Hormone Therapy: A Marketing Disaster


One of my (many) pet peeves is to hear the words “Estrogen is toxic”. As a woman who lives full of three different types of estrogen that naturally occur in my female body,  I take offense to that. 

Every woman will experience menopause at some point. Symptoms can be mild where the woman barely experiences any discomfort, or as is true for a large percentage of women, symptoms can be very bothersome. Some women come into my office in tears stating that they can’t sleep, can’t think, can’t control their emotions and that they are concerned about their job and relationships. Menopause can affect every aspect of a woman’s life. 

The cause of all these symptoms is a quite dramatic decline in the function of one of our major endocrine organs, the ovaries. Hormone levels quickly decline and become out of balance and this triggers multiple symptoms.

Common symptoms include: Hot flashes/flushes, night sweats, interrupted sleep, emotional changes, memory changes, irritability, lower sex drive, weight gain,skin changes, hair changes, heart palpitations, anxiety, and many more. 

Over 90% of symptoms can be resolved very quickly when proper hormone replacement therapy is begun. Unfortunately, many women have been scared away from hormone therapy and often choose to suffer or be treated with medications such as anxiety meds, sleeping pills, anti-depressants, neurological meds and others. These meds may help some of the symptoms but those meds also come with quite a list of potential side effects. Why not fix the real issue? Why not use Hormone therapy?

In 2002 the notorious Women’s Health Initiative study published results stating, among other things, that hormone therapy might be responsible for increased breast cancer rates in women. Everyone heard “increased breast cancer rates” and as a result almost every woman in America was pulled off hormone therapy or told to never start hormone therapy.

Today we know the story really was not told correctly and in fact has done women much harm. The reality is that even on synthetic hormones the women on estrogen only had a decrease in breast cancer and only the women who were also on synthetic progesterone had an increase in breast cancer. The take away? Do not use synthetic progesterone.

In 2008 in France the Journal of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment did a study and concluded that there was no increased risk of breast cancer with the use of bio-identical progesterone but that the use of synthetic progesterone or progestins may increase the risk of breast cancer.

In 2012 The British Medical Journal published a study after looking at 10 years of data and stated that “ women receiving hormone replacement therapy early after menopause had significantly decreased risk of mortality, heart failure or myocardial infarction (heart attack) without any apparent increased risk of cancer, venous thromboembolism or stroke”.

The American Journal of Public Health in their July 18, 2013 publication noted that “avoidance of all forms of hormone therapy is persistent despite the positive findings for treatment with estrogen alone”. They go so far as to say “ Our analysis suggests that failure to differentiate among populations of women and preparations of hormone therapy has cost thousands of lives”.

They also stated “over a 10 year span starting in 2002, a minimum of 18,601 and as many as 91,610 postmenopausal women died prematurely because of the avoidance of estrogen therapy....Informed discussion between the women and their health care providers about the effects of estrogen therapy is a matter of considerable urgency”.

There is very little data published looking at QUALITY of life for women with menopause but for many women quality is the key. And by quality I mean, getting good rest, having good energy, being able to enjoy your relationships, and over all feeling well.

What does effective hormone treatment do?

stop hot flashes and night sweats

slow the aging process 

aid with sexual function

Help maintain a healthy weight

keep our bones strong

Help our hearts

keep our mind sharp

help us sleep well and deal with stress

While some women are lucky enough to barely notice the changes of menopause, most women experience significant undesirable life changes. Research as well as societies like the North American Menopause Society and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology agree, if you have bothersome menopause symptoms, the use of hormone therapy is the appropriate treatment. 

Fix what is out of balance and you will soon be saying “I feel like myself again”. 

Karen Hanson2 Comments