hormone replacement therapy

Got Menopause and Afraid of Hormone Therapy?

If you are like many perimenopausal women, you may be suffering from insomnia, emotional highs and lows, hot flashes, brain fog, dry vagina and other challenging, quality of life-changing symptoms.

So why are so many women suffering?  Most of them are afraid of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Today it is often referred to as hormone therapy (HT) or menopausal hormone therapy (MHT).  I speak with so many women who feel like an alien has taken over their body. They are struggling at work and in their marriages, but they will not even discuss taking HRT with their healthcare providers. They are convinced that they will get breast cancer or drop dead of a heart attack.

Why are they so afraid of HRT?  Most of them heard the sound bites and information that was reported about the early termination of a WHI (Women’s Health Initiative) study in 2002 on hormone replacement therapy, which erroneously indicated that HRT caused heart attacks and breast cancer. This reporting led doctors to immediately stop prescribing HRT. Many women kicked their HRT to the curb. Duck — dangerous mood swings ahead……….!

Professor Robert D Langer, one of the principal investigators in the WHI, in a paper titled, “The evidence base for HRT: what can we believe?”, raises serious questions about the ‘facts’ that have led women and their doctors to believe hormone therapy is unsafe.

Professor Langer says that the distorted reporting of the WHI findings triggered a sensationalized cascade of fear and the flight from appropriate use of HRT. He reports that, in an unprecedented departure from accepted practice, the incendiary initial results paper was written by a small group of individuals and kept secret from the vast majority of scientists in whose names it was submitted until after it was accepted by the journal. The unfortunate result was that the paper misrepresented the findings, and made inflammatory claims that were not supported by the data when viewed according to the pre-established study protocol—which was largely abandoned in this and subsequent reports.

Professor Langer also points out the following:

The WHI was conducted to test if the benefits that had been seen in women starting HRT near menopause would be found in women starting this treatment a decade or so after going through menopause, and that the study purposely did not include enough recently menopausal women to assess outcomes in that age group.

The initial results were generalized from the older women to younger women, twisting the logic of the study in a scientifically inappropriate manner.