Here, Dr. Ring describes why bioidentical hormone therapy is controversial.
One of the big controversies in bioidentical hormone therapy is the duration of therapy. If we look at the North American Menopause Society recommendations that came out in 2008, the newest recommendation looking at the information says that for many women, the benefits outweigh the risks if they use hormone therapy around the time of menopause, whether it’s bioidentical or not.
So, that’s important because this is different from the Women’s Initiative that came out a few years ago that said, “Oh, there are all these risks,” and everybody stopped the hormones and were still having symptoms. So they are saying, “Okay, now, for many women it’s a good idea and it can be helpful, especially for treating the symptoms.
Where it becomes a little murky is how long to continue and this is where you see a divurgence. In many conventional, western trained practices, they’ll say, “You take it for the symptoms for a few years and then you stop.” And then there is the other side, which is more of the anti-aging approach that hormones help keep your body young. They help keep the skin young, they help keep your bones strong, and therefore we should continue them for really, the rest of your life, and that’s a big issue and one that I talk to women about on a really individual basis because certainly the longer we’re exposed to those hormones, the more the risk of estrogen dependent tumors or diseases. But at the same time, there are benefits to those hormones.
When women, you know, a few hundred years ago, women would go through menopause at age 50 and then they’d die when they were 51. So they didn’t live a long time without hormones. Now, if we’re living to our 90s, that’s a long time to go without hormones that were there doing a lot of wonderful things for our body.
About Dr. Ring, M.D.:
Melinda Ring, M.D., is an Integrative Medicine physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Dr. Ring believes the patient and physician are partners in the healing process. She uses evidence-based approaches from other cultures to complement Western medicine treatment and stimulates the body's innate healing abilities. Her philosophy embraces treating the whole person, physical, emotional and spiritual dimensions, to achieve optimal health. Dr. Ring received her medical degree from the University of Chicago/Pritzker School of Medicine and has been practicing medicine since 1997.