Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hear Better with Hormones

Here are some recent articles showing that women on hormone therapy have better hearing than women who do not take hormones. What?! This is part of my crusade to make sure women are careful to get a nuanced view of whether they would benefit from hormones, rather than the over-simplified view that all hormones are bad. Hormones, taken at the lowest doses and preferably bioidentical, can be safe and life-altering. They've been proven to help mood, libido, vasomotor symptoms, and now HEARING!

Acta Otolaryngol. 2007 Feb;127(2):149-55. Hearing in women at menopause. Prevalence of hearing loss, audiometric configuration and relation to hormone replacement therapy. Hederstierna C, Hultcrantz M, Collins A.

Department of Audiology, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.

CONCLUSION. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may have a protective effect on hearing impairment in postmenopausal women. New guidelines for classification of audiometric configuration in age-related hearing loss are suggested. OBJECTIVES. To describe prevalence of hearing loss and audiometric configuration in a group of middle-aged women with respect to menopausal stage and HRT. SUBJECTS AND METHODS. A total of 143 women around menopause were sampled through the Swedish population register. The mean hearing threshold levels were compared according to menopausal status. The audiograms in the 57 women with hearing loss were classified according to audiometric configuration. RESULTS. In all, 57 women (40%) had any kind of hearing loss; 42 had very minute hearing loss; 15 had a 4FA (average of thresholds at 0.5, 1, 2, and 4 kHz) of at least 20-39 dB HL in at least one ear. Two of these had a 4FA of 40-69 dB HL in at least one ear. The most common configurations were: gently sloping (47%), steeply sloping (14%), and high-frequency U-shaped (14%). The postmenopausal women who were not on HRT had poorer hearing mainly at 2 and 3 kHz, compared with pre- and perimenopausal women, and postmenopausal women on HRT.

Acta Otolaryngol. 2006 Jan;126(1):10-4. Estrogen and hearing: a summary of recent investigations.
Hultcrantz M, Simonoska R, Stenberg AE.

Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.

Is the female sex steroid estrogen the key to preserved hearing in the aging human? This question remains unanswered, but hearing loss is more profound in elderly males than females. There are also well-known sex differences in the auditory brainstem response (ABR), i.e. women have shorter latencies than men. Moreover, menopausal women who are administered hormone replacement therapy have slightly better hearing than those who are not, and women with Turner's syndrome (45,X), who are biologically estrogen-deficient, show longer ABR latencies and early presbyacusis. These findings are also supported by animal experiments. When boosted with estrogen or testosterone the non-reproductive female midshipman fish alters its inner ear auditory mechanism so that it can hear the male's hum-like call. If estrogen receptor beta is knocked out in mice, severe progressive hearing loss occurs, leading to early deafness. In apparent contradiction to these findings, there have been case reports suggesting that hormone replacement therapy and oral contraceptive use can lead to hearing loss, but of another type, namely acute sudden deafness. Such contradictory aspects of the action of estrogen are commonly found and may spring from the fact that there are two estrogen receptors, alpha and beta, both of which are present in the inner ear of mice, rats and humans. Knowing how sex steroids can alter hearing ability may give important clues as to how estrogen can preserve hearing in humans. In this review we present a summary of current knowledge about hearing and estrogen.

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I'm an organic gynecologist, yoga teacher + writer. I earn a living partnering with women to get them vital and self-realized again. We're born that way, but often fall off the path. Let's take your lousy mood and fatigue, and transform it into something sacred and useful.