A friend of mine works for the HRT division of the FBI. When I was told this my first thought was “What does the FBI have to do with hormone replacement therapy?”, only to realize that he actually works on the hostage-rescue team. It just goes to show you how much HRT women have on the brain. Should we take it? Shouldn’t we take it? Will it improve or health or send us to an early grave?
Because of this confusion women have been held hostage by very legitimate fears when it comes to HRT and ironically could use a rescue from this elite arm of the FBI. If only they weren’t so busy performing counter terrorism operations. In the mean time, where can you go for accurate information regarding hormones, whether or not to replace them and if so, with what?
Well twice in the past week Oprah has done an hour on hormone replacement therapy. Robin McGraw (wife of Dr. Phil and author of a new book on aging that she’s promoting) along with Dr. Christiane Northrup were the guests as well as a segment with Dr. Oz and a patient suffering from menopausal symptoms. (I’m not sure why Dr. Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon, took the patient to see Robin McGraw’s gynecologist, but I’m guessing it has something to do with American trusting him so much.)
I watched a portion of this program until I got a phone call, so I got the rest of the information from Oprah’s web site. It was an interesting and informative show on a topic that due to my age I’m much more interested in and want to better understand before my perimenopausal brain fog sets in.
I was pleased they pointed out to the audience that there’s no such thing as “one size fits all medicine”. Every woman needs to find a doctor willing to discuss not only her symptoms but also her treatment plan. Robin McGraw also stressed the importance of women being accountable for their health by not only staying abreast of the information that’s out there but more importantly, taking the time to know their body so they can more objectively monitor what’s working.
My issue with the program was that there was a lot of talk about bioidentical hormones and if you weren’t listening carefully you might have walked away from that show assuming that bioidentical hormones where the end all, be all of HRT, and the answer to your menopausal prayers. You might also erroneously conclude that it’s only the HRT that keeps Robin McGraw looking so fabulous and not take into account the fact that she probably eats right, exercises, has a hair dresser and a makeup artist as well as a ton of cash to invest in her health, wellness and beauty regimens.
As I was reading Oprah’s web site, I remembered that Dr. Polaneczky of The Blog That Ate Manhattan did an amazing 4-part piece on HRT back in 2006. I love TBTAM because it’s always about the facts and not the hype. Being a gynecologist, she constantly sifts through medical information important to women and presents it in a fun, interesting, yet accurate way. After re-reading her posts along with the information that I got from Oprah, I have a much better understanding of all things HRT.
Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s great that Oprah is tackling this topic. But I also think it’s safe to assume that because Oprah is doing something, millions of women will do it also by default. Buying a book or putting one of her “favorite things” on your Christmas list is one thing. Following a hormone replacement regimen just because Oprah’s doing it or talking about it, is insane. Or course any doctor worth his/her stethoscope wouldn’t prescribe something just because Oprah said so, but under certain circumstances, a patient could be setting herself up for failure if the following conditions are met:
She’s a lackadaisical patient that’s unwilling to investigate her options combined with an I’ll do anything that Oprah does attitude that has an appointment with a stressed out, not up on the latest research, doctor that views the patient as a lab result and not a combination of ever-changing symptoms.
I’m just saying – It could happen.
I don’t think Oprah wants folks to blindly walk into their MD’s office and demand bioidentical hormones, but I’m willing to bet the farm that someone out there will do just that either out of frustration or confusion or simply due to a hectic schedule. If you are one of those women, STOP right now and head over to TBTAM and spend some time there. Between Oprah and Dr. P you’ll have all the information that you need and can, with the help of your physician, not only make an informed decision about your health care regimen, but be able to monitor and tweak it for years to come.