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Fountain of Youth

Column by Linda Long, M.D., FACOG - Tidewater Women, September 2008

The good news is the average life span for women in the U.S. has increased to 78. The bad news is, with the average age of menopause beginning at 51, a significant percentage of our years are being spent in the post-menopausal period.

Back to the good news. The medical community has come a long way in understanding and overcoming the debilitating effects of menopause and estrogen withdrawal such as hot fl ashes, mood changes, sleep disturbances, painful sex, weight gain, and loss of energy. With the correct medical treatment, women are now truly living their “golden” years rather than enduring the frustration of these symptoms.

One treatment is called bioidentical hormone therapy, which replenishes your body with hormones that are chemically identical to the hormones your body produces. The optimal time to start hormone replacement therapy is early, before the damage of being without hormones can be done. Women on medically supervised hormone replacement therapy programs regularly remark on how much better they feel after starting therapy. With the use of hormones, they are reducing menopausal symptoms, maintaining a youthful appearance, avoiding senile memory changes, reducing the risk of heart disease and osteoporotic fractures, and maintaining a youthful sense of well being and energy.

Prevention of disease and loss of vitality are the keys to successful aging. Each decade after age 30, a woman’s hormone levels decrease by 10 percent leading to suboptimal function and aging. When you consider that each hormone has its own specific ability to help the body function better and prevent disease, you’re losing a lot of health. Replacing vital hormones that have been lost to the correct levels can help you maintain a youthful state.

A balanced hormone replacement therapy program includes DHEA, melatonin, thyroid, and the better known hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. This treatment helps prevent harm caused by diseases of aging before they occur. It is far better to change the process of aging from the get-go rather than attempting to treat disease after it has struck, which is one of the primary ways traditional medicine operates.

Most of my new patients tell me, “Doctor, getting old ain’t for sissies.” Rarely are they “OK” with the harmful effects aging has had on their bodies. Yet, many physicians accept this process as normal and inevitable. I do not.

There is a new paradigm that blends modern medicine with complementary and alternative medicine to prevent the downward spiral of aging. Women in our day and age want to feel better, look better, and function better. I believe there really is a fountain of youth, and it’s called bioidentical hormone therapy. ■

Dr. Linda Long, FACOG, is the co-founder of Synergy in Chesapeake, an integrative medicine center for women. She is a board certified gynecologist and an expert in bioidentical hormone replacement and anti-aging medicine. She can be reached at 757-410-5462 or

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