New guidance on hormone replacement therapy

July 16, 2012 11:36:47 AM PDT
A decade ago, a study on hormone replacement after menopause scared many doctors and women because of reported side effects. But this week, medical groups are taking issue with that fear, and have made a surprising recommendation.

Many doctors and patients misinterpreted that study. Anxious women stopped the drugs, but this week over a dozen doctors' and women's groups said hormones are safe after menopause.

Businesswoman Teresa Carleo, 58, doesn't look her age, but that didn't stop her from going through menopause.

"I had a lot of depression, anxiety, bloating, just general misery, hot flashes. I wasn't happy," she said

Kathie Wettstein first tried plant-based alternatives for her symptoms.

"We tried some. They worked. They made me feel a little bit better, but I still wasn't feeling myself," she said.

Both these women will be pleased with this week's announcement, a joint statement by fifteen medical and women's groups, that hormone replacement therapy is safe treatment for the symptoms of menopause, especially in younger women.

"I think this is an answer to a prayer, as far as I'm concerned," Dr. Michelle Warren at Columbia University Medical Center.

"If you really read the science literature, it's all been very favorable about the use of estrogen for the right woman," Dr. Lila Nachtigall of NYU Langone Medical Center said.

Hormone replacement got a bad rap from the 2002 study. The study started hormone in women ten, twenty, even thirty years after their menopause. The results in those women were skewed towards a worse outcome.

"As a result doctors just gave up and patients were made to feel that they should just suffer," Dr. Warren said.

Without hormone replacement?

"Those women need it and you put them on it, and then their internist takes them off it because he or she is still ten years behind," Dr. Nachtigall said.

This week's announcement is to bring everyone up to date on the research that treatment is safe.

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