Do you really understand hormone replacement therapy and whether it could be right for you? If you are a woman, deciding whether or not to take estrogen at the time of menopause is not a throw-away choice. It’s one of the most important decisions you will make that will affect your health for the rest of your life, according to Dr. Mache Seibel, MD, a global leader in women’s wellness and menopause.
Based on his research, including personal conversations with researchers around the world, Seibel believes that for most women, the correct question is not “Should I take HRT?”
The question is “When is the right time for me to start estrogen therapy to protect my health, or is it already too late?”
Hormones are chemical messengers that carry instructions from the brain to organs and systems throughout your body. Estrogen is often referred to as a woman’s sex hormone because it plays a significant role in sexual function and childbearing.
In addition to your uterus, estrogen affects many other aspects of your health including your heart, brain, bones and skin. So deciding for or against HRT is more than a question of reproductive or sexual health. It’s a decision that affects your whole body.
If you’ve been considering HRT, you’ve probably come across references to the Women’s Health Initiative or WHI study. That research changed the history of women’s medicine. When the results were first published in 2002, the study appeared to show that the risks outweighed the potential benefits. (1, 2)
The 2002 WHI report still dictates many women’s response to HRT over 14 years later, despite more recent studies and re-evaluations of the 2002 WHI data that offer different conclusions.
One key aspect not considered in the initial WHI report was the timing of when HRT was started relative to the start of menopause. Women receiving estrogen in the study were typically between age 60 and 79 with many suffering from other health complaints, while women in the control group who received placebo were largely in their 50s and in good health. (1, 2)