Menopause is more common than infertility, pregnancy or cancer. It eventually affects every woman. By 2020, more than 50 million US women will be older than 51 years of age, which is the mean age of menopause.
Yet the majority of women avoid menopause treatment of the symptoms of menopause. Only a small percentage use hormone therapy (HT) for menopause treatment. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, 80% fewer women use HT today than in 2002.
After speaking with hundreds of women across the country as part of my book tour for The Estrogen Window, and caring for over 10,000 women as they transition into, through and beyond menopause, I’ve discovered three consistent reasons why women avoid menopause treatment.
1. Fear, Myths and Confusion. Before 2002, Hormone Therapy (HT) and estrogen in particular, was the most commonly prescribed medicine in the United States. Women went into menopause and received menopause treatment with HT and their symptoms were under control.
In 2002 the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study incorrectly reported that HT caused breast cancer, heart disease and more. Women panicked and so did their doctors. HT went from being the most commonly prescribed medicine in the United States to becoming a feared treatment by both patients and doctors.
More than a decade and a half after the original WHI was reported, that original data was re-evaluated and the truth came out: HT was safe and beneficial for menopause treatment in most women. It only looked like it caused problems due to a flaw in the study design.
Here’s what happened.
The women who began their HT in their 60s and 70s had statistically more problems than the women who began their HT between the ages of 50 to 59 or within 10 years of entering menopause if they went into it before age 50. In the 2002 WHI, 75% of the women began HT in their 60s and 70s. Women who began taking estrogen in their 50s actually had a reduction in breast cancer and heart disease risk, and women who took any form of HT lived longer than women who took a placebo.
That flawed study design caused women and their doctors to experience fear and confusion. The original report made huge headlines. The follow up stories that cleared things up never got much press. You can get all the details, which hormone to take, when to start it and how long to take it by reading my best selling book, The Estrogen Fix. When you finish reading the book, you can become a partner in your healthcare.
2. Women believe they should be able to tough it out. The second reason women don’t treat menopause symptoms is because of this phrase. I’ve heard it so many times.
But why? Why should women tough out and endure the symptoms of menopause when they can figure it out and get safe treatment? And in addition to the obvious symptoms you can’t miss, like hot flashes or mood swings, there are also “silent symptoms” like osteoporosis and heart disease that can lead to serious complications.
We now know that estrogen is safe and effective for most women. But for those who either will not or cannot take HT, there are a growing number of HT alternatives that include prescription non-estrogens, over the counter options, lifestyle changes, and complementary treatments. The trick is to figure it out so you won’t have to tough it out. You can get regular updates and information to help you in The Hot Years magazine, available at no cost for all digital formats at HotYearsMag.com.
3. Women consider menopause a negative label. Although menopause is just a normal life transition like puberty or pregnancy, many women have told me being in menopause makes them feel old, unattractive, or less desirable. So what should we call menopause to make it more acceptable? What do you think?
It’s time to stop letting other people define you. It’s time to not feel trapped by a label. What can we call menopause to make it a badge of wisdom and experience?
The benefits of treating the symptoms of menopause are huge. It’s one of the things I discuss with both patients and those who ask me to coach them.
If you know the facts you can consider estrogen and HT. And if you don’t want to use HT, then consider one of the many alternatives. There is no honor in suffering needlessly. And even if you feel the term menopause makes you feel old, treating its symptoms will almost certainly make you healthier, feel better and live longer.
Please share this with a friend who might benefit and leave a comment.