Menopause, hormones, and health – oh my! When it comes to women’s wellness, hormones are heavy hitters. Their presence, or lack thereof depending on age, affects our bodies, our minds, our overall health and even our relationships with others. Because of their big impact, the last decade has seen a lot of buzz surrounding hormone replacement therapy, specifically in menopausal women. A recent article in TIME magazine brought some attention to the subject and the unfortunate misunderstanding that seemed to spread like wildfire.
For many women, menopause is no walk in the park. From mood swings, to lack of sleep, uncomfortable vaginal dryness, and of course hot flashes, menopause can wreak havoc on our routines.
Hormone replacement therapies were introduced to help women maintain the healthy hormone levels that their bodies no longer provided after menopause. These therapies have been shown to reduce the risks of heart disease and breast cancer. However, some confusion came about in the wake of a study from the Women’s Health Initiative in 2002 regarding the combination HRT of estrogen and progestin. The study indicated that this combination treatment may have actually increased the risks of heart disease, breast cancer and even stroke. Because of this information, many women avoided hormone replacement therapy altogether. In fact, prior to the WHI trial, 90% of women took estrogen replacements, and following the WHI trial, only 10% of women did.
Sadly, because the information from the WHI study was incomplete, many women who could have benefitted from hormone replacement therapy avoided the treatment, with fatal repercussions. The fact is, there are certain age groups of menopausal women that could indeed be helped by HRT. Like so many things in medicine, HRT is not a ‘one size fits all’ type of treatment.
We urge our perimenopausal patients to discuss their options with Dr. Brady. With an individualized, case-by-case approach, women can enjoy the perks of HRT and safely reduce their risks of heart disease and breast cancer. Yes, it’s true: hormones can be your friends!