HRT and menopause

I listen to a lot of material about menopause and extensively from Dr Louise Newson of Newson Health Menopause & Wellbeing Centre in Stratford-upon-Avon.

I trust Dr Newson – she’s a leading specialist in her field, and so I’m happy to summarise what she says about HRT, which is so confusing to most of us. There are millions of pages on the internet about it, many of which conflict with each other.

To sum up, HRT is safe – for the majority.

There are, of course, exceptions. Some women can’t have HRT, but for those who can, and you may be surprised to learn how many, HRT is a safe option.

Back in 2002, the Women’s Health Initiative was commenced. This involved thousands of women who were put on oestrogen and progestogen combined. Many were older ladies, some in their 60s, so beyond the usual ‘window’ for starting HRT. Some had a history of cardiovascular disease, clots, some were obese, some were smokers, and so on. The study was halted prematurely because of a leak from the press giving misinformation, which, unfortunately, has stuck giving rise to 50% of women stopping immediately at the time. But many of the ladies participating were high risk anyway and had they approached a menopause specialist today, their prescription would have been very different.

The real position is this. Countless combinations of HRT are available, all tailored uniquely. Menopause can show up for many reasons, at any age, so we need to know our options.

If there’s a history showing a compromise to health, there’s more often than not a perfectly safe HRT blend to suit. Whereas once upon a time, women with a history of clots couldn’t be prescribed HRT, they now can, as long as it’s not in pill form. For women who are progesterone-intolerant, it can be inserted vaginally which appears to reduce or remove the intolerance. There are numerous solutions to problems and so women need not suffer at all.

If you’ve heard differently, I can confirm that HRT NOT made from pregnant mare’s urine is widely available! And body-identical HRT is recommended as they’re licensed and regulated in the UK.

More worrying than risks from HRT are that a couple of glasses of wine a night, and/or being obese, and/or smoking, and/or having a poor diet, and/or not exercising, increases the risk of breast cancer more than taking HRT.

Whatever the situation, every single woman who’s interested in starting HRT to reduce symptoms and safeguard her future health, should receive a comprehensive consultation, with the practitioner working to NICE Guidelines, and where she is fully informed, has all her questions answered and so can make an educated decision. She should be monitored regularly and be reassured about emerging symptoms if they arise.

HRT gives protection against osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, (possibly) Alzeimer’s, all of which we’re at risk of post-menopause.

Food for thought? Please seek professional advice about HRT. It could change your life.

I’m not a qualified clinician, dietician, or psychologist, or anything! I write based only on my own experiences, personal views, and research into menopause. Please always seek the advice of a professional. Jacky Wood

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