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.


12 responses to “HRT

  1. Thansk for the plug, and for the heads up on Oprah – I hadn’t heard she did a show on HRT, and will see if I can watch it on you tube or something.

  2. It was a good show and I’m glad that she’s talking about this. I think it’s a great introduction to the topic, but I just wanted readers to also head to your site and get even more facts as this is an ever changing topic. Bravo to you for adding to this dialogue. I truly believe that by the time I need to make a decision regarding HRT I will have all the facts and be able to make an informed one.

  3. I’m very glad Oprah did this show to raise awareness of bioidentical hormones, as I have had great success the two years that I have been on BHRT. I take progesterone and a small amount of testosterone, and because of it I am down 80 pounds from my high weight, am off SIX medications, and feel better than I have in years. I live in NC, but travel to the Monterey Women’s Health Center in Southern CA to see Dr. John Carr. It’s a strain on the budget, but totally worth the cost to keep me as healthy as I can. I wish everyone the best of luck in their search for a BHRT therapy doctor, I have read many of the posts on Oprah’s website regarding this issue and they are heartbreaking.

  4. Wow that’s terrific. Glad to hear that you’re getting such wonderful results. Too bad you must travel so far for medical attention. Here’s to hoping that one day you’ll find a doctor that’s close to your home. Maybe one of his protégées will relocate to NC.

  5. I have a few comments to a few people. It’s not in my nature to be quick, to the point, and resistant of the urge to form in inexhaustible argument, but I’m going to try…in part because I’m expecting my older daughter’s school bus at any moment.

    First to our author. I like your writing style, and I write, so take this compliment to heart. Secondly, I think the biggest threat to women in seeking the best medical care for themselves is the conventional medical community that teaches (or preaches…or brainwashes…certainly, that condescends and bullies) them into getting it through their thick skulls that because they saw something on Oprah, they’re uneducated cattle who they determine are “one of those” and therefore need to be re-directed by any relationship-ending means necessary. It is arrogance, and it is infuriating, and as the parent of an autistic child who has to confront this crap every time I try to get my daughter’s pediatrician on board with some of the tests and treatments offered by the alternative medical community, I am sick of it. And it’s not just her. I’ve seen this in other doctors. I’ve even called and spoken with the nurses of doctors on my insurance plan and asked in advance what the doctor’s attitude toward these protocols would be. If they weren’t on board, I didn’t make the appointment. The ones on my insurance are never on board. The ones who are, I have to pay out of my own pocket. My pockets are very shallow.

    This is relevant in that the quest for a doctor who can practice bio-medical hormone replacement therapy, and properly test for its need, not just read me results that say “within normal range, therefore everything is fine,” who is also on my insurance is almost the same experience. I have a gripe about Oprah. She talks about this, and has guests who talk about this, like it’s the be all and end all, as you stated, but completely ignore the realities of what it is to try to find this help when you aren’t wealthy, aren’t rich, aren’t even “comfortable.”

    You can have one or the other, and that is the reality. You can have a doctor who while being an MD is also conversant in alternative medicine and knows how to test for specific levels and get bio-identical hormones, but who does not take your insurance, or you can have a doctor who takes your insurance, only knows how to read your hormones if they are so frighteningly low that you’re almost dead, and who will fill you full of pig semen with known health risks to fix the problem.

    I should have known I wasn’t going to reach the goal of brevity. So sorry for this.

    It’s good that Dr. Polaneczky tells the truth about things, but having never seen TBTAM, I do hope that includes fair and open-minded consideration of alternative medicine, because most doctors don’t have it. It’s a threat to their intellectual superiority. It seems to me that most doctors have the attitude that they worked hard to do something that is very elite and impressive in our society and they are people who have always excelled academically, and they are damned if they’re going to let some Oprah-watching civilian walk in and tell them they aren’t God.

    I’m aware I’m ranting. Sorry for that too. I feel strongly about this and as you can see, it affects me personally. It doesn’t get much more personal than one’s children. Incidentally, I watch when Oprah talks about these things, but she tells me nothing I didn’t know, because I already did my research, I already knew about it, and she and Robin are not the first to air this, Suzanne Somers was.

    In parting, mercifully, Andrea, it may “strain the budget,” but obviously you aren’t straining too hard if you can afford to go to California when you live in North Carolina. Does Dr. Carr take your insurance? Is that why you do it, or did you just want the best? Incidentally, in case you’re interested, for people who can afford to pay out of pocket, and it seems like you definitely can, there are people closer to North Carolina you can go see who are very versed in this. I would be wiling to bet you that if you can’t find naturopathic physicians, ideally naturopathic gynecologists (MDs who also practice conventional gynecology as well as the alternative stuff), in North Carolina that you can in Florida, and as a New Yorker, I can tell you that you will find them here in New York. It’s considerably less mileage and therefore, probably a less expensive commute. You could even drive it if you’re so inclined. I know two names in New York City. Patient’s Medical (google it) and Dr. Juanita Jenyons (pronounced as it looks) who is affiltiated with St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital. I can’t go see her, because she takes Cigna, but only Cigna’s PPO and I have a horrible, lower form of Cigna insurance, and even if she took my insurance, the saliva testing for hormone imbalance is not covered, but it seems that will present far less of a problem to you than to me. In these times, any strain on the budget of which you can relieve yourself is probably a good idea.

  6. And Andrea, I meant that as helpful advice…I’m very annoyed on this topic at present and it is possible for me to post things that come across as personally directed at someone that are NOT (absolutely not).

  7. Nikki,
    I wish I had a prize for longest, comment – here’s a virtual gold star for your forehead. Seriously – I appreciate that you cared enough about the topic to write so much.

    You bring up a lot of good points. I think we all need to be consumers of medical information and because we have so much information at our fingertips (the internet) and so much MISinformation at our fingertips, doctors are in a tight position. They have to see us, speak with us, diagnose us, treat us, educate us and demystify us – all in about 15 minutes.

    For a while I had an MD that was a true integrated physician. But she didn’t accept insurance and it was costly, but I paid for an hour of her time, rather than a few minutes, so I felt I got my money’s worth.

    Now I have a Physician’s assistant that’s covered under my insurance that I love.

    I really do think Oprah does a service to society when she gets folks talking about things in general. Just want to make sure that folks are informed since this is such a crazy, confusing, ever changing, topic. Check out TBTAM’s site – I think you’ll like the information that she put’s out there.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Pingback: Oprah’s Talking Hormones | My Blog

  9. Pingback: Oprah’s Talking Hormones | The Blog That Ate Manhattan

  10. I’m in the Houston area and live close by the Galleria. At almost 52 years old and having had a Total Abdominal Hyst one year ago, I’m needing help with hormones so very much. I haven’t been taking any at all, but I need to do something. I have emotional ups and downs, anxiety and stress, plus severed neck and back pain.
    Does anyone know a very good doctor in my area to help me???
    Thank you! Teri in Houston

  11. Sorry, it’s severe neck and back pain…but of course I have had MRI’s and I have disc problems. However, I don’t feel that I should be dealing with this much pain.
    I had a neuromuscular massage therapist tell me that I should check out HRT.
    So here I am….

  12. Hey Teri,
    Thanks for commenting – not sure if this site is going to give you the answers you are searching for as it’s not a gynecological blog. I would suggest you simply do a good search for gynecologists in your area and speak to him/her about your hormone replacement options. Or check out this site that lists out ob/gyn professionals by state:
    Good luck!

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