Women's Hormone Replacement Therapy - Are You In Balance?
By Jackie L. Harvey
It has been over ten years since the Women's Health Initiative Estrogen plus Progestin (WHI) arm of this large trial was stopped early because it caused harm. The WHI showed the opposite of what was expected--Estrogen (Premarin) plus Progestin (Provera) caused heart disease and breast cancer as well as blood clots and strokes. WHI results revealed that estrogen did not improve the quality of life for women. WHI estrogen plus progestin results are "evidence-based."
We now have evidence-based proof that "HRT" is harmful to women. But people are still taking Hormone Replacement Therapy and are concerned about estrogen deficiency. Why? "Little has changed because the fundamental, negative ideas about women and about menopause have not changed. Universal menopausal hormone therapy ... (is) based on a cultural belief that women are inferior and need fixing. For over twenty years I have been saying that menopause is a natural part of women's life cycle, the low estrogen levels after menopause are healthy and not abnormal. This made me unpopular--I have been labeled as "way-out" or worse. Therefore the WHI results for me were a vindication", says Jerilynn C. Prior BA, MD, FRCPC Professor of Endocrinology, Scientific Director, Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research, University of British Columbia. And, she is correct.
Over ten years after the WHI study little has changed. If you go to your doctor today and request HRT most will prescribe it for you. Despite the fact that The Women's Health Initiative, the largest controlled trial of ovarian hormone therapy ever performed, provided the strongest proof that Medicine (which has been strongly influenced by the Pharmaceutical Industry) causes harm for women. The website for the WHI study said, "Women should stop their study drugs immediately." Following that order led to hot flushes in many women who were on hormone therapy because their body had adjusted to that higher level of estrogen. Women who heard the news of the study in the media also often stopped their therapy abruptly. That led to severe hot flushes in hundreds of thousands of women and in virtually all women who had previously experienced them. "Because it is well known that rapid withdrawal from estrogen causes night sweats and hot flushes, all physicians should have been ready with advice for women wanting to stop estrogen." Says Dr. Prior.
For Lack of helpful information, and because the resulting symptoms of night sweats/hot flushes were so miserable, many women, in desperation, reluctantly restarted unwanted HRT treatment. It seems logical to now say that the WHI results require re-thinking of the concepts on which menopausal "replacement" and "estrogen deficiency" were based. The primary assumption that all women needed estrogen because they were deficient still needs to be addressed. I like what Dr. Susan Love said, "If estrogen deficiency is a disease, all men have it!" Destroying the concept of estrogen deficiency will be hard and may take many years to achieve. In the mean time where does that leave you and I?
Estrogen Dominance not estrogen deficiency, according to Dr. John Lee is at the crux of our dilemma and bringing our hormones back into balance will be the key to hormonal health.
STEP 1. Become informed. The "Let's Talk About Hormones" DVD provides valuable information on hormone balancing. Dr. Lee's "What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause" has just been updated. Information is the key to your power!
STEP 2. Evaluate your own hormones with a saliva test whether you are on hormones currently or not. Find out if you have adequate hormone levels or are truly deficient.
STEP 3. Work with someone who understands the issues. Dr. Lee felt that most women can themselves oversee their hormonal challenges. If you must select a health care provider choose one who like Dr. Prior says, "I will never again prescribe estrogen as a pill. There is now overwhelming controlled trial evidence that pill forms of estrogen cause unacceptably high rates of clots and perhaps, through clotting, also increased strokes and heart disease. There are not yet strong data but it is likely that estrogen given through the skin (as a gel, cream or patch) will be less likely to activate liver clotting factors and thus safer. To me it means "bio-identical" or "natural" kinds of estrogen and progesterone both given in physiological doses."
STEP 4. Just know that balancing hormones is not just about taking additional hormones but about diet and lifestyle changes. I believe that we have a unique opportunity, right now, as women on every anniversary of the initial WHI results. We can become pro-active about our own hormone health and share with those women around us who are struggling with their hormone challenges. Women reaching out to other women will have a greater effect than waiting for the research to catch up. Each of us must practice living with these important ideas. Then hormonal health will be ours.
This Article Is Copyright 2007 Jackie L. Harvey & Saliva Testing.com
Jackie Harvey is a nutritional speaker who shares her interest and information on hormonal health and women's saliva hormone testing throughout North America in her popular "Let's Talk About Hormones" seminar. Visit Jackie's informative website SalivaTesting.com for a schedule of events in your area and for more information about her Best Selling 1-hour DVD "Let's Talk About Hormones with Jackie Harvey".