You know, people didn’t always talk about menopause out in the open. When I first became an Obstetrician/Gynecologist 30 years ago, the word “menopause” wasn’t spoken out loud. The word “perimenopause” didn’t exist. Women suffered in silence. The severity of their symptoms was ignored. People made jokes about menopausal women which weren’t funny and were very demeaning. Now, at least we are talking out loud about menopause and hormonal transitions, although the medical establishment keeps sending mixed messages about treatment.
Which brings me to my next thought: This year, 2012, marks the 10th anniversary of the sensational news blast release of the results of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) in July 2002. The WHI was supposed to be the definitive study of the effects of hormones on women’s health, but it was a disaster. Poorly conceived, using medications (Premarin and Provera) that should be banned from the market, the study results were completely misunderstood. Now, 10 years later, after scaring millions of women and their doctors into stopping life-giving treatments, there has been a 180 degree about face. Climacteric, the journal of the International Menopause Society, devoted an entire edition (June, 2012) to the new view that maybe hormones aren’t so bad, and maybe they even do some good.
What we in the field of healthy aging have known all along is that hormones can be used safely, that they have tremendous benefits, and they improve the quality of life of the users. From improved brain function, thinking ability, speed of brain processing, and improved moods to decreased cardiovascular risk, to lower risk of Alzheimers, hormones have proven benefits that have been shown in numerous studies.
Now, all we have to do it to spread the “new word” about hormones and menopause.