by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP
- The Women’s Health Initiative results — then and now
- New evidence on the use of hormones for menopause
- Risks and benefits of HRT — individuality is central
- Phytotherapy: a safe and effective alternative
- Your options for menopause symptom relief
If you’ve been keeping up with the news, you’re probably aware of the recent questions about risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). These reports, along with new scientific evidence, are leading some women and their healthcare practitioners to reconsider the 2002 mandate to stay off of HRT. Both at the clinic and in our True Health Program, I hear this question again and again: “What’s changed since the negative results of the Women’s Health Initiative?”
I’m happy to say that researchers have been busy over the past few years, and their findings give the medical world new perspective on the use of HRT for menopause symptoms. The answers we now have are similar to what Women to Women has been telling women all along — the decision to go on hormone replacement therapy is individual, and the risks, benefits, and side effects differ depending on the individual.
I have seen some menopausal women do well on conventional HRT (though we don’t keep them on it if we can get them off), and others who soar following a gentler approach, like bioidentical HRT or phytotherapy. In the end, you can take comfort in the fact that there are several options for menopause symptoms — and we’re here to help you understand them.
Consider our approach for getting off HRT. It’s uniquely tailored for women to minimize side effects and symptoms during their transition off of hormone replacement therapy.
The Women’s Health Initiative results — then and now
Time has given researchers more perspective on the results that came out in 2002, when women were warned that hormone replacement therapy leads to higher risks for breast cancer, cardiovascular events, blood clots, cognitive decline, and more. An extensive collection of data has been scrutinized and published. Though we still don’t know everything there is to know about the risks and benefits of HRT, the research is bearing out what I’ve seen in practice for years — timing and individual circumstance are key.
New studies suggest that women under 60 years old and within ten years of menopause can benefit from HRT with much less risk (even with potential benefit) than older women who are more than ten years away from menopause. The majority of the women enrolled in the WHI study were older and much past menopause.
The most recent evidence on the use of hormones for menopause
Although the new research is promising, one limitation is that much of it still looks only at synthetic progesterones and equine estrogens (estrogens derived from a pregnant horse). These hormone forms are molecularly different from the hormones we make in our bodies, so drug companies can patent them.