Hormone Therapy at menopause is still a confusing area for most women. Since the publication of the World Health Initiative Report in 2002, women have been conflicted about Hormone Therapy. Is it the miracle medication to support you through menopause or is it the scary cause of breast cancer and blood clots?
If you search for information, you can find both sides of the argument. The advice is bewildering at a time when you want straight answers.
My guest this week on the Hot Women Rock Radio show, Dr. Rachel Cady, is the director of the Menopause and Healthy Aging Program at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby, MInnesota. She is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and an active member of the North American Menopause Society.
Her areas of expertise include menopause care, sexual medicine, vulvar disorders, pelvic pain, pelvic floor rehab/incontinence and minimally invasive surgery. She is passionate about providing collaborative care for patients.
In our conversation we sought to answer the most frequently asked questions and clear away the fog that surrounds this subject.
Dr Rachel’s Story
After Dr Rachel Cady left Medical School and completed her residency in obstetrics and gynaecology, like most new physicians she felt that she did not feel qualified to address menopause issues.
“I realised that I had delivered a lot of babies and performed hysterectomies. But as far as menopause midlife care, it was definitely lacking. Fortunately, for those who are interested there’s a lot of post residency training and I just found that passion. I really enjoyed it and I have huge admiration for people who came before me, leading the way in menopause medicine for what is the fastest growing segment of our population here in the US.
The symptoms of menopause can be complicated. If I can be a guide on somebody’s journey, or at least, giving them the right directions, the accurate sources to go to, then that’s my goal. Typically, I’ll start seeing women in their early 40s and when often they don’t know that they’re experiencing perimenopausal symptoms.
First and foremost there’s a big myth that if you are still having menopause cycles then you are not in perimenopause. Women say, ‘I’m not really getting hot flashes but I’m feeling more irritated and I’m not sleeping well.’ They’ve started getting these different types symptoms. To be clear, not everything is estrogen related but oftentimes it is. Some women aren’t even aware of the term perimenopause because it’s simply not talked about.
There’s no clear path for menopause education. It isn’t taught at school or in pre-natal classes.
Symptoms typically will manifest about five to seven years before the actual onset of menopause and women can wonder, ‘What’s going on with me? Is it something hormonal?’ The short answer is many times, ‘Yes’, and we start down that workout.
9 Top Tips on Hormone Therapy from Dr Rachel Cady
- Be informed about menopause. Access accurate information from trusted sources such as the British Menopause Society, North American Menopause Society, Cleveland Clinic
- Take ownership of your health. Don’t waste your money on fads and gimmicks.
- Talk to your doctor about how long you should stay on hormone therapy particularly if there is any change in your health.
- Hormone therapy taken early can protect bone and heart health and against some forms of cancer.
- If you want to stop taking hormone therapy do it gradually over several months.
- There are different formulations of hormone therapy. Some are made from mares’ urine which is a mix of several types of oestrogen. Most practitioners prefer to prescribe Estradiol which mimics our own body’s estradiol. There are also different forms of progesterone such as Prometrium. Talk to your medical practitioner about what formulation and delivery system is right for you.
- Bio-identical hormone therapy are compounds made in pharmacies. They are formulated in laboratories and are no more ‘natural’ than hormone therapy from your medical practitioner. Many are unregulated.
- For some women hormone therapy is contraindicated and there are new medications that are not based on hormones.
- Menopause symptoms go on after menopause. It’s not just hot flushes. Don’t ignore symptoms such as extreme pain with intercourse, incontinence, joint pain, dry skin and thinning hair.
If you need more support for your perimenopause or menopause contact me today.