The medical community has had an on-again, off-again relationship with female hormone replacement. Used to combat the side affects of menopause, doctors and women want to be sure it’s safe.
“Well it’s gone back to where it was initially before the big study, Women’s Health Study; it is acceptable now. If you want good quality of life, that’s one of the options for you if you’re really being affected by it,” says Dr. Mala Singh, family practitioner with Lee Memorial Health System.
This time around, doctors are proceeding with caution. Studies find the best risk ratio is when hormone replacement is started in women under 59 years old or within 10 years of menopause. The focus is on safety first, screening patients who are at low risk for complications.
“I would say talk to your primary care doctors, talk to your ob-gyn, because everyone is different, everyone is an individual, everyone has a different medical history. So this is not something for everybody - it has to be very individualized,” says Dr. Singh.
In keeping with this individual approach, some women are taking it a step further, opting to personalize treatment, using custom-mixed hormones that are chemically identical to those your body produces.
“I would order a panel of labs - all the estrogen, progesterone, prolactin, testosterone levels - and then I would do bio-identical hormones. Those are creams. And what’s great about the creams is you can just modify them yourself. When you use the cream you use them on your wrist and patients realize’ ok I feel this is a little too much for me’ and they can cut it down on themselves,” says Dr. Singh.
Bioidenticals are plant-based but commercially processed. While there’s no evidence they are any more effective, more women are seeking them out.
“It’s a general trend. People don’t want medication, they want more natural things and the reaction, the side effects, so they prefer the bio-identical,” says Dr. Singh.
HRT is not recommended for women with: active or past breast or endometrial cancer, history of blood clots or stroke, or liver disease.
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Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we’ve been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.