Patient: “Doctor, I’m miserable! I’m having hot flashes and night sweats, I’ve gained 30 pounds that won’t budge, I’m depressed, and I don’t want to have sex with my husband.”
Doctor: “Well, your lab results are normal. You’re just getting older.”
Patient: “I need help. I’m already exercising and eating well. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to feel better.”
Doctor: “Well…I can give you an anti-depressant that may help with your hot flashes and depression, but it can also cause weight gain. I can’t give you any hormone replacement because it causes breast cancer and other health problems. Perhaps if you just have sex more often, your sex drive will get better.”
This true patient account highlights the ongoing plight of menopausal women in America….
They are being held hostage…trapped in bodies they can’t escape from and often can’t control…and the key to their release, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), is purposely being withheld from them because of a 15 year lie....
Sadly, their pleas for help fall upon the deaf ears of doctors unwilling to look beyond the results of outdated and flawed scientific research.
Menopause is Hazardous to a Woman's Health
Women don’t go through menopause…it’s their permanent hormonal destiny. 51 million American women are in menopause, and 2 million more enter menopause each year.
"No big deal", most doctors tell their patients. "If you can just tolerate 4 to 6 years of hot flashes, weight gain, vaginal dryness, brain fog, and no sex, you'll be just fine! If you need something to help take the edge off in the meantime, here's a prescription for Prozac."
The trek up Mount Menopause is hell for most women, and there is no health reward once they reach the summit. A hundred years ago, menopause didn’t matter because women often died before or shortly after entering menopause. Now, women’s average life expectancy is 83 years which means they’ll spend approximately one-third of their lives (around 30 years) in menopause. That's a very long time!
Despite what doctors incorrectly tell female patients, menopause matters! In fact, it’s the most impactful health event a woman will ever experience...and it's associated with potentially devastating consequences.
Here’s a sampling of what scientific research has proven:
Menopause is associated with a two-fold increase in risk of hypertension, with a prevalence of 75% in postmenopausal women.
The risk of sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, increases significantly after menopause, affecting nearly 60% of women.
The risk of heart disease rises dramatically after menopause, and heart disease is the number one killer of postmenopausal women (significantly more than breast cancer).
Because of the extreme importance of estrogen in maintaining brain health, postmenopausal women have a much higher incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease. In fact, over two-thirds of all patients with Alzheimer’s Disease are menopausal women.
Other health issues which threaten postmenopausal women's health include mood disorders, osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, and autoimmune diseases.
In addition to the direct negative health consequences, menopause also carries a hefty price tag. Numerous studies have confirmed the socioeconomic costs of menopause dwarf the cost of proactively treating it.
NOW who thinks menopause is no big deal?? This is about more than hot flashes and vaginal dryness!
The Biggest Lie of the Century
There’s no dispute that the physiological consequences of being in menopause can be dangerous and compromise the health and longevity of postmenopausal women.
Before 2002, Hormone Replacement Therapy was accepted as the scientifically sound, first line treatment for menopause. Then…
In 2002, the Women’s Health Initiative trial results were released, and mass hysteria followed.
The study of 160,000 women on HRT concluded HRT was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, and other health problems.
Overnight, women stopped using HRT, and doctors stopped prescribing it…based on just this one study (remember, HRT had been used for nearly 40 years before this study was published).
Interestingly, the hormones used in study subjects were Premarin and Prempro, both of which are derived hormones in horse urine. Moreover, the study was funded by the pharmaceutical companies who manufactured these hormones. Coincidence?
Spoiler Alert: The WHI study was flawed, yes, flawed!
In addition, re-examination of the evidence in 2017 found women on HRT had better quality of lives, more sexual satisfaction, and no vasomotor symptoms. Additionally, they had less osteoporosis, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Extensive research both prior and subsequent to the WHI study also found HRT to be safe and effective for controlling menopausal symptoms and preventing menopause related diseases. Unfortunately, most doctors haven't updated their data bases and continue to withhold HRT from millions of postmenopausal women. Moreover, they strike fear of HRT into the hearts of knowledgeable women who are actively seeking it.
The Most Important Things Women Need to Know About HRT
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the only way to restore premenopausal hormone balance to help prevent and in some cases, reverse, the negative health consequences of menopause.
We knew the truth about the safety of HRT decades before 2002…and the 15-year lie about the dangers of HRT was exposed in 2017….
It's important for women to understand, however, that while HRT can be life changing and life saving, it can also be dangerous if prescribed by a health care practitioner who lacks the proper experience, knowledge and training. Messing with a woman's hormones is no joke!
The problem is that competent medical practitioners who really understand how to properly prescribe bioidentical hormone replacement therapy are hard to find. In fact, the countless women I’ve worked over the years needlessly suffered at the hands of so called ‘hormone experts’. So, what’s a woman with hormone imbalances to do? Get educated!
Here are FIVE Key things you need to know if You're Considering HRT:
Never cycle HRT if you're menopausal. The only reason why women have a menstrual cycle is to have babies. So, once a woman is in menopause, it makes absolutely NO SENSE to cycle hormones. Plus, giving a woman unopposed estrogen for two weeks every month can promote abnormal thickening of the lining of the uterus and make estrogen dominance worse in women who are already estrogen dominant.
Bioidentical hormone replacement is NOT safer. Even though bioidentical hormones are biologically identical to a woman’s own hormones does not mean they are safer! If the hormones are given in incorrect dosage forms (i.e. estrogen pills) and/or the doses of hormones are not balanced or too high, they can be just as dangerous as conventional hormone replacement therapy.
Never take estrogen by mouth. This is true even for conventional hormone replacement therapy. Oral estrogen replacement therapy is dangerous and has been tied to numerous health risks, including stroke, heart disease, high cholesterol, and increased blood clotting. Estrogen patches, creams, and gels are safer alternatives.
The levels of topically administered hormones (i.e. creams) cannot be accurately determined through blood work. This is probably the number one reason I see that women on bioidentical hormone replacement therapy get overdosed and have horrible side effects. The mechanics are a little out of the scope of this blog. Suffice to say that when hormone creams are rubbed on the skin, the hormones are absorbed into arteries, veins, fat tissue, and lymphatics. Routine lab work samples blood from the veins. This blood has already been to all the cells and tissues of the body, and the good stuff and hormones have been absorbed. This means that there should not be any detectable hormone levels in the blood in the veins. Most doctors don’t understand this, so they just keep giving higher and higher of doses of hormones until they finally do show up in the venous blood. That is a serious mistake! Saliva and blood spot testing are the only reliable ways to check the levels of hormones which are being prescribed in cream form.
Women Without a Uterus Still Need Progesterone. Progesterone is an incredibly important hormone with over 300 functions in the body. It also reduces the risk of breast and uterine cancer. In the conventional medical world, women who have had a complete hysterectomy are typically offered estrogen replacement alone. The rationale is that since the uterus is gone, progesterone is not needed to prevent uterine cancer. But, every other cell and tissue in a woman’s body still require progesterone for proper function.
The world of hormone replacement therapy has become the Wild, Wild West. Anything goes....There is no oversight on what, when, and how doctors can prescribe HRT. Additionally, there is no set standard of care, uniform treatment protocols, or central data bases of adverse patient outcomes at the hands of inexperienced health care practitioners.
With this understanding, women must be careful, stay vigilant, and do their research before simply choosing any doctor with whom to partner to achieve hormone balance.
If you're struggling to find a competent healthcare practitioner or if you're currently on HRT and feel no better or even worse, schedule a consultation with me HERE.