12 June 2003 HRT Confusion Drives Search For Alternatives
Despite a second round of disappointing results from the latest study into the health effects associated with hormone replacement therapy (HRT), some physicians are recommending that their patients remain on HRT as they believe the benefits outweigh the risks. According to these doctors, symptoms such as hot flashes, insomnia, weight gain, sexual dysfunction and headaches have such a detrimental effect on quality-of-life that the only responsible course of action is continuation of HRT, despite the risks now associated with it.
Cora E. Lewis, M.D., a principal investigator for the latest Women's Health Initiative study believes that each case must be evaluated individually on its merits, but according to Lewis, the most important message is that the risks outweigh the benefits in older women when considering long-term use. "It is important that women of any age consult with their physician about their individual risks and benefits, and the reason for taking or initiating hormone therapy. And, women should continue to reevaluate those reasons and not become complacent with simply refilling prescriptions out of habit", she said.
The confusion surrounding the risks of long term synthetic HRT has prompted many women to examine natural treatments which may be of benefit. Typically, remedies such as Black Cohosh, natural progesterone, dong quai, soy, flaxseed oil and others will be cited by proponents as a cure-all for many of the symptoms associated with perimenopause and menopause. Each of these remedies may offer some benefit to women but according to Katie Ham of WomenToWomen - a health care practice specializing in health care for women - it's unlikely that they will bring total relief. "What we've learned at WomenToWomen is that the greatest chance of total relief comes from a program that combines multiple methods in a format that's personalized for each recipient. We've been formulating personalized hormonal balancing plans for women for over 17 years and every woman is different. To deliver real improvements each program must be personalized," she said.
WomenToWomen employ a methodology that uses Nurse-Educators who consult on an individual basis to design each member's program. "We do it either online or via the telephone. The program takes in what nutritional supplements are required, a menu plan, a health screener, progesterone cream and other products if they're needed. We remove the confusion created by the array of alternative medicines on offer," said Ham.
Ham claims that 85% of women who enroll in their program will see improvements in their symptoms within 2-3 weeks.