13 Feb Whether to use HRT
Some fabulous resources to help you decide whether to use HRT
Something every mid-life woman will have to ponder is whether to use HRT (hormone replacement therapy) or not. There’s a lot of evidence for the arguments of both sides of the coin. So much so that it can get downright confusing. Even many GPs aren’t as informed on the subject as we would hope them to be.
It’s great that the subject of menopause has become much more acceptable to talk about. In my mother’s day it was whispered about (“oh, she’s going through the change”). Today, it’s openly discussed on everything from instagram to LinkedIn. This is good. Menopause can have a huge impact on our ability to work, to support ourselves, tend our families and on our visibility. Once confident women report suddenly asking themselves, “where did she go?” as the ballsy woman they once were fades away.
I can talk about doing the work, and getting visible as much as I want, but if feeling s**t is stopping you doing what needs to be done, that needs to be addressed. High profile celebrities like Davina McColl and Carol Vorderman have been vociferous in coming out in favour of HRT. I’ve watched many of my own friends start it and swear by it.
Nevertheless, for those of us with family or personal histories of breast cancer or deep vein thrombosis, the decision whether to use HRT can be agonising. We are literally adding up risks in our heads. When we read something that says it will double your risk, our alarm bells go off, hardly giving us time to really investigate what that means. Fear can take over.
The decision whether to use HRT is a very personal one. Then, once you’ve committed to that road, there could be a number of iterations of different treatments to find the one that is right for you. I recently decided to take the step of using HRT, despite having a close family member with breast cancer. I am on oestrogel and utrogestan. These are body identical hormones that my GP has prescribed. I’m on a low dose, which seems to be working well. It’s early days but already I feel much perkier, with more energy than I can remember having for a while.
What I can tell you from personal experience is:
- You need to find a GP who will take you seriously and is open to HRT. Some are not
- Reading about this yourself is the only way to understand what it means for you. Take responsibility for yourself
- You can still listen to friends. It wasn’t until talking to a friend who had done a lot of reading that I came across the subject of micronised progesterone. This is meant to be more easily absorbed and have less side effects. Knowing this, I was able to guide my GP to it as she was as unaware as I was
- HRT is not an excuse to eat badly, forget to exercise or look after yourself. You need to help your HRT do the work
This may sound like I am singing the praises of HRT, but I am still early days and curious about how it will work for me. I have a few friends who have gone down the natural route, and they are happy with that choice. It eliminates the risk of worry for them (although HRT is apparently preventative in the case of colorectal cancer and some other diseases). There are many sites and resources out there with helpful information if you decide to go down this route.
Here are some sites that I have been reading and found to be excellent resources on HRT.
An excellent look at the risks and benefits in a way that is easy to understand
A beautiful site that covers not only menopause but beauty and lifestyle features for any woman at this time of life.
A friendly forum that is supportive and often knowledgable. Don’t make any changes to your dose or make decisions on this alone. Always consult your GP or private menopause consultant first.
Very informative if you have decided to stick with the natural route.
The nutrition and well-being angle.
Choosing whether to take HRT can be confusing. This is something we can cover in Be Luminous. The is my coaching programme to make your fifties and beyond even better than what;’s gone before.