experience some break through bleeding, or a ?period?. This rarely happens, but if it should it is a perfectly normal response and is nothing to cause alarm. The progesterone is simply causing the body to ride itself of excess stored estrogen, which can sometimes stimulate a uterine shedding ? thus breakthrough bleeding. This should be alleviated with continued use. If it does continue for longer than several months, one should consult a physician.

5. Can men use natural progesterone?

If a young man under 45 uses very much, it will cause his testicles to shrink and libido (sex drive) to decrease. However, OLDER MEN 55 and up can use natural progesterone once or twice daily, and it may cause the libido to increase.

Also, older men with rheumatoid arthritis have reported relief from pain and swelling after rubbing natural progesterone in a cream base on their joints.

Older men have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, use of natural progesterone and a specific nutritional regimen is recommended for them as well.

6. Do natural hormones help vaginal dryness?

Vaginal dryness can occur in women of all ages for various reasons. It is primarily present in postmenopausal women as hormone levels drop. Natural hormones can be used and have been very successful in treating vaginal dryness and vulvar dystrophy associated with aging.

7. Should estrogen be taken without progesterone?

Definitely not! It is recommended that natural progesterone be used with any form of estrogen natural or synthetic. Estrogen without progesterone can cause endometrial and vaginal carcinomas. Estrogen alone blocks thyroid and causes water retention, and it can cause fibrocystic breast disease and even fibroid tumors and cysts. It is estimated based on lab results that only about 10% of the population really needs to suppliment estrogen.

8. Is it possible to build bone back?

Yes, natural progesterone builds bone back, even in older women. Natural progesterone is a valuable agent for the prevention of osteoporosis and for the management of postmenopausal osteoporosis.

Once a woman reaches age 75, there is little difference in bone density between those who have taken estrogen and those who have not. Estrogen treatment alone for 5 to 10 years after menopause is unlikely to preserve bone density or prevent fractures in old age. Progesterone seems to help. Also please see our osteoporosis kit for more information.

9. How do I know whether I need natural progesterone alone, or natural progesterone with natural estrogen?

First of all a lab test using a saliva sample would determine your hormone levels to see if your estrogen is low. This generally amounts to only about 10% of the population. If you personally have a history of cancer I recommend only natural progesterone. If you have breast pain you might want to stick with natural progesterone, too. All others should base their decision to use natural estrogen on the results from their test.

10. What if I have had breast or uterine cancer?

Stick with natural progesterone products only.

11. I?m already on hormone replacement therapy from my doctor, why should I switch to natural hormones?

Natural hormones are simply a NATURAL ALTERNATIVE to hormone replace therapy. Synthetic estrogens and synthetic progestins have many side effects, increased risk of cancer is one. Women with a history of hypertension, diabetes, weight problems, varicose veins and atherosclerosis should not be on synthetic estrogen and synthetic progestins because it will exacerbate these conditions. The weight gain is from 10-40 lbs.

12. How do I get off synthetic estrogen and on the natural?

If you are taking synthetic estrogen, whether by itself or in combination with synthetic progestin, a gradual step might be to at least start natural hormones along with synthetic estrogen, for a month, then wean slowly off synthetic estrogen. DO NOT go off synthetic estrogen suddenly, otherwise the symptoms will return with a vengeance!!

13. How do I get off synthetic progestins?

If someone is taking synthetic progestin, in combination with synthetic estrogen, once they have begun using natural progesterone, simply cease the use of synthetic progestin at the end of its current 12-day cycle of use. A slightly higher dose of natural progesterone may be required initially to remove the progestins from the cell receptors.

14. Can I mix synthetic estrogen with natural progesterone?

Yes. It will decrease your cancer risk.

15. How long should I be on natural hormone replacement therapy?

It is recommended that women should use natural hormones a minimum of five years but each individual woman may use them as long as they feel the hormones are of benefit to them, their skin texture and bone density (as demonstrated by bone density testing). It?s also a great help for vaginal dryness causing painful intercourse.

16. Do I need a prescription for natural progesterone?

No. Natural progesterone in a cream or oil base comes from a wild yam plant or soybeans, which are technically food products. All of the other ingredients, aside from a trace of some cosmetic ingredients, are natural, herbal products.

17. Why is transdermal absorption preferred?

Natural hormones are small, fat-soluble molecules that are readily absorbed through the skin. They pass directly into the skin to the subcutaneous fat layers, then to blood circulation. So first it goes into body fats and then into the blood. Oral forms are available for those who prefer to take it that way.

19. Where is the best place to rub in natural hormone creams?

Recommended places are the inner aspects of arms and thighs, the face and neck, upper chest or abdomen. Be sure to alternate sites on your body to keep receptors in your skin sensitive to absorption.

20. How long before I notice changes in my body?

It may require 2-3 months use before maximum benefits are experienced. Don?t five up too quickly. Some women report immediate improvement. Use the adequacy of vaginal secretions as your guide. If you notice your vagina is moist and your mood is even, you are on the right track! My patients report a 4-6 week use before noticing sexual interest.

21. How important is diet?

Make sure that you have a balanced diet that includes suffient fiber along with enough vegtables and a good antioxidant. Vitamin C is a good place to start - but beware not all vitamin C is the same, seek out a sodium ascorbate based product. For women with elevated estrogen levels E2, add an IC3 suppliment to your diet.

22. What do I say to my physician who thinks this is silly?

There is nothing new under the sun! This formula is the same base as 400 FDA drugs on the market today. We just don?t add synthetic chemicals to it. More and more physicians are finding out that synthetic hormones have too many undesirable side effects. I receive inquires almost everyday from M.D.? s who want to switch.

23. How safe is this Natural Progesterone?

The safety of natural progesterone is well established up to 800 mg per day. There have been no reports to the FDA of problems with it, hence the FDA permits the sale of progesterone cream at the levels we offer our patients without a prescription.

24. What can I do if I want to study natural hormones in more depth?

Read "What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause"By John R. Lee, M.D.

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