Hormone Replacement Therapy: An Update from Science News


I received this note from the Society for Science & The Public on the topic of Hormone Replacement Therapy:

Hormone Replacement Therapy and how it impacts women’s bodies during menopause has been a longstanding debate. This week, Science News, features a piece called “Menopause Heats Up informing audiences about the biological workings of menopause and a discussion of the pros and cons of hormone replacement therapy.

In this article, Science News cites a number of reputable organizations that stress the benefits of hormone replacement therapy on the surge of hot flashes that present during menopause, but ultimately suggests treatment is a unique personal decision for all women.

The article’s author, Aimee Cunningham, is the biomedical writer at Science News. She has a degree in English from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in science journalism from New York University.

Me again: The article is clearly written and helps dispel some of the incorrect assumptions made after the release of the 2002 Women’s Health Initiative study. (My gynecologist called the day the study came out “A Black Friday for women’s menopausal health.”)

Do read Menopause Heats Up” to learn more about the pros and cons of HRT. So many women decide against HRT without really understanding the facts.

Follow Science News on Twitter.



Michele’s Story: HRT to the Rescue

headshot for Barbara

HRT or not? That’s the question for many women. My gynecologist is a strong HRT advocate. Yours may not be, or you may, for many reasons, choose not to take it. I love to present your stories on this blog. Here’s part of Michele’s menopause journey and her experience with HRT. Take it away, Michele and thanks!

There is a life on the other side of menopause, but getting through the menopause fog can be one of the scariest rides a woman will ever take. If you are reading this and you are like me, chances are you may feel like you’re driving in a car that is going to derail and end up in the gutter. Or you have just bought a ticket for the scariest roller coaster ride you’ve ever been on, and you want it to stop so that you can get off.

The desperation that I felt earlier this year was undeniable, and I just wanted to feel like I could stand on solid ground again. I knew that something in my body was terribly off balance and something was definitely wrong within me. I was convinced that it was a chemical imbalance, but none of my health care providers even gave menopause a mention or a second thought even though I was menopausal. One of them even suggested that the recent death of my father could be the cause of my symptoms, stating that grief often affects people in strange ways.

After months of a myriad of tests and a ton of out-of-pocket money, I never got a definitive diagnosis. One doctor thought it might be complex Lyme Disease causing my brain fog. Another doctor suggested that it could possibly be my thyroid causing my issues, and yet another doctor quickly prescribed an anti-depressant drug (that I did take to the pharmacy but never took a pill) because the diagnosis was attributed to grief.

One afternoon, after having yet another episode of sleeplessness, anxiety, and depression, I finally decided to take matters into my own hands. I sat down by my computer and turned to Google with a question, “I’m a 50-something year old woman who is losing her mind, and I do not know what is wrong with me.”

I was overwhelmed with over 2,000,000 hits on the topic of post menopausal symptoms and HRT replacement. I ended up on the Hormone Health Network and began reading about HRT replacement as a remedy for my symptoms.

From that site, I discovered Barbara Younger’s blog. I knew that it was an answer to my prayers for help in getting back to my normal self again. I quickly fired off an email to Barbara saying,

     “Hi – I found your blog thru the Hormone Health Network when I was searching for HRT alternatives to deal with the brain fog that I believe is being caused by Menopause. I’m a 50-something yr old (ruptured brain aneurysm survivor) who thought she was losing her mind or worse. For the past several months I’ve had anxiety, mild depression, trouble sleeping, profuse sweating, etc. I’ve had CAT scans, blood work, etc and no one suggested it may be Menopause. Yikes! Anyway, I have scheduled an app’t with a gyno and an Endocrinologist doctor but in the meantime, I’m wondering if you used HRT and that led to your endometrial cancer? I truly feel like I am in need of HRT.

Looking forward to your response (and praying that this “roller coaster” comes to a halt before I jump off!)
Sincere love,

Here’s one line from Barbara’s email reply:

Menopause causes lots of body/mind changes, and that’s just what your case sounds like to me.

I made an appointment with an endocrinologist, and he ordered blood tests. Within 2 days, he personally called me to say that my estrogen levels had tanked. Because my uterus was still intact, he thought that the best course of treatment would be the Combi-Patch which contains both female hormones: an estrogen (estradiol) and a progestin (norethindrone). The application is twice a week, and he mentioned it would be low dose for a short period of time until my body responded. The doctor assured me that we could monitor my progress together.

It has been one month since I began using the patch, and I can happily share with you that I AM MY HAPPY SELF AGAIN! Yay!

What a difference a month and a little hormone replacement can make. I got a part-time job at a farm market, where I love to shop, and my marriage is back on solid ground. My friends have even begun to invite us to social gatherings again (now that they realize I’m not a crazy person).

I’ve decided to share my story with others because I’m alive to be able to do so. Two months ago, I was actually considering whether or not it was worth going through another tortuous day. Imagine that!

Just yesterday, I took the dog for an early morning walk and looked up at a beautiful sunrise and thought, “thank God for Google leading me to other women like Barbara who were brave enough to share their story.”

I’ve decided to share my menopause story because I want to be “brave” and save others from crashing like I did.

I am also going to write it all down so that one day our girls can read all about it just in case they come face-to-face with the menopause demon and get stuck on a scary roller coaster ride. They will realize that HRT replacement can help them bring that roller coaster to a halt and get them back on solid ground again.

Much love to all of you from a sister who no longer suffers from menopause side-effects,


Michele and Family

Michele Starkey is a graduate of the Christian Writers Guild and has written several devotionals and Bible studies. Her stories have been published by Adams Media, F&W Publications, and Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Since rediscovering life post-menopause, she is currently working part-time at a family- owned produce store where she loved to shop.

After living the world over, she resides in the Hudson Valley of New York with her beloved husband, Keith, and their rescued dog, Duffy. They are all anxiously awaiting the birth of the first of many grandchildren who will bless their lives.

Read more:


The Twelve Days of Hormones (and a Giveaway)


Here’s an excerpt from Anne Bardsley’s How I Earned My Wrinkles: Musings on Marriage, Motherhood, and Menopause. Take it away, Anne!

I went to my doctor to get my hormone levels tested and found out that my progesterone was very low. I’m convinced that this is the hormone responsible for working out, keeping the house tidy, and creating delicious gourmet meals. I think it may even have some control over sexual desire.

I should’ve known something wasn’t right. I was feeling horizontal lately—as in, I laid down at every opportunity. No gym, no vacuuming, no exotic dinners … no thoughts of wild times under the sheets.

In addition to my progesterone, I was told that my testosterone was also a tad low. My doctor said I needed hormone replacement therapy, but he warned that I may grow hair, my voice may get deeper, and my libido may increase with my new hormone routine. Hairy with a manly voice and amorous tendencies … the combo was sure to be my husband’s worst nightmare!

After thirty-five years of marriage, we’re really pretty good together. We talk about anything and everything. There had never been any secrets. Until those little hormones came about. Did I really want to tell him what could happen to me once the hormones kicked in? Maybe he wouldn’t notice. There was no need to scare the poor man away.

So I quietly began the hormone replacement therapy.

On the first day of hormones, there was no change.

On the second day of hormones, I felt a bit amorous.

On the third day, I noticed more hair in my armpits.

On the fourth day, I looked at myself in the mirror, and I said, “Looking good, Baby!” in a husky voice. This cannot be happening.

On the fifth day of hormones, I felt the need to tug at my netherlands.

On the sixth day, Scott said, “Your voice is getting deeper than mine.”

On the seventh day of hormones, I bought a set of barbells.

On the eighth day, Scott asked, “Is that a mustache on your face?”

On the ninth day, I told Scott he was acting like a girl.

On the tenth day, he asked, “Were you staring at me in the shower this morning?”

On the eleventh day, Scott woke up with a sunburn. Apparently, I had a hot flash that night.

On the twelfth day, we were at a nice restaurant and I asked, “Want to arm wrestle?”

I knew my testosterone was in high gear when I asked, “Can you teach me to field strip an M-16 and put it back together blindfolded? I really want to go to the shooting range.”

His response was short and sweet. “I want that doctor’s number and I want it now!”

Here’s to hormones and husbands!

Giveaway: To win a copy of Anne’s witty and insightful collection of musings, simply leave a comment below saying you’d like to be the winner. Please post comments by October 1. U.S. and Canada only. Thanks!



Anne Bardsley is a humor writer, blogger, and author of How I Earned My Wrinkles: Musings on Marriage, Motherhood, and Menopause.

Over the years, her work has appeared in several publications. More would be available if she was not so busy pondering ways to firm her thighs. This uses a huge amount of her already limited brain cells. She barely survived raising five kids. They were all worth the labor pains in the long run and have given her wonderful grandchildren. Anne currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida with her husband of thirty-five years and two spoiled cockapoos


Guest Post: Menopause–I Chose the Meds

A guest post by physician Judy Washington:

Menopause was not easy for me. I need to be high functioning at all times as a very busy Family Physician.  I have spent years counseling women about menopause and how to manage it.

Funny thing happened on the way to turning 50.  I experienced menopause. It was a totally mind altering and mind-numbing experience.  I admire those women who can tough it out.  I am not one of them.

The first time I went to a lecture on Bioidentical Hormone Therapy I was 40.  The co-presenter was a beautiful female Family Physician.  She talked about having fatigue, difficulty sleeping and concentrating and feeling like she had a serious illness but all the usual tests were normal.

She started Bioidentical Hormone therapy by consulting with a compounding pharmacy.  Her presentation was about using saliva testing to measure hormone levels.  I jumped right in consulting and started writing prescriptions for patients.  I have never gotten so many grateful hugs.

Then the research brought some doubts about the safety and risks.  After that, I spent time examining the evidence regarding benefits, risks and quality of life.

I was secretly hoping it would never happen to me.  I changed my diet, increased my running, and  started yoga and pilates.  Caving in to overwhelming gastrointestinal distress, I stopped the soy and the other natural stuff because of an allergy to some of the plants and tree nuts.

The symptoms hit and I was knocked off my feet. No really, I had one hot flash that was so bad I almost fainted.

That was while working with a resident.  She said and I quote, “Dr. Washington, are you having a hot flash? My mother gets those.”

Actually, I was held hostage by fatigue, hot flashes, and body aches.  All my blood work was normal.  I had to see patients, teach residents and medical students, perform surgical procedures, prepare lectures and attend meetings.

Well, it is hard when you are burning up one minute, cold the next and you can’t sleep.

My husband was a good sport and very empathetic. Fortunately for me, my best friend is an OB/GYN and a menopause specialist.  Her words of wisdom were, “Do what you think is best, but I am taking the hormones and I have no regrets”.

Well, I started the hormones and haven’t had a moment of regret.   Sorry naturalists.  I chose the drugs. Yes, compounded progesterone in olive oil and estradiol.

This choice is not right for every woman.  It was for me.

I will be 5 years into my decision May 2013.

At that time, I will start to taper my medication dose as recommended by the medical literature.

We will just have to wait and see.  My friend actually is a few years older than me and after a 5 year hiatus is delivering babies again and having a great time.

Judy Washington, MD FAAFP, is a board-certified Family Physician.  She has spent her medical career first in private practice and later in medical education. She is now working as a college health physician.