Since I wrote “New Information for Women. Period.” on this blog, I have been contacted by a number of women who are interested in learning more about menopausal hormone therapy.
Note: The new term is “menopausal hormone therapy,” not “hormone replacement therapy,” because nothing is being replaced, as such. Estrogen (and progesterone in women with an intact uterus) are usually being provided as a therapy.
I have found myself lingering in the produce section at the local grocery store on at least three occasions chatting with folks about this topic. I’ve had messages from people who have had hysterectomies and sometimes even oophorectomies (ovary removal) who have been given very little information about hormone therapy. (Wrap your head around the fact that another term for “oopherectomy” is “female castration.”)
Women are speaking in muted tones in grocery store aisles and over coffee with their friends about the fact that their sex drive is gone, their mental and physical health is suffering and they are in pain. It breaks my heart.
I have spoken to women who have developed severe symptoms during perimenopause (the period of time preceding menopause which can last up to 10 years) who are often struggling and suffering with both physical and psychological symptoms.
This is a health issue that affects physical and mental health. It affects personal well-being, families and relationships, and workplace engagement and productivity.
Even though HT has been proven safe, effective and even proactive in terms of protecting our brains, hearts and bones from disease as we age, it is still a taboo topic.
Dr. Louise Newson is a doctor in the U.K. who has a thriving women’s health clinic. She has a wonderful, informative website and podcast. Dr. Newson’s website also provides information on the Balance App, which is a fantastic resource which allows you to track your symptoms, access resources and create a health report to bring to your health care professional.
All of Dr. Newson’s podcast episodes are well researched and engaging. Her guests range from a woman who has been successfully taking hormone therapy for 50 years to a “mindfulness and menopause” segment. Here is a link to the episode where she explores the devastating effect of the WHI study on women’s health with Dr. Rob Langer, a researcher and physician who was involved with the study at the time and has spoken out about its misinterpretation since:
The damage that was done by the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study that was released in 2002 has yet to be completely undone. And we need to be talking about it.
I started hormone therapy in the spring of 2020 after ovarian failure from cancer treatments. Before I started this therapy, I was not sleeping. I was anxious to the point of panicking on a daily basis. My mood swings were so intense that I felt like my personality had completely changed. I had numerous physical symptoms such as night sweats and hot flashes. I was having heart palpitations.
Months after my treatments had ended, these symptoms were still present. And then Dad sent me an article, I started reading about the effects of premature ovarian failure on women, and I realized that many of my symptoms were probably related to my chemotherapy-induced menopause.
I had to research and advocate to get hormone therapy, which is recommended by the Canadian Association of Gynecologists and Obstetricians:
Hormone therapy (HT) is sometimes prescribed to boost hormone levels and provide relief. Because it has been the subject of much controversy, many women wonder if HT is a good option for them. The Managing Menopause Clinical Practice Guideline 2014 published by the SOGC recommends that doctors offer HT in the appropriate dose, and for the duration necessary, as the most effective treatment for troubling menopause symptoms. Current research confirms that HT is both a safe and effective way to treat symptoms of menopause in women within ten years of natural menopause. There is no absolute limit for the length of time you can take HT. Your health care provider can help you understand the risks and benefits of different treatments.Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada
I’d just like to highlight the fact that the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada recommends Hormone Therapy as the “most effective treatment for troubling menopause symptoms.” They also highlight the fact that it is safe, and recommend that it be offered to women who experience premature ovarian failure for different medical reasons.
Women are often offered SSRI medications to help alleviate the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, but it is now recognized that HT is a safe, viable alternative which will treat the root cause of the problem.
Hormone therapy restored my mental health and allowed me to sleep again. I cannot imagine what would have happened to me if I had not been able to access it. I ran out of refills on my HT prescription just before the Christmas holidays and had to do some back and forth with my doctor’s office to get my prescription filled. Asher was up and out to pick it up before I even had to ask. ‘Nuff said!!
New learning for today: If you are suffering from symptoms of perimenopause or menopause, consider doing some tracking with the “balance app” and discussing options with your doctor. See a counsellor who is well-versed in women’s issues so that you can explore your emotions and symptoms. Wearing hair shirts and self-flagellating went out of style in the 16th century. Refuse to suffer!!
Book Therapy: The Menopause Manifesto by (Canadian) Dr. Jen Gunter
I’m grateful for: Hormones. Period.