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Menopause without HRT

Posted by
Susan
(moqui51@aol.com) on
Tue, Apr 3, 01 at 8:18

Is there anyone out there who does not take HRT? I have two neighbors who do not, and I have just started menopause and so far am taking nothing. What are the risks of not taking HRT? I take my calcium, and Vit e and use lots of soy. So far my Dr. has not mentioned anything, but maybe by next year things will change as I have just started menopause.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Menopause without HRT

There are no risks in NOT taking post menopausal hormones. The risk lies in TAKING them. If you are not already paying attention to lifestyle issues this is certainly the time to start. If you smoke, quit. If you are overweight eat a balanced diet and try to lose weight through reducing your total caloric intake and exercise. A report issued last week showed that walking for 1-2 hours a WEEK cut your risk of heart disease in half. If you have high blood pressure make sure it's well controlled. If you have diabetes again make sure your blood sugar levels are well controlled. Weightbearing exercise like walking, especially race-walking, will protect your bones.

Very simple things can be used to relieve the more annoying signs of menopause should you have them. See the website in this message for tips and more information than you may have ever wanted about menopause. This is a totally non-commercial website which takes no money from anyone. www.oxford.net/~tishy/beyond.html


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RE: Menopause without HRT

I believe that Leigh, in her anti-hormone mission, is presenting things in a simplified way that doesn't necessarily apply to all women.

Any given woman's risk factors depend on her overall state of health at menopause, her inherited balance of risks and health trend with age, and the amount of residual ovarian output she experiences after menopause. Women with relatively higher ovarian output (though still below the ovulatory threshold), higher endogenous production (there are a few parts of the body that go on producing estrone--notably belly fat), and/or high consumption of xenoestrogens are those who sail through their post-menopausal years with few complaints and little of the damage low estrogen levels can cause. Women at the low end of the scale or women in surgical menopause (no ovaries) may be rendered totally unable to function no matter how hard they try to buy the line that you can "rise above" menopausal symptoms with the right attitude and a handful of supplements.

Low estrogen levels are well demonstrated to be related to osteoporosis (modified by but also in spite of exercise & calcium), cardiovascular risks (yes, I read your other post Leigh, and feel that it is limited as well), macular degeneration, vision changes, tooth loss, a higher risk of colon cancer, vaginal atrophy, urinary incontinence and prolapse, memory, depression and mood, hair growth, insulin-sensitivity, libido, and thyroid function.

The need for supplemental hormones is something each woman must weigh for herself, in terms of her own body's particular needs. Simplistic answers are seductive, but ultimately unrealistic.

Susan, you need to sit down with your doctor and evaluate each of your personal risk factors as well as lifestyle and physical condition factors that will affect how much estrogen your body has and will continue to need to function. And bear in mind that this is not a this-date-only situation: this is something to monitor and revisit on at least an annual basis for the rest of your life. Many of the changes due to declining ovarian hormone levels are silent and develop slowly. Your ovaries don't just throw a switch to "off" but rather the level continues to change over time--along with your other endogenous and exogenous estrogen supplies.

Listen closely to your own body, and develop the best plan for yourself--not your neighbors and not anyone typing their agenda into a message board.

Framboise


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RE: Menopause without HRT

No drugs here. I'm 53, started with body changes at 38....for the most part have sailed through. I believe too, that estrogen is stored in body fat and helped me. I'd just like to know when it's suppose to be over.....I have most the symptoms, just try to live with them without any use of drugs.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Hi Susan - Just to let you know there are others going through menopause without HRT and I'm one of them. I'm fine at the moment but have had symptoms, the most noticeable was 3 months of intensive hot flushes which I managed to get through without anything.

I'm 52 and have had a hysterectomy and removal of one ovary, so have only one ovary left. Whether or not to take HRT is a personal choice and you need to do just what you feel is right for you.

Good luck
Joan


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RE: Menopause without HRT

First you need evidence that exogenous hormones are actually of any benefit in any of the "diseases" Framboise presents. That evidence simply does not exist. Where retrospective studies have apparently shown benefit, re-analysis has so frequently shown a well-woman bias in these studies that they are basically meaningless. The randomized control double-blinded studies are of far more use in assessing benefit and risk. The Women's Health Inititive (WHI) is the first such large scale study of this nature on healthy menopausal and post menopausal women. The initial results, as I've already posted, are not promising. You can get information on this study at the NIH gov. site.

Those who are surgically menopausal under age 40 *do* derive some benefit from hormone use, and I apologize for not making that distinction. However, many doctors now recommend that such women gradually taper off their hormones at the age of natural menopause. Susan Love's Hormone Book by Susan Love MD is an excellent and very readable source of very important information on menopause. Susan Brown's Better Bones Better Body and Sandra Coney's The Menopause Industry are also excellent sources for information especially about osteoporosis.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

BTW I'm 55, 6 + years post natural menopause. No hormones. 5'7" and 124 lbs so I don't think my body fat is making too much estrogen. Spent 6 years - 2 peri and 4 post with lots of hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and subclinical depression but now I can say in all honesty that I've never felt better in my life. Absolutely no health problems. I walk 5-7 miles a day with weights, work on my computer from home for the most part and enjoy my life with my husband of almost 30 years. I wouldn't go back to being 30 again for all the tea in China.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Agree with you Leigh, I wouldn't go back to being 30 again either. Life in the 50's can be terrific and the disturbances of menopause can and do wear off.

Got to say I envy you your figure though, I'm way off target on that but doing my walking, still enjoying my 31yr old marriage and work from home on my computer too. No health problems that I know of either.

Regards
Joan


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Some people don't want to spend 6 years of their life with hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia and subclinical depression. Most ladies on this post are searching for ways to minimize the discomforts of menopause. And since you don't mention any children, it appears that you have a lot of time to take long walks, work out with weights and cope with subclinical depression. Those of us with children and jobs outside the home don't have the time to walk 5 to 7 miles a day and work out with weights. We're too busy taking care of the family, doing laundry, washing dishes etc. While you're taking one of your long walks, how about developing some respect and tolerance for other people's points of view.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

I should add that my above post is directed to Leigh. The rest of you ladies are most polite, helpful and very tolerant of others.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

I don't really think anyone is putting down the people who take HRT. I think they just want us to know that we can go through menopause without it. Also, each person is different and if some can take the symptoms without HRT I don't think that is a bad thing. I just want to know what to expect if I don't take hormones. I read one Dr. said that she could tell by a woman's face who took HRT and who did not. Meaning that those on HRT had much better skin. I also think it is good to know what does help people who do not take HRT. Such as exercise, vitamins, etc. I want to know what worked for someone else. I was also curious about why some people do ok with no HRT and others stay on it. The Drs. aren't really helping us at all when it comes to menopause so I think we really have to find answers for ourselves.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Perhaps minimizing the discomforts of menopause isn't a healthy thing to do. Hot flashes/night sweats may be protective in some way - that's pure speculation on my part and I have no scientific basis for that speculation. As someone else pointed out insomnia is only a problem if you let it become one. Subclinical depression that is resolved by working through the underlying problem is depression that *you* now control.

Children? I'm 55. Both of my children are grown, finished college and out on their own.

My walks (with weights) take two hours a day. I don't watch TV, preferring to do useful things instead.

Funny thing, Grace, I wash dishes, do laundry, garden, work (albeit mostly from home). I also got my MA and did most of my PhD work during those 6 years, since that's when my daughter (the youngest) left home for college.

I suggest you develop a little respect for people whose world view includes taking care of their health without resorting to pills and potions. Susan asked about people who were not taking drugs for menopause. I provided *my* story


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RE: Menopause without HRT

I never wanted to take HRT. I got through the hot flashes pretty well. They were rather frequent but not so bad that I couldn't handle them. I actually felt rather good about not having to take hormones. Well, I started having UTI's and vaginal atrophy and the symptoms from this really had a terrible influence on my life. I started having trouble sleeping then I started getting depressed then another UTI with significant blood in my urine which freaked me out. Round and round with this stuff then the vaginal atrophy started giving me true misery. Well, not to bore with details and besides it is just more and more of the same. Then came HRT in the form of vaginal cream and prempro. Gradually there has been improvement to now I feel alot better than a year ago. Still, I wish i didn't need the HRT but i feel I can't go back to the day to day discomfort. I suppose we're all different.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

I am also not using hormones. Actually not synthetic hormones, I am using the wild yam gel for hot flashes and night sweats. I am very happy with this. There are days when this does not work very good and then I am on fire. But in general it works. What happens when the hot weather is coming (if it ever comes), I have no idea. Just started using the gel in winter.
The doctor also prescribed me dixarit, which is also helpful to stop the hot flashes.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Hi Willy - I can understand you might be worried about how you cope with hot flushes when the hot weather comes. My intensive hot flushes came on in our spring (New Zealand) so I was dismayed about how I would manage when the weather got really hot here in the summer.

Well the good news turned out to be that they disappeared as fast and dramatically as they had arrived right in the middle of summer. The fact that it was hot, didn't matter at all. I had three months of 40+ a day and night hot flushes and they've been gone now for 3 months too. Just saying that summer might not turn out to be as bad as you think.

Good Luck
Joan


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Hi everyone. I also understood that Susan was only asking what the people who didn't take hormone supplements what was their experience and would it harm her? I didn't take any offense at Leigh's posts. I am 54, past menopause, and don't take prescribed hormone replacement either. I still have occasional hot flashes, vaginal dryness, skin dryness, mood swings, etc.; but I resort to wild yam (as someone else posted) and black cohosh, and other natural things to help with these things. I don't always remember to take them (lol) but that is my own fault. I have 6 grown children, and 5 wonderful grandchildren. I don't work outside the home, but keep real busy with "chores" and gardening and sewing. I try to walk each day, (even if it's just a mile), and I try to watch what I eat. I did notice a weight gain after I was maybe half way through menopause. I've gone from 120lb. to 145lb. and I'd really like to take that off. I think menopause affects each woman differently, and we just have to all hang in there and be supportive of each other.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Hi all - So good to read all of your posts - life is an adventure! I read the book "What Your Dr. May Not Tell You About Menopause" by Dr. John Lee and it was excellent! I'm following those guidelines - using natural progesterone cream ( you get it at the health food store) and it's great! A healthy diet, exercise (which gives me More energy). My Mom (a great role-model) took hormones, but advised me against it after thoroughly studying it - she also said "After 50 you must develop a sense of humor"! I highly recommend the book - it has a wealth of info. in it. Good luck to us all!


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RE: Menopause without HRT

I've been away from the forum for a few days while my pc was being repaired. This is a great lively discussion to come back to. Thanks everyone for your posts.

I also agree with the idea that every woman needs to assess her own risk factors and decide about hormones for her self. It would be wonderful to have the assistance of a knowledgable doctor or other health care professional in this decision but many women are basically on their own.

The books suggested are excellent. Two others are: 1. "Screaming To Be Heard" by Elizabeth Vliet, MD. 2. "The Only Menopause Guide You'll Need", by Michele Moore, MD. The book store shelf is just jammed with titles on the subject of menopause.....go and read. BTW isnt it great that book stores provide easy chairs? I go and sit and read all I want before I decide to buy.

I am not using the usually prescribed HRT. I have a lot of Estrone in my body and am using prescription progesterone as a way to balance it.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Thanks for all the input so far. I really thought that hrt was a necessity, but wasn't sure why I felt that way. I just didn't know many women who did not go that route. I will have plenty to read on the subject now. I only have one friend who is going through what I term regular menopause as opposed to the type brought on by surgery. I was getting so jealous of everyone that I even started to ask my Dr. about surgery. I had some cysts on my ovaries and I figured just get rid of them an put me on hormones. LOL He refused. Luckily they dissolved and I am three months into my year that will mean menopause is over. Yipee! I have been told...be prepared to be surprised a few times. It usually doesn't just stop and never come back. But, that might be another subject.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

First let me say that I am perimenopausal. I come to this site so that I am better equipped to make a decision about treating menopause. I must say, however, that the HRT vs. Natural Means discussion we read about here and listen to on talk shows, etc. reminds me of the days when I was child-bearing. Everyone was into natural birth... having kids at home, etc. I had my first child natural because I felt so pressured by the "moment" to do what everyone thought was best for my body and child. My second child came with an epideral because I was in such pain from carrying in a breech position. Know what? It didn't matter...there was no advantage in either situation. I was happy to deliver on both accounts and my body and child turned out fine. I think there are similarities with the menopause discussion and those discussions years ago about natural birth. (By the way, natural deliveries are no longer as popular.) Women should not be made to feel guilty if they choose to take HRT. And, women who prefer the herbs, soy, etc. should not come off as heroines for resisiting the chemical approach.(I'm not suggesting that any of you who have posted here are, however,I do get the sense from some on TV, etc. that the attitude exists.) The issue of what's best for our bodies goes far beyond the 'NOW" and how we're feeling at 50-60 yrs of age.
My mother was diagnosed with Parkinsons Disease in her early 60's. She had a hysterectomy and never took HRT...during her time of change these discussions were not occuring.In fact, she says to me often "if only someone had told me about estrogen replacement". Since I am involved with her care and have researched PD, there is more and more evidence that women who do not take estrogen can be at risk for Parkinsons and possibly Altzeimers. I have great faith in the medicines available to the aging population. My parents would not be alive and able to live at home if it were not for the kinds of drugs available to them. While I'm not dead set on my decision, I do lean toward HRT because there is indication that it prevents other diseases as we grow old. What lies ahead in 10 years -post menopause? Modern science and research is developing drugs that will help our bodies over time and I think HRT is one of them. Let me close by saying that I have an aversion to taking pills. My husband has to force me to take a Tylenol. I take a host of vitamins and other natural elements to strengthen my body.I exercise regularly. The choice about HRT is a difficult one. Each woman must examine her own body, self and past medical history before making that decision.Once made, be assured by your decision, and do not let outside pressure groups influence or make you doubt that decision.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Very well expressed, Jane. I would add only one thing. The decision is not set in stone, it can be changed anytime as new information comes your way.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

I would add that there are many women (most perhaps) who take nothing. It isn't a choice between one type of treatment or another. It's a choice between treating a normal life event or not, allowing it to proceed naturally. Your analogy with delivery is an excellent one. Unfortunately I was not so fortunate as you. I had agreed to drugs when/if I asked for them with my first child. You know the rest of the story...Too much demerol, lost control of the labor, more demerol and finally a general anesthetic and a panicky high mid-forceps delivery and baby with a birth Apgar of 2. He spent two days in the neonatal ICU. Thank God he ended up fine. You may be certain that the next time I said NO DRUGS and NO ANESTHESIA.

My own mother is 80, never took a hormone in her life and takes care of herself and her own home. She takes *one* medication - an oral hypoglycemic which she has taken for the past 5 years. In contrast her sister took hormones after surgical menopause for 40 years. My aunt spent the last 15 years of her life housebound and unable to walk further than across the room. Her diabetes was brittle and could not be controlled so she developed diabetic neuropathy. Note that changes in blood sugar are one of the side effects of exogenous estrogen. She also had gall bladder surgery in the 1980's, again gall bladder problems are twice as likely to occur in women on hormones as in those who don't take them.

Doctors claim that post menopausal hormones will prevent diseases. The evidence provided by randomized placebo-controlled studies published in peer reviewed journals suggests otherwise. Many doctors may truly be confused and not up to date on their reading. Others (and I read their comments as reported in the local papers when still another study confirms serious risks and little benefit from these drugs) ignore the studies and provide their patients with less than full information on which to make a choice. A very few take the studies seriously and change their prescribing practices.

Whatever decision you make, make sure it's based on full information about the risks of these drugs. Don't let your doctor stampede you into making a decision you will later regret when you develop the side effects and the adverse effects long before you get the supposed benefits.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Leigh, What would you recommend for women who have such bad effects from menopause that they are basically crippled, ie unable to carry on with normal activities? How long should they ride it out as a normal life process....a few months.....a few years..... How are they supposed to know how much is "normal" ?????


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RE: Menopause without HRT

What "bad effects from menopause" are you talking about here? Hot flashes and night sweats? Insomnia? Vaginal dryness? Have you gone over to look at the Menopause and Beyond site? It's loaded with practical non-drug alternatives. I think drugs should always be a last resort because of the risks they represent.

If the individual cannot cope with the 'bad effects" any longer, then I think looking into the lowest possible dose of hormones (legitimate FDA approved prescription ones only) for the shortest possible time is a reasonable thing to do. However, the person who does this should be aware that hormones often simply delay these symptoms and when the hormones are discontinued in about 66% of women the symptoms come back for a time. In addition many women do not get relief from these problems with hormones. They change the type and preparation for months until finally they believe they've found the right one because the symptoms disappear. What has usually happened, as many of us who have not used drugs have learned, is that these symptoms wax and wane. That they are on the wane when you take your fourth or fifth kind of hormone pill may simply be coincidence.

Bottom line - if you choose to take hormones know exactly what risk you are taking and weigh the risks and benefits you expect to get carefully. Don't count on your doctor to give you accurate information because s/he is being besieged by drug company salespeople and often s/he is getting his/her information only from those who stand to benefit from the sale of the drugs. Drug companies spend $13000/doctor/year on advertising directly to doctors. They expect (and get) a return on that investment through the prescriptions they influence the doctor to write. If, for example, your doctor hands you leaflets from drug comapnies as "information" on post menopausal hormone replacement you know s/he didn't do his/her homework. If your doctor is pushing hormones for "prevention" do your own research on Medline for the most recent studies and reports. The "preventative" aspect is quickly evaporating in the face of rigorous scientific testing.

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.oxford.net/~tishy/beyond.html


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RE: Menopause without HRT

I am keeping a menopause journal, in the hope that it might help someone else when they start asking about what symptoms I have. So far, I have had nothing that I would consider unbearable or that interferes with doing anything. I think my biggest problems were mental, but the Dr.s never considered that to be a menopausal problem. LOL I just want to know what it is like for women who don't use hrt. My Dr. is not pushing hrt, but I think the media does. I also do not want to take hrt if it means continuing my periods. No way. My nights sweats are annoying, but nothing unbearable. And, they are certainly not constant. Maybe one week out of the month so far. I think we might tend to think we have symptoms all the time every day, but I don't think that is what happens. That's why I am doing the journal. I don't want to make it a bigger deal than it really is.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Hi Susan - I'm going through menopause without HRT from choice because I don't want to take it either and haven't felt the need to take it. It was the only thing my Dr had to offer so I decided not to pay him a visit.

Things come and go a bit but nothing I can't handle. My 3 months of intensive hot flushes got a bit much at one stage but I'm now very pleased that I through them without having to take anything. They disappeared as dramatically as they arrived and I really feel so well now.

For a while I was waking each hour of the night. I just got around it all by making my bed as comfortable and cool as possible without getting chilled. That was a big help and I'm still careful not to get too hot in bed.

A sense of humour is a huge help. A visit to the supermarket was fun and I used to linger in refrigerated rooms for as long as possible and could often be seen with my head over the freezers blushing over the frozen peas for a duration. I'm very happy to report that I don't have to do that now and behaviour in the supermarket has now returned to normal. I used to have at least 3 hot flushes getting around the supermarket and a decent one at the checkout. If you can laugh at whatever is happening, its a big help.

Regards
Joan


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Susan, I think your journal is a marvellous idea. I kept one for several years but as the problems disappeared so did my interest in keeping it up. You'll probably find that certain problems will appear and disappear without rhyme or reason. It can sometimes be helpful to watch for what triggers hot flashes/night sweats and avoid those things as much as possible. For me it was sugar and carbohydrates late in the day - after about 4 PM. Some people find that stress is a trigger and learning how to handle stress can help. Your journal might help you a lot here.

Joan, I love your sense of humor and your attitude. I also chose not to bother seeing a doctor about menopause, since I knew I wouldn't take the drugs. Those frozen food aisles of the supermarkets used to get an awful lot of my attention too. Funny how long it sometimes took to pick out which bag of frozen broccoli looked just right. The American South in the summer is not a nice place to have hot flashes!! Pure cotton is your best friend when it comes to sheets and nightclothes. Silk PJ's/nightshirts are even better, since silk wicks heat away from your body very efficiently. And after all if you've turned the thermostat down, you'll save enough on your heating bills in the winter to pay for the silk. Right?


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Hi Leigh - Night clothes?? What night clothes? Very brazen of me I know, but one of my ways of dealing with night sweats was to dispense with night clothes completely and disappear under cotton sheets.

Not a pretty sight I know, but I told my husband that visually there were two choices - either over done, or under done! Mercifully, he decided it was my choice and that he could cope with a la natural and we both got a good night's sleep.

Now that things have settled down again, I give due notice that I shall once again don my night shirt for the winter. Succumbing to pneumonia is not on the agenda either.

Thanks for your thoughts on bedding and night wear because it does make such a difference to the comfort level and helps sleeping patterns.

Regards
Joan


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RE: Menopause without HRT

I had my complete hysterectomy 4 years ago. I took Premarin the first 2 years. My breast were constantly tender and I did gain weight. I took myself off of them and have not had any unbearable problems. I do not want to take them unless things get a whole lot worse. How long is menopause supposed to last? Are we talking years? What vitamins and supplements do you take. I take calcium, vitamin e, and c. What is everyone else taking?


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RE: Menopause without HRT

I am naturally (as opposed to surgically) menopausal. I take no supplements, or otc products. Nor do I take any prescription drug of any kind.

I'm assuming by "complete hysterectomy" you mean uterus, both ovaries and tubes. This is incoorect terminology and may be confusing. A total hysterectomy means uterus and cervix removed. A radical hysterectomy, usually done for cancer or severe endometriosis, means uterus plus muscle, fat and lymph nodes in the abdomen. Removal of the entire uterus, including the cervix, and both tubes and both ovaries is properly termed a total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oopherectomy (BSO). The hysterectomy can be either vaginal (TVH) or abdominal (TAH).

If you had both ovaries removed and you have taken no hormone drugs for 2 years you are unlikely to develop severe menpausal signs now. The remaining questions are your age and the reason for the hysterectomy.

If you are under 40, you may need a supplemental estrogen until you reach at least 40. Some doctors say 45; some say 50. Menopause, whether natural or surgical, before 40 may predispose you to increased risk of heart disease and bone thinning. You can certainly modify these risks by making lifestyle changes - quit smoking, keep your weight under control, eat a balanced diet high in veggies and fruits, make sure your blood pressure and blood sugar are well-controlled, do weight-bearing exercises - but without ovaries you are not getting the natural estrogen that the intact woman of the same age gets and so may need to supplement it for a time.

If the hysterectomy was done for an estrogen dependent-cancer you will most certainly not want to take any. If it was done for endometriosis, you need to be very cautious in its use.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

I've watched the discussion on surgical menopause and its effects with interest and I'm not sure exactly where I fall. I'm wondering if there is such a thing as a "semi-surgical" menopause which would be me.

At the age of 50 I had removal of the uterus, cervix and one ovary, done abdominally. I made a speedy complete recovery and have absolutely no regrets as my op. has been so successful and greatly improved my quality of life.

Having one ovary only I have got by without taking any HRT at all and it wasn't until 2yrs after the op. that I had any menopause symptoms. These have now gone and I'm feeling really great. I also take no vitamins or supplements because I believe we should be getting these things naturally from our diets if we are eating the right food.

My comments just from someone who seems to be sitting on both sides of the fence at once of the surgical/non-surgical menopause discussion.

Regards
Joan


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Leigh, By unbearable effects of menopause I was referring to hot flashes/sweats, mood changes, vaginal and urinary tract symptoms (dryness, incontinence, recurrent uti's), mental status changes (memory loss, lack of concentration), insomnia. As you know, there are degrees of all of these from mild to severe. There is also variability among women in ability to cope with all of these. And I was referring to the woman who has tried life style changes and every practical and common sense approach she has found and still can not function in her everyday life. Not everyone has the luxury of taking time off or away, they have to support their family and take care of children or elderly parents. Of course they need to be aware of risks vs benefits and I also believe doctors often fall down on this aspect of providing care. Ultimately a person is responsible for their own well being, but many women have not been educated nor socialized to believe this.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Then it seems we are not very far apart on this issue. Indeed everyone is responsible for his/her own well-being. Every woman must decide for herself how long she's willing to "tough out" unpleasant menopausal signs. However, failure to provide full information to someone trying to make a decision whether or not to take post menopausal hormones (or any other drug) is loading the dice. Too often doctors substitute their judgement for the patient's and slant their information to convince the patient to do what the doctor thinks is best. People need to know that they have a choice. I suggest that every time someone is handed a prescription, he/she ask the doctor "what will happen if I don't take this drug?" And then do your own research and ask questions. When, for example, the doctor tells you an estrogen drug will prevent heart disease and make your skin better, and help your depression, ask him/her why the insert that comes with the drug specifically denies any of those benefits. Ask if there are other drugs with fewer risks which might serve the same purpose. Read any inserts that come with your drugs and then look up the full information in a PDR (available in any library) or use the power of the internet. Take responsibility for yourself instead of handing it over to a doctor. You're the one who will get the benefits or suffer the ill effects, not the doctor. So make sure you know what both the benefits and the risks are. According to an article in the JAMA a couple of years ago 98000 hospitalized Americans die every year from the use of prescription drugs. This figure does not include errors; it includes only ADR's or adverse drug reactions. Protect yourself and avoid becoming one of those 98,000.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Bad Idea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Leigh, what are so afraid of? I just started taking HRT and I can tell my skin is visibly more plump, I feel great, and after talking with my doctor, only if I take HRT for four years or longer, does my breast cancer risk increase, and who's to say the breast cancer doesn't coincide with ending the HRT? Get off your high horse and pop a few aspirins once in awhile. You think you feel great now, try a low dose of HRT. There's not a thing wrong with making your life easier and looking better. You lived with hormones in your body your whole life, and now they're gone. Is that OK with you?


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RE: Menopause without HRT

I also am menopausal and HRT free. I just chosen to ride the storm out naturally and thus far have experienced no ill effects. Maybe my husband feels different, but Oh Well!!! So far I do have night sweats and hot flashes of varying degrees, as well as insomnia. But I can cope. I just don't care for drugs of any nature


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Mary Jo, can you explain your post a little? Why, for example, do you assume that women avoid hormones out of fear? Many women view menopause as a natural event in their lives and therefore view it as not requiring medical treatment any more than puberty did. Why do you assume that hormones will make one feel better or look better? Given the list of problems women on hormones come to this group with, I think in many cases exogenous hormones may cause more problems than they solve. Why on earth would anyone want to "pop a few aspirins?"

BTW your body didn't have hormones all your life - reproductive levels of sex hormones do not occur until puberty. Were you "deficient" before puberty? The post menopausal ovary along with the adrenals produces all the sex hormone a post menopausal woman needs just as the prepubescent girl has all the sex hormones she needs. Also, your .625 of premarin (are you not on a progestin of any kind? have you had your uterus removed?) is not a "low dose." It's the standard dose; "low dose" premarin is .3mg.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Hi I've only just caught up with this interesting discussion you have all been having. Can someone tell me what is the longest period of hot flushes known, I am only 66 months in but I don't know how I could take 5 years as some of you have mentioned. I am not taking any HRT as after 2 years of taking it and putting on weight and feeling depressed and anxious - I stopped.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Everyone is different. For myself 6yrs - 2 years before my last period and four years after - of 30-40/24 hours. For the past 2 1/2 years, 4-6/24 hours, but they are milder, shorter and most of the time I barely notice them. I still keep a ceiling fan on at night summer and winter. One hint no one has mentioned here but which may help to minimize night sweats is sleeping alone if you have the luxury of an extra bedroom and a partner who recognizes that this is not rejection, but merely a practical solution to a physical problem. It also puts a stop to the thermostat and bedcover wars that seem to become a part of so many couples' lives at this time.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

I am 34 and I have been on HRT for the past 3 years, due to a hysterectomy. However, by face has never been the same. I suffer from severe breakouts, vaginal dryness,and nipple discharge. I am however, looking into taking estroven. Can anyone give me advice concerning this?
Thank you


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RE: Menopause without HRT

If you ladies read over some of what you've written, listen to yourselves. "I've gone through menopause naturally - horrible hot flashes, night sweats, dizziness, etc. but I've never felt better in my life." Yeah, after going through all that when you didn't have to? That's like going through "natural labor" so you can say you did it. Who cares? You get no credit for not taking drugs. The word "drug" isn't a nasty word. Don't put yourself up on a pedestal for not taking "drugs." I don't mean to sound so nasty, but stop the "I'm better than you are" mentality.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Mary Jo, BRAVO!!!
I must agree with you 100%. Why suffer needlessly. when you don't have to. We are given knowledge to make life better. Our Grandmothers didn't have the choices we have today, they didn't live as long either, and their quality of life certainly wasn't as good. I, for one, see no reason not to make the best possible life for myself and if that includes taking hrt for the rest of my life, so be it. I'm just glad things are available. Mood swings and irritability aren't very nice.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

I don't get it. When did anyone say they were better because they didn't take drugs? This thread started with a question asking if anybody did do without HRT and what were the risks of forgoing it, so I'd expect there to be people saying they hadn't used it and what their experiences were. Why shouldn't they decide against it if that's their choice?

Tishy


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Hi Tishy - I prefer to manage life events without taking drugs if at all possible. If anything becomes too much and I can't manage, that's a different story and I would consider assistance. However so far so good with menopause and I feel just fine. I coped with a short intensive period of hot flushes which have now gone but I'm not convinced that if I had sought HRT that would have been the instant fix for that symptom either. I read so many messages that indicate its all trial and error.

Too much knowledge can be a dangerous thing too so with drugs I believe less is best if possible, provided one is in good health. I'm grateful to be 52 but if I hadn't taken strong drugs when I was 21 I wouldn't have survived pleural tuberculosis for more than a few days at the time as both my lungs collapsed. That aside, I still prefer to take the minimal approach with drugs but in doing so I'm certainly not suffering.

Regards
Joan


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Like Joan, I think the least drug use is always best. That doesn't mean I think I or anyone else who eschews drug use is a better person than the person who chooses drug use: rather it means that I think one method of coping (in this case with menopause and its more uncomfortable signs) is better than another. It would seem obvious to me that I believe no drugs are better than drugs. If I didn't I would use drugs. Other people believe differently. That is their privilege.

It's the notion that hormone drugs will solve everyone's problems that I find so pernicious. Women post here complaining of (what I would view as horrendous) side effects of hormones especially bleeding, painful swollen breasts, and massive hair loss. At best these women have traded one set of problems for another. At worst (and this happens very frequently) the new problems are layered on top of the original ones. These women spend months and sometimes years trying to find the "right" drugs. This is "quality?"


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Oh get real. I suppose you tell diabetics they are wicked for succumbing to the use of that dirty hormone insulin, too--after all, if you don't use it in the correct dose, it'll kill you. That's well researched. How about thyroid hormone--I guess you're against using that "drug" too, since it's a "natural" part of aging for many women for that to fade away. It's probably weak and self-indulgent to supplement that so that you regain a metabolism. After all, if you take the wrong dose, it makes you feel horrible.

Don't be fooled, readers. These terrible "side effects" of hormones that Leigh wants to spare you from so you will have a kind and gentle personality like she does are nothing more than symptoms of the WRONG DOSE. We don't need hormones, sure. Nor do we need to be comfortable, happy, or healthy. IMHO, neither do we need to made guilty for caving in to relief from what can be, no matter how "pure" we try to be, crushing symptoms from this "natural" event.

I put up with 5 years of never sleeping more than half an hour due to drenching hot flashes, bleeding from bad vaginal atrophy, suicidal depression, crippling memory loss, incontinence...never mind a host of aesthetic disasters. And yes, thank you for asking, as it happened I did walk. Miles. And I also tried the various patches at sites like Tishy's--in fact, it was the "natural" remedy of soy that made my post-menopausal fibroids blow up so badly that I needed a hyst for them and the really ugly ovaries I developed. Now I take hormones and am healthier and happier than I've been in a decade. But I guess I'm too old to deserve this, and instead should drop them and go back to walking, huh?

I guess I'll also throw away my glasses without which I can't see my feet when I'm standing up. It's "natural" to lose your vision as you age. And once my memory departs from the lack of estrogen, it probably won't bother me because I won't remember how it used to be. Maybe I should just go ahead and die now, too, since at 51 my life would have been over in previous centuries. Clearly, since I'm not destined to be one of those magically healthy-till-80 old ladies, I don't deserve to do anything other than dry up and blow away.

Or maybe I'll just make my own way, and have to accept that it won't meet with your approval. I just feel sorry for the women who come here and take the fact that you shout everyone down for being universally right. Gals, we're all different. Make up your own minds. Choose your own state of health and don't let the moral enforcers of the world do it for you. Can you do menopause without HRT? Sure--if your body still gets enough estrogens other ways. If it doesn't, don't doom yourselves on the say-so of those whose do. IF you need it, if you take it sensibly, it's a big help. It may make all the difference. It did for me.

val


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Valdema, we think alike completely. ALL the women, and I know many, who are menopausal, take hrt. It does so much for our quality of life, not to mention long-term value. My Mother-in-law died at age 73 and had shrunk more than 2 inches, never took any kind of drugs, was miserable and grouchy all the time. I really believe if hrt had been available, her life would have been much better. A friend had estrogen-fed cancer of the breast, even after tumor removal and chemo. her biggest regret, never can take any type of hrt again. Why live a long time and be miserable and hateful? If drugs will do it, I am all for them!


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RE: Menopause without HRT

I always concerns me that there may be women taking HRT who don't actually need it but are persuaded to do so by the promise of a better quality of life which they may have had regardless. The thought that all elderly women who haven't taken HRT are grouchy, miserable and suffering from bone problems doesn't sit well with me either because that is stereotyping a significant slice of the population. From what I can see there is an elevated risk of breast cancer from taking HRT. I've just had a dear friend die of that disease at the age of 50.

I'm 52 and I don't take HRT. I also don't have mood problems for which I'm very grateful but I know that is a distressing symptom to those who do have them. Unlike puberty when I can recall having mood swings for a short time, it has not been a problem for me in menopause. At the same time in puberty, the mood swings were something which were recognised and just got through with no problems. Because I feel so well and have nothing that I can't deal with, I don't see why I should elevate my risk of breast cancer by taking HRT because some Doctor has been convinced by a drug company that this should be standard practice for all women.

One thing I have got is a mind of my own which I can make up for myself based on the evidence and conditions prevailing at the time. Taking HRT when I don't need it as some sort of insurance against a whole lot of things which may never happen anyway when I am older is not a good enough reason for me.

Regards
Joan


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Val said " And I also tried the various patches at sites like Tishy's--in fact, it was the "natural" remedy of soy that made my post-menopausal fibroids blow up so badly that I needed a hyst for them and the really ugly ovaries I developed."

I don't understand this. What "patches" at my site? Climara, Estraderm etc are all listed certainly but they are HRT which is what you are endorsing, so it doesn't make much sense if that's what you mean. Neither do I understand why you throw in the comment about soy, apparently linked to my site which is sceptical about it. In fact if you read my site's mission statement you will find that that I am upfront about being sceptical about *everything* as I believe that consent can only be informed if the cons about something are equally as evident as the pros.

As for being dead at 51 in previous centuries, this has never been a certain fate. I was just reading a book written in 1888 (_Discourses to Women on Medical Subjects_ by Anna M. Longshore Potts) which states:
-------
THE change of life is an important climax, and it is a period through which every menstrual woman must pass, if her life is spared to reach it. After from thirty to thirty-five years of ovulation and child-bearing, there comes a time of rest for her own system; the ovaries cease to perform their usual functions, and the uterus diminishes in size; and, like the fruit- trees in the orchard, she ceases to bear. But her existence is maintained for other
purposes; for woman has a variable mission - her sphere of usefulness is not limited to one work, however important that one may be. This interesting change may take place at different ages, according to the constitution and other conditions; in some it will be as early as at thirty-eight, in others not until fifty, and both classes may be in apparent health. And cases have come to our notice in which the change took place at the very early age of twenty-five, and others as late as fifty-six, for which no cause could be assigned as far as the general health would indicate.

and

If a woman passes safely over this change, which is fraught with so many peculiar symptoms and liabilities, which engross the mind with fearful forebodings, and often with disastrous consequences to life and happiness, she may then hope for a period of twenty-five or thirty years of a more undisturbed and peaceful existence than all her former life has yielded her.
--------
Also, in 1888 Dr Farr, a writer reporting on the Thirty-fifth Annual Report of the Registrar General of Births, Deaths, and Marriages [of England] stated that of a representative million children at birth:

"Of the original million 421,115 attain to the age of fifty-five"
and
"At the age of fifty-three the number of men and women surviving become equal ; but from fifty-five and onward the women exceed the men in number.

"161,124 reach the age of seventy-five, 38,565 reach eighty-five and about 220 reach the age of one hundred"
-----------

So maybe you *wouldn't* have been dead at 51...
Tishy


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Like you, Tishy, I'm at a loss about the "patches" the poster is talking about. If she means alternative type remedies, then it seems she hasn't actually read your site or the links both of which most certainly express a great deal of scepticism about all of them.

The analogy she has drawn between diabetes and menopause and hypothyroidism and menopause are very poor analogies since both diabetes and hypothyroidism are *diseases* which require treatment. Menopause is not a disease.

Perhaps I should have been a little clearer in my last post. I am opposed to *unnecessary* drug use to cope with anything. In the case of a Type I diabetic, insulin is necessary to life. In the case of *true* hypothyroidism, thyroid hormone is essential to proper functioning. However, in no case other than the very young castrate, is estrogen necessary to life or to proper functioning except in the realm of reproduction. It is most certainly not necessary in anything other natural amounts in the naturally post menopausal woman. Some women may choose to take hormones to alleviate their symtoms and this is their right. However, they also have the right to know what the risks of taking these drugs are.

Quality of life is a subjective concept. What I view as quality, others may view as lacking in quality and vice versa. Like Joan, I think many woman are convinced to take hormones for an improved quality of life which often doesn't materialize or to "prevent" future health problems for which they were either never at risk, or for which the evidence of efficacy is sadly lacking.

Interestingly doctors complain constantly about lack of patient compliance with hormone regimens. If the drugs actually and reliably produced the supposed improvement in quality of life being claimed here, then women would continue taking them. The reality is that most women stop within a a few months or at most a year or two. The most often cited reason is side effects that were more onerous than the problems the drugs were intended to solve. The next most common is fear of taking a known human carcinogen. Cost, including the cost of increased medical supervision, is another.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Reality is not just what someone wants it to be. All the women I know have not stopped taking hrt after a few months or even years. Of the 11 I personally know, the time frame is 2 years to 12 and continuing. I believe there is enough proof that hrt does in fact help with osteoporosis. As with any drug, there may be trial and error. The important factor is educating yourself and not being totally dependant on your doctor for all the answers. From reading yours other posts, I am sure everyone knows you are totally against any estrogen replacement. This is great, it's you choice, but you need not try to convince others to your beliefs and thinking, we're fairly intelligent enough to make rational decisions. I do expect a bebuttal, as in all your posts, you must have the last word. LOL.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Like all debates there are two sides. The bit that concerns me is where I read so often on this site generalisations about the benefits of HRT for all women with references to people who did not take it and the various medical conditions they developed being blamed on the fact that they did not take HRT. They may well have developed these conditions anyway, who knows?

Being one who does not take HRT because I don't need it, apart from pointing this out in various places, I endeavour not to tell others that they shouldn't take it or to blame a range of medical problems on the fact that they did take it. I just put the view point that its possible to get through menopause with nothing in the same way it was possible to get through puberty which is a time of hormonal upheaval.

There has been publicity and concern here in my country about the very lengthy periods some women are taking HRT. People are starting to wake up to the fact that this is going on and the known elevated carcenogenic risk is a major area of concern.

Cheers
Joan


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RE: Menopause without HRT

The reality is that fewer than 20% of menopausal/postmenopausal women in the US (and this includes those who have had hysterectomy/oopherectomy) are currently taking hormones. Try doing a medline search for the numbers. In Western Europe that number is just under 10%. I don't know about NZ and Australia. In the US one half of all women prescribed hormones never get the prescription filled. 1/2 of those who do fill the prescription stop within the first year. As already noted, side effects are usually given as the reason and the most frequently mentioned intolerable side effect is bleeding. That's why drug companies keep putting out new formulations trying to get rid of this side effect - to make their drugs more acceptable to the women they hope will take them. The surgically menopausal are more than twice as likely to continue taking their hormones probably because bleeding is not an issue for them and because they don't need the progestin component which seems to cause most of the other nastier side effects.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Leigh
I am interested in the location of your statistics. This interest me very much, particularly the USA statistics.
Karolyn


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Karolyn, Just finished reading a report from The American College of OB-Gyn. About one third of American women use some form of estrogen replacement. Not sure if this is what you are looking for.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Estradiol? Vagifem? I am interested in knowing if this is the only answer for vaginal atrophy.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

No, they are not the only things you can try for vaginal atrophy. There are other estrogen products. Estriol cream is one. If you mean non-hormonal things, I've never heard of any. The topical/inner vaginal estrogens are what work the best. They are very low doses, minimally (if at all) absorbed into the general circulation. Some women are sensitive to the base product, ie the cream or gel the estrogen is mixed into, and can have allergic reactions. So if you have any particular sensitivities or allergies be sure the doctor and the pharmacist know about it. It makes sense to treat vaginal atrophy this way if a woman is not having other problems like hot flashes, mood effects, insomnia, etc. Why take a pill when a topical will do the job. Sometimes the systemic hormones have little effect on the vaginal atrophy problem and a topical product has to be used in conjunction with the pill or patch. Whatever you try for vaginal atrophy, we would all appreciate your stopping by to tell us if something you try works or not.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Replens, used as directed - every 2-3 days - has been reported to work as well as estrogen vaginal products without the risks and possible side effects. Although the estrogen creams etc are billed as having little or no systemic effect, there has been very little research in this area. While I know of no study which finds a relationship between vaginal/vulvar cancer or cervical cancer and use of these creams, the fact that all steroidal and conjugated estrogens are known human carcinogens should give one pause before using these products in any form.

Vaginal atrophy is actually a rather rare problem. The usually temporary problem with dryness which may occur with menopause is NOT atrophy. It's simply dryness and can be "cured" with otc lubricants. Most fully post menopausal women find that normal lubrication returns once they *are* fully post menopausal. This may not be true for the surgically menopausal or those who have had extensive cervical surgery for dysplasia since such women lose the lubrication provided by the cervical glands. Such women may need to continue using some kind of lubricant for the rest of their lives.

The best way to prevent vaginal atrophy is regular sexual activity with a patient and understanding partner. This is very much a "use it or lose it" matter.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

I believed I could outlast perimenopause, and tried to cope with hot flashes every 10 minutes with obvious resulting insomnia, frequent memory problems, and a 12 day period so heavy that I became severely anemic and required prescription iron supplements daily. After 4 years of coping, I decided that my quality of life needed improvement. I've been on Prempro for about a year and a half, and cannot imagine why I held out so long. I just turned 51.

The "natural" estrogen and progesterone creams did nothing to help me. Neither did the pills containg black cohosh, chasteberry, etc. Exercise and diet certainly helped with energy and fitness, but did absolutely nothing to diminsh those miserable hot flashes, etc.

Each woman must conduct research and talk to her MD, and must make her own decision regarding HRT. What works for me may not work for you.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

I am 55 years old and I have been going through menopause for 2 years. I have not had a menstral period in over a year. I am a bit leery about taking any kind of estrogen drugs due to the many articles about the increase of cancer and the return of the bleeding. I have been taking soy tablets for the past year (Estroven) and they have eliminated the hot flashes, however I still get the heart palpitations at night which do hamper my sleeping. Does anyone else get these irregular heart palpitations? The doctor says it is due to a low level of estrogen and fairly common during menopause. Are there any "natural" supplements I can take to allieve these palputations? They are driving me crazy.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

WOW!!!!!!!!! What a discussion!!!!!!I am going to try not to take my hrt. I honestly think it makes me feel worse!!!!! BUT if the hot flashes come back and I dont get enought sleep I dont know what I will do. Only time will tell. Thanks to you all for your insight..........Shelagh


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RE: Menopause without HRT

I am older than most on this forum (62) and I went through menopause about 11 years ago. I didn't even go to a doctor when I went through it and I didn't have any idea what to expect. I was still very young when my mother went through it. Luckily, the worst things I had were insomnia, hot flashes, some memory problems and being always either too hot or too cold at night in bed. There were many nights of off with the covers (too hot), on with the covers (too cold.) It's a good thing that I live alone. I just never thought about going to a doctor. My mother(who was 42 when I was born) never went to a doctor. I was having some emotional problems with someone who had done me a great wrong at the same time and I thought that was why I had insomnia. The hot flashes were an annoyance and came sometimes at the rate of 4 or 5 an hour. They eventually went away as did all of the other symptoms. When I finally did go to a doctor about a thyroid problem a few years later, I asked about hormone therapy but the doctor didn't show much interest. So, here I am going on 63 and never taken any hormones and I guess it's too late to start now. Judith


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RE: Menopause without HRT

SUSAN WROTE: Does anyone else get these irregular heart palpitations? The doctor says it is due to a low level of estrogen and fairly common during menopause. Are there any "natural" supplements I can take to allieve these palputations?

Hi Susan, Try Hawthorne Berry. You can get capsules or drops. I found they worked wonderfully well. You should be able to get them at your local drug store, or health food store.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Vivian, thanks so much for the advise. I will definately try the Hawthorne Berry. I appreciate your quick response. Thanks again - Susan.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Oh my gosh! I was put on HRT (PremPro) just one month ago. During this month I decided to do some research. I found the following website....

Take a look. It has great/necessary information for making a decision whether or not to continue taking the HRT. It's ALWAYS OUR final decision. I just thought some of you might find this useful. I was horrified!

What do you think????? It's all so complicated, it seems. I don't know what I should do now... :(

Here is a link that might be useful: HRT Stories


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Interesting dialogue so far, with the usual polarizing statements.
The short answer to your question, Susan, is that yes, there are many who choose not to take hormonal drugs; in fact the very large majority do not take them.

Women who experience discomfort to a degree they cannot tolerate should explore all options, including but not limited to hormonal drugs, with their physicicans. Hopefully these physicians will not see them as having a "disease".
I cringe when menopause is discussed as a "disease" (like diabetes) that must be "treated" or "cured". It is not a disorder, but rather a natural biological process that happens to every female on the planet who lives long enough. As to the claim that nature "did not intend" women to live to that age, an examination of recorded history of any era reveals that women often lived to menopausal age. The "average life expectancy" is a skewed number, affected by early deaths. Anything about pre-recorded history is a guess; we simply don't know if females normally died pre-menopausal.

lynn


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RE: Menopause without HRT

hello, i am 45 years old, and a week ago today i had my utereus, ovaries and tubes removed. i started taking remifemin as my choice of HRT, as i did not want to take any artificial estrogen replacement. i do have a question though about the need for progersterone replacement, which was suggested by my ob/gyn. can you give me any insite as to why that might be necessary? thanks for your help in advance...sherry vogt


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Has anyone tried Black Kohash or Evening Primrose oil. If what results.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

I'm confused...many people answering the original question say they aren't taking anything and then list umpteen herbs. You may not be taking HRT but you ARE taking what amounts to drugs for the symptoms and some herbs can have as many side affects as a manufactured drug. Many synthetic drugs ARE manufactured versions of the compounds in plants. People make the assumption that herbs are healthy and better no matter what. Not necessarily true. Unless your herbs say "organic" you are probably also getting a fair amount of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and who knows what else. Over the long term, as has been known for a very long time, certain herbs too can cause severe health problems incl cancer. Herbs are serious stuff and should not be taken any more lightly than doctor prescribed medications.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

I agree entirely with you Rose. I don't take anything for menopause because I don't need to. I've had symptoms but have been able to manage them.

Regards
Joan


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RE: Menopause without HRT

When I was younger, I noticed that my aunt and my mother-in-law both looked and seemed younger than other women I knew their age. I knew that both of them took estrogen because they had had hysterectomies. I thought I'd get in line for estrogen when my time came.

Now that it's here, things are seem more confusing than ever! If I understand my doctor correctly, they don't prescribe estrogen to people who still have their uterus. So much for my earlier simplistic view and plan for what I would do "when"!

So far, I am trying to stay away from HRT. Mostly because I've read so many posts about people having problems with one kind or another and I am scared of anything that might cause weight gain---that's the last thing I need to do--it's hard enough to lose weight already!

Basically, I am treating menopause symptomatically. The first disturbing problem was despression...so I went to a female psychiatrist who said it was likely caused by hormonal changes and prescribed an antidepressant that is working really well with no side effects. The next issue was hair thinning and loss so I went to a female dermatologist and she said it also was due to hormonal
changes and recommended Rogaine for Men. I've used it since February with excellent results (stopped loss and hair is regrowing). Next were the hot flashes...just when they were really starting to get to me, I tried adding Luna bars to my daily diet (to get more nutrition and less calories for breakfast). They have a little bit of soy protein in them. At any rate, I noticed that the hot flashes have gone away since I started eating Luna bars and I have NO idea if there is any relationship between hot flashes and Luna bars but I'm not complaining.

If the hot flashes had not subsided, I was seriously considering making an appointment for HRT consultation. The hot flashes were very uncomfortable and I was having them on and off all day and night.

So far, so good without HRT. However, if something else pops up that really bothers me and it seems like HRT is the right answer, I will certainly try it and stick with it until I find what works for me.

This whole process is so confusing and hit and miss...as are remedies for it. This forum is really what I am using to get me through. I have resisted getting any books and reading on the topic....probably my form of denial! I'm hoping if I don't dwell on it or pay to much attention to it, maybe it won't be so bad.

Having you all to share with and learn from is wonderful for me! It is a great comfort to know there is a place where I can go and ask anything I want and learn whatever I need to know. It would be far, far worse to be all alone in this. Thank you all!


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Hi Barbara, If the Luna bars have some soy in them, that is possibly what has alleviated your hot flashes. Sometimes just a small amount of soy can do the trick. Thanks for telling us about your journey with menopause. I'm glad you've found the help you've needed to feel well.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

I have been pretty lucky thus far with this menopause thing. I have hot flushes on occasion, not unbearable. No particular mood swings (did not have these with menstruation cycle, either), no real insomnia (except on those nights when my husband decides to snore or the dogs next door bark), no depression, no swelling. I do have some lines and wrinkles (I'm 50) and I'm thinking that if I can save the money I might otherwise spend on HRT, maybe I'll visit the cosmetic surgeon! In the meantime, I have researched all the side effects of HRT and the side effects of some of the natural products, and I think I will try to do some dietary things and not tip the balance chemically. As one of the other posters pointed out, thank heavens these decisions are subject to change if need be.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Hi Ladies, Guess I should have posted in this thread the other day instead of the Femhrt one. Since I am a recent dropout. I wondered if I would find some of the familiar names pop up again, good to see you Anne M and others-I am menopausal for about 5 and a half years now and after taking several different HRT with various side effects my doctor and I came to the conclusion that HRT prescript. are not for me. Due to bad circulatory etc blood clots quite possible to develop, aching legs etc after about 3 or 4 months using any of the estrogen-progesterone prescripts. I am back to taking only vitamin E 800mg. a day. Maybe I should try soy if that could help the flashes and insomnia etc. Vit.E does help me immensely with vag dryness and that is about all I can really notice. I am really focused on lowering my triglycerides with diet ,reduced sugar intake a great deal, fatty foods etc. and walking a mile a day,best I can do for now anyway. So for health reasons I can say I am doing menopause now without HRT. Hope things level out as I approach my 55th bd in October. All for now Good to hear from you all. Marilyn


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Verna - I have had positive results taking Black Cohosh. I take 1 capsule, 540mg of Black Cohosh Root, in the early evening and it quiets the night sweats and hot flashes.
There are different formularies so read carefully. The recommended dosage is 3 capsules a day...but I have heard that it can cause headaches so I use the lowest dose needed to suit my needs.
I was on HRT for 2 1/2 years - very unpleasant experiences and side effects so went off. My life has changed in that now I have to be more in tune and more responsible about my body, diet and mind. HRT seemed like a quick, easy fix when I started and indeed seemed to be what I needed..for a while...then it just seemed to turn on me.
It seems to be one of those things that if it works, it works great, if it doesn't, it makes you miserable.
Maybe that's nature's way of sorting out who will benefit from it and who will not.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Hi! I've read all the interesting discussions on this topic. I'd like to tell you something about my mom. She had a total hysterectomy at age 50 (in China) and never had HRT. It's amazing that she, at age 79 now, still has normal cholesterol, heart condition and bone density. Of course, her life style certainly helps a great deal, e.g. high soy diet, daily exercises(walking), taichi and meditation for 40 years. I recently went back to visit her and found that 99% of women in China have never heard of HRT. It seems they are doing OK.

Now I followed my Mom's steps and had a total hysterestomy five yrs ago (in U.S. though), but put on HRT - Premarin afterwards. In less than 3 years, I developed thyroid cancer, which is non-exist even in my extended family. Besides, I had very bad migraines, disabling me from working. There were probably ten more side effects I experienced from Premarin. It simply destroyed me. I started reading some books/info on net and decided to shoot for a life without HRT, as like my Mom. I started in June. I have had all the things in place, diet, weight resistance exercises, herbs, proGest cream and meditation. So far so good, no hot flashes, no mood swings, no heart irregularity, no migraines, no bloating, no problems.

I believe that anybody who wants to go menopausal naturally should give a try.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Hi all,

I work with many Chinese and I am always amazed at their healthy life style. They don't eat sugar and junk food. They eat wholesome vegetables. They drink green tea that they import from China. As for Chinese herbal medicine, one of the Chinese technicians suffered a serious burn when hot grease hit her face. After seeing the burn, her boss (a medical reseracher) urged her to go to the doctor. Instead she put some type of Chinese herb on it. In 2 weeks that burn on her face was gone and it was impossible to tell where she had been burned. I asked her what the herb was. She said a friend had brought it from China and she did not know the English name for it. Except for smoking cigarettes (many of the Chinese men have this habit) the Chinese have a very healthy life style. Also, they don't feed sweets to their kids either.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Um, Quinz, you do realise that when you say your mother had a "high soy diet" and you are using "herbs, proGest cream" that both of you are using hormones, don't you? Just because they are not pharmaceutical grade hormones does not mean they are not exerting hormonal effects. I'm not saying that's bad, at all. I'm simply echoing my post way up at the top of this thread in which I said there are many ways to obtain hormones, but most successful menopausal strategies seem use them in one form or another. That said, I think it's great that you and your mother have developed a strategy that works for your own bodies' needs.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Most successful menopausal strategies for intact women do not use hormones in some form or another beyond those which are produced within the woman's own body after menopause. The intact human female body is perfectly capable of maintaining itself after menopause, just as it is capable of doing so before menopause. It does not need the assistance of drug companies, doctors, or healthfood stores.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Leigh these are you opinions only, maybe you should consider using a disclaimer.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Why would I post a disclaimer for what is well-known fact even in the US but certainly in the rest of the world and has been true throughout history? Intact postmenopausal women do not have a disease. They do not need medical treatment of any kind and most don't seek any treatment for this normal life event.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Is Leigh's new word of the day "intact", she seems to be using it on all her views today, also, she seems to have to follow every post that Framboise post. Do I sense a jealousy here? In all sincerity, keep posting Leigh, we thoroughly enjoy the laughs you give us.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Still here and not on any hormones, but I now have the vaginal dryness. So far this has been the worst sympton. All the rest I have been able to put up with. I am glad to hear that someone said this might go away after we get through menopause. Another thing I don't like is the way my skin looks. Any help for either of these areas? Anyone out there that can tell me the dryness will go away just like many of my other symptoms? I think I am stuck with the skin, but many people say that HRT improves the look of our skin. Any thoughts on this? I don't want to go on hormones just for my skin, but I sure don't like the way my skin looks.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Hi all. I'm still in the peri. stage, have been for a few years I think. Tests a few years ago showed that my progesterone dropped off too soon in my cycle, so I started on the cream and my cycles improved, as well as my mood swings. I don't like to use drugs unless absolutely necessary becuase my system is so sensitive to them, especially narcotic drugs. I've had reactions to some meds that weren't very pleasant, to say the least. It was after a couple of times like that that I started looking into alternatives and finding help without the side effects. I don't know if I'll do any hrt or not at this point, but I do know I'm not anxious to after seeing what my mother has gone through. She was taken off estrogen a couple of years ago as a trial to see if her hemorhaging in her eyes would stop and so far it has (knock on wood!). I don't recall the name of this condition, but it's usually associated with diabetes and 1 other disease, which she had neither one. She lost some vision as a result and went through a few laser treatments for it too, which didn't stop it, just bandaged it. She's not convinced it was the estrogen, but it's the longest time she has gone without any hemorhaging.
She resumed menopause after stopping it too, which I thought was interesting. I think she took it for 3 decades.She had a hysterectomy in her 40s. She kept telling me she was going to go back on it becuase she couldn't stand the hot flashes and I had to ask her every time if it was more important than her eyesight and she usually settled down. I told her it's probably her body finishing the process that was halted before. She's doing better now.
Homeopathy has helped me with hormonal problems many times before, so I'm hoping it will ease me through menopause too. I'll be starting on a remedy again soon that will help with my energy and mental symptoms. What I like the most about it is that it's prescribed based on a persons own symptoms, not on the name of the condition, since every person exhibits some different symptoms for the same condition. Every womans hormone balance (or lack of!) is different during this time and I feel that if a woman is just given hrt without testing for hormone levels, then she might develop some adverse effects. I'll get off my soapbox now. I hope all of you make informed decisions and do what you're most comfortable with.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Hi Ladies,

I've been sitting here for over an hour reading the different posts on the pros and cons of taking HRT. I've had a few giggles in the process...:o) I hope you don't mind if I add my story to the list. I'm 46 years old and had a complete hysterectomy (uterus, ovaries, & cervix) last April due to large 6 & 7cm fibroids that caused me an unbearable amount of pain every month. After my uterus was removed and sent away for biopsy it was found that I also had the beginning stages of uterine cancer. I'm very grateful that this was found at such an early stage. This meant that I didn't have to have any chemo or radiation treatments. I do however have to have a pap test every 3 months until my Oncologist feels that it's safe for me to go back to my regular yearly schedule. My OBGYN and I had discussed HRT before I went in for my surgery and I made the decision to give it a try because my doctor was convinced that the benefits outweighed the risks. I trusted her opinion and went on HRT a couple of weeks after my surgery. For me this was a very bad decision. I was placed on Premarin in the beginning and by the 4th day I thought I was literally going to die. The side effects from the Premarin were so severe and debilitating that I immediately stopped taking them. I really believe that if I had not stopped taking them when I did that they would have killed me. I had developed breathing difficulties by the 3rd day and my body was retaining so much water that I had actually gained more than 10 pounds. I was so sick I could hardly hold my head up. I found out later that Premarin was made from Pregnant Mare's Urine and contained 10 other ingredients not produced naturally by a woman's body. What is natural for a horse isn't necessarily natural for a human. This didn't stop my doctor from prescribing me yet another form of HRT, because she sincerely believed that the benefits still outweighed the risks. The second prescription was a Generic form of Estradiol. I eventually ended up with similar symptoms but to a lesser degree. Once again my doctor insisted that I needed the HRT because of the risks of heart disease and osteoporosis. This time she prescribed a low dose Vivelle Dot patch. In the beginning I thought that maybe the patch was going to work, but after two months I started to develop bad headaches lasting 2 days with the application of each new patch. My vision was blurred and my heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest all day long. I also suffered from nausea nearly every day. I stopped wearing the patch and I've stayed away from my OBGYN since because I'm NOT going to try another form of HRT no matter how great the benefits are. I love my hot flashes and mood swings. I wouldn't trade them for another HRT drug even if I had to suffer with hot flashes for the rest of my life. At least I know that neither one of them will kill me with blood clots or strokes. My Grandmother never took HRT and and she lived to be 86 years old. She had occasional hot flashes, but for the most part she was happy and healthy. Some people should never take HRT no matter how beneficial it may seem. I've done allot of homework these past couple of months and there's still no real proof that HRT prevents heart disease. Osteoporosis can be avoided by taking Calcium and eating a balanced diet with regular exercise. I'm sure that for some people HRT is helpful, but for me it was like taking poison. I will never let anyone talk me into taking something without researching it for myself again. If menopause wasn't a "natural" part of getting older, then why did God make it part of a womans ageing process?

Sincerely,
Sandy


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RE: Menopause without HRT

my doctor told me that there is a direct link between breast cancer and HRT. She was a foreign doctor and she said foreign studies prove this. American studies say it is not linked but the American studies are done by the company that makes the medications. She also told me that if you have had a hysterectomy you don't need to have a paps test, there is no drainage from the uterus to test. Also all the pamphlets your gyn gives you are published by the company that makes the HRT meds. Only one says "proven to" the rest of them say things like "may", "being studied", etc....


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RE: Pap tests and hysterectomy

A pap test tests the cervix for cancerous cells. If you have had a hysterectomy and kept the cervix, you continue to have the same need for this monitoring as you did pre-operatively. If you did not retain your cervix, many practitioners still encourage the test because they feel that since there is not a clearcut line between cervical and vaginal tissue, some could still be left to develop cancer, and the test would also catch early vaginal cancers.

A pap test really has nothing to do with your menstrual flow or any other uterine, cervical or vaginal secretions.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

My OBGYN Oncologist requires a pap test every 3 months for a year after my Hysterectomy. I've had my uterous, ovaries, & cervix removed. I don't believe he would make me go through this if there wasn't any need for it. He's making sure that my cancer cells did not spread outside of my uterous before it was removed. He told me it's important to do this for the first year and then every 6 months for another year after that. He's a specialist in these types of cancers and I trust his judgement completely. I thought a pap collected tissue cells. If there's even a remote chance that I could develope cancer of any kind down there, I'll continue to have the tests every year. I would rather be safe than sorry...:o)

Sandy


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Sandy,
I totally agree with you about refusing to obey your GYN. They are working for the profit of the phamaceutical companies and at the same time for their own rebate - a big retirement nest as long as a lot of us take HRT drugs for rest of our lives.

A friend of mine developed breast cancer two years after she was put on HRT by her GYN. After the surgery, she has never taken any HRT. It's been more than 10 years and she is doing just fine healthwise at the age of 70.

Sandy, I use black cohosh and the natural progesterone cream for my hot flashes. They seem working pretty good.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Can anyone taking HRT say they've NOT gained weight since starting it? I've read a lot of menopause forums, and though I haven't taken notes, it seems weight gain with HRT is quite common. Personally, having fought weight battles all my life, I'd rather deal with occasional hot flashes, insomnia and depression. Weight gain would only make me more depressed. I'm 51, active, and slender but have no libido whatsoever. DH's is waning as well so maybe we're a good match, but this change is a definite negative for us both. I hope resolvng his sleep apnea will help him but continue at a loss about how to increase my own. And I'll remain HRT-free until a new study guarantees it won't cause me to gain weight.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

There has been an occasional post about not gaining weight and even losing weight while taking HRT. But mostly on the forums, you hear from the women with problems, so it's not a representative sample. If you can get some help for your depression, that may relieve your insomnia and low libido.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

This is such an interesting discussion. I'm 42 and have been reading up on peri-menopause and menapause in an effort to be informed BEFORE any symptoms start. I am reading a wonderful book (mentioned earlier in this thread) call "What your Doctor May not tell you about menopause" by Dr. John Lee. The book makes so much sense to me, and many of the above posts seem to confirm exactly what this doctor is saying, that estrogen replacement is not the miracle cure for all, and may be a detriment to some. I think we all should research before we take the word of our doctors as the end all-be all, remember there is a reason they call it a medical "practice". Just my two cents, but I intend to start lifestyle changes now - and when/if I ever start seeing signs of menopause, I believe at this point I will look first to natural progesterone instead of man-made products. Jerri


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RE: Menopause without HRT

"Natural progesterone" is also man made. The only natural progesterone for your body is the stuff your own body secretes. Lee's book is full of biological absurdities. It is normal for one to have occasional anovulatory cycles before menopause and that the numbers of these will increase as menopause approaches. An anovulatory cycle means no progesterone for that cycle which will probably affect some aspect of the next period or even prevent it entirely. Lee's "research" was done on 100 women many of whom were taking some form of estrogen. There wasn't even a semblance of any kind of scientific trial. Lee is now very wealthy, has given up his medical practice and makes a handsome living allowing manufacturers of so-called natural progesterone cream to quote his supposed "research." He also goes about the country giving seminars at which he stages empty chairs which were reserved for doctors (the same one who won't tell you the "truth" about menopause) who have decided not to attend. He proclaims himself a voice crying in the wilderness trying to tell the real story. What he is is a charlatan who is selling the modern version of Lydia Pinkham's Syrup for Ladies.

If you're interested in menopause issues try Dr Susan Loves Dr Susan Love's Hormone Book: Making Informed Choices about Menopause. There you will find a great deal of information all of it cited to peer-reviewed journals. Love provides information about the normal menstrual cycle and then discusses the changes that take place with age and approaching menopause. Once you've read Love, you'll be able to find the serious flaws in Lee's book.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Why is Lee's information "flawed", but Love's is so accurate? I believe this to be YOUR opinion, not proven fact.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Because Lee's book is full of biological absurdities unless one subscribes to the notion that the post menopausal woman and the prepubertal girl along with the reproductive woman in the first half of her menstrual cycle are diseased. This strikes me as an obvious absurdity. YMMV.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Leigh, I see your point about Lee's assertion that today's woman is suffering from both external influences caused by technology, and internal influences from our eating habits; thus we are "ill".

I do however still like the information in his book about eating healthier, exercising and vitamins.

I was also wondering if in fact he had a stake in the natural progesterone industry!

Your input on this thread has been very insightful.

Jerri


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Dr. Lee claims he has no stake in the production of OTC progesterone cream, and does not recommend any particular brand. Granted all of the information in his book is anecdotal evidence, but to me it says: this is something to look at. My question at the end of the book was, "If he believes in it so strongly, why didnt he pursue authentic research?" He claims no drug company will back research on natural progesterone because they can't patent it. However, there are other sources for funding research if a person wants to do it. Of course you won't see doctors at his seminars; the medical profession in America has labeled him a quack. I believe he has some valid points. Some women do need progesterone and for too long doctors have not acknowledged this. They have been too ready to hand out prescriptions for Premarin and Provera in doses that are beyond what is needed, to any woman who comes in asking for help with menopause related problems. Too many of them have also routinely handed out hormomes to women who have no problems; apparently the doctors were buying into the "forever feminine" myth put forth by the makers of Premarin. Well, that's my two cents worth.....again. It still boils down to each and every woman needs to educate herself, advocate for herself, and make choices for herself.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

At his seminars he reserves chairs at the front of the room for doctors. Then during the seminar he uses these empty chairs as props to demonstrate that other doctors won't tell you the truths he is about to reveal. He is a *paid* speaker at these seminars in which he urges women to use some version of THE CREAM. He is also paid by the companies who use his book to promote their version of this product.

If there are post menopausal women who *need* progesterone (and other than the intact ones who take estrogen I don't believe there are) then they need it in amounts large enough to actually be detectable in the blood, since that's the only way it's going to get to the receptors. The otc cream does not supply that.

You are presenting this as a choice between premarin/provera or progesterone. The realistic option for most women is nothing at all.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Doctors, whether promoting alternative treatments or prescribed medications, are subject to propaganda and are well paid by the corporate companies. I would guess less so by the alternative manufacturers since they don't have the millions of dollars to spend. But as the consumer we have to go with our educated guesses. I have resisted hrt after a hysterectomy (uterus, ovaries, cervix) although my oncologist offers it every time I see him. Even though my cancer was estrogen receptive and my mother had breast cancer. And my symptoms are very mild infrequent hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness. Since he is one of the best gyn oncologists in NYC I trust him for the oncology side but use my endocrinologist for hrt consultations - tomorrow we review a recent bone scan. And by the way - Replens seems to work well for the vaginal dryness and is cheapest at Walmart.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Why do you think alternative companies don't have millions of dollars to spend? This isn't really David and Goliath although the supplement manufacturers would like you to believe that it is. They spend nothing on research, and their raw materials are cheap. Since they have no quality control and can pretty much do as they please - no one makes sure the bottles and tubes contain what's claimed in the amount claimed - they can hire minimum wage or even undocumented workers to run their blenders and fill their jars and bottles and tubes. It's a highly profitable industry.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

You're not considering the the publics' right to sue over practically anything nowadays. One hefty lawsuit against a company could put them out of business, no more profit. I really would think it is in their best interest to be accurate with their claims.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

I've been on low dose HRT (Activella) for the past three years, since my bloodwork showed I was post-menopausal.

It initially got rid of my hot flashes, but I've gained what I think is too much weight; my anxiety/bad moods have recently gotten worse; am extremely fatigued.

While I don't know if the weight gain is from the HRT, or just that my metabolism slowed down to a crawl, I'm going to see if my GYN is agreeable to taking me off them when I see her in November.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

I am 55 and have been suffering terribly with symptoms on and off for 5 years. I never really considered taking HRT primarily because I just don't like taking medicine of any kind except for the occasional headache or cold pill. I had a very painful period last month so I am still not in menopause. I wonder now if HRT might have been a good idea though the idea of it still scares me a great deal. I believe that it should be considered when the symptoms interfere with your sense of well being. I believe now that I will emerge from this ordeal in a much better place but I would never tell another woman that toughing it out is the best approach either.


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Both my gynecologist and family physician have stated that HRT is safe, and the media hype against is just that. Even Dr Oz is a beleiver in HRT!


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re: menopause without hrt- dr oz

link to Dr OZ view of HRT

Here is a link that might be useful: Dr OZ view of HRT


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RE: Menopause without HRT

Today I had an appointment with a new Doctor that is putting me on HRT. I had a complete hysterectomy 6 years ago at 32 years old. I thought I was doing great because I don't have hot flashes any longer, however the side effects I have been having are so much worse and no other doctor told me it had to do with my hormones. I have been in complete misery for the last 5 years. Painful sex, bowel problems, chronic bladder infections.
I did not know...the last doc I went to 3 years ago told me he didn't see anything wrong and it was my duty as a wife to have sex with my husband.
I feel like I have a second chance after today, I hope this HRT works...


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