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The Pros and Cons of Hormone Therapy

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One thing about life is that it is always subject to change. So much so, that when women begin to go through menopause, it is referred to as “the change.” I wonder, without all the modern conveniences, how did women living though this period in their lives make it? There are the hot flashes, mood swings and vaginal problems that put a damper on the normal stride of life.

Medical advances like hormone therapy were a staple of medical procedure in treating women in this area. But again, as with all else, this too changed. In 2002, a clinical study was done called the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). This study indicated that hormone therapy was possibly more dangerous than helpful to women as previously thought. Immediately, there was fallout to this medical darling. Up to two-thirds of women stopped taking hormones and many doctors stopped prescribing them as well.

But what really are the risks?

What did the study find?

For one, estrogen is still the “most effective” option for menopausal symptoms according to Mayo Clinic. Studies have shown that estrogen deters bone deterioration (osteoporosis), decreases the development of colorectal cancer and lowers the risk of heart disease, specifically in younger, postmenopausal women.

However, the risks the WHI clinical trial revealed were when women use estrogen-progestin combination, chances of developing conditions such as heart disease (in older postmenopausal women), breast cancer, stroke and blood clots increased. There was even an increase in abnormal mammograms. For women taking estrogen alone, women experienced an increase in stroke, blood clots in the legs as well as more mammography abnormalities.

Should one avoid hormone therapy altogether then? Not necessarily. If you have breast cancer, heart disease or problems with blood clots – then no, hormone therapy is not for you. Talk to your doctor about which medications are best for you in order to control menopausal symptoms. However, the same WHI trial suggests not avoiding hormone therapy altogether, but making adjustments so as to prevent risks from developing.

Add a Comment4 Comments

Lane, thank you for your elaboration and comments. I checked out your website and will most definitely get your book. I noticed that the co-author is a doctor in my area, Dr. Jonathan Wright. I am excited to read more. I'm curious about your take on the Wiley Protocol. When I first proposed it to my doctor several months ago, she had just heard about it and we were both excited to try it out. So far, we've had positive experiences but we are still learning about it. When I went digging for more information to help me in using it, I learned that there is great opposition to it... almost a WAR against it. In fact, on this very site, when I reported positive experiences with it, I was attacked and continue to be harrassed with each comment. These people are saying that it has caused damage to many women and that there are lawsuits, and other such scare tactics, but other than the very sites they've set up themselves, I can't find any valid substantiation to their claims and I am feeling quite angry with them almost to the point of making sure that the Wiley Protocol works for me. However, other than my own personal health and well being, I have no interest in proving anything to anyone. Since I haven't yet read your book, I'm curious right now if you can comment on the Wiley Protocol.

December 29, 2009 - 8:27pm

The cons you cite about HRT are true and unfortunate, but apply only to non-bioidentical hormone-like drugs, like Premarin and progestins -- the ones used in the WHI and other big studies. First, there is no such hormone as "estrogen." There are many different types of estrogen. Premarin (conjugated equine estrogens -- CEEs -- derived from horse urine) contains a mixture of estrogens completely different from the estrogens produced by the human body in terms of molecular form, quantity, and potency. The human body is not designed to metabolize horse estrogens, which accounts for many of the dangerous and disturbing effects produced by CEEs. Second, there is no such hormone as "progestin." All progestins are manmade versions of bioidentical progesterone. The progestin Provera (used in Prempro) has well documented toxicty, including breast cancer and heart disease; progesterone does not. As with CEEs, the human body is not deigned to metabolize progestins, just progesterone. Despite what you hear from the FDA and other "authorities," bioidentical estrogens and progesterone, when used properly -- eg, correct proportions of human estrogens, applied topically, not orally, etc -- carry none of the risks of patented HRT -- Prempro, etc. There's plenty of good solid research to support the safe use of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). It's all summarized in a new book -- with a Foreword by Suzanne Somers -- (http://stayyoungandsexy.com/) by the doctor who invented BHRT 25+ years ago. Don't suffer through menopause and afterwards needlessly. Used properly, BHRT can help you retain your youthful hormones and stay young and sexy -- with none of the health risks of conventional patented HRT.

December 23, 2009 - 10:13am

Thank you for this article. I am a menopausal women who has opted for HRT. I've done enough research to decide on bio-identical hormones and the method I've chosen is a topical cream delivery with a rhythmic dosage instead of a static dosage. I am surprised, however, at the controversy surrounding the method I've chosen which is called The Wiley Protocol. Interestingly enough, those who oppose it don't attack the method, they attack the inventor, T.S. Wiley. But to tell you the truth, I don't care if the inventor of this method has credentials or not. I just like the fact that someone else has come up with a simple way for me to manage this difficult season of my life. The Wiley Protocol is just a system of delivery and dosage. It's not a manufactured chemical that I ingest or inject. To me, it's like someone has created a better way for me to get to work. "Here, instead of taking this route, why don't you cut off half your commute and take that route?" I mean I've already decided on natural bio-identical hormones (which can't be patented by the big pharmaceutical companies, btw), I just needed a way to track and manage the dosage and delivery. Thus, The Wiley Protocol has become my answer.

December 23, 2009 - 9:31am
(reply to nanashana)

Good for you!

December 23, 2009 - 10:27am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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