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Can We Prevent Menopause? Should We?

Posted Mar 21 2010 2:43pm

Recently, I came across a conversation on one of my favorite websites, Vibrant Nation , asking the question “Can We Prevent Menopause?”

It was started by a woman who calls herself BHRT For Me. Here’s what she wrote:

“I came across this site: http://www.preventingmenopause.com/

I think preventing menopause altogether makes good sense. I’m 57 and I keep saying that I am treating my symptoms of menopause with bioidentical hormones, when really what I want is to stop menopause. I realized that when I saw this site.

I cycle every month and have never been without periods because of the hormones I use. Still, don’t we stop ovulating because we are out of eggs? How do you prevent the loss of eggs?

Interesting concept though, since we live so much longer now (average life expectancy of a woman in 1900 was about 48).”

Responses from readers varied from enthusiastic to appalled. Of course, every woman has to choose her own path navigating the wild woods of Menopause, so the variety of responses was not surprising.

Then a perceptive reader who calls herself Dallas Lady posed this question to BHRT For Me:

“If it makes you feel better and you are OK with it–that is all that matters.

But I am curious and for the sake of full transparency I feel compelled to ask
Do you have a professional interest in BHRT? Do you receive any income whatsoever from any source associated from BHRT?

It just seems unusual to me that it is so central to your identity that you choose that as a “screen name” on here and your reference to a website also struck me as a bit of an unexpected endorsement not usually seen by those here unless they have a sales interest.”

I kept checking back to see her answer. And there was nothing. Nada. Zip.

Oh, she managed to answer and converse with several other readers, but Dallas Lady’s question went unanswered.

That bugged me. But I figured I’d best give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she hadn’t seen Dallas Lady’s query. So I wrote the following:

“I have to say that preventing menopause sounds like preventing puberty. Menopause is not a disease, although I do concur that it can freaking feel like one sometimes.

I take BHRT in a low dose, did not start until I had fully transitioned into menopause for a couple years, so no periods for me. (Which I gotta say seems a little weird for any woman to have periods when we are meant to cease -just like it would be strange not to start having cycles when we hit our teens.)

I am taking hormones because of horrendous hot flashes and other symptoms. I plan to decrease and discontinue them soon. Other parts of our body begin to make estrogen after our ovaries seemingly come to a screeching halt, though it may take a little time. I think (read hope) mine might be kicking back in. But I sure don’t expect (or even want) my hormones to be at the same level as in my thirties.

There is no one right answer or solution for treating a woman’s menopause. Every woman must weigh risks vs benefits, severity of symptoms, and general life quality – then decide if or which remedies to take. Bioidentical hormones are one choice, as are soy, herbs, and the like. Or meditation. Or nothing.

No one thing works for every one – (and some things that work for a while may not work later.) Also everything may entail risk for a particular individual woman.

I am also very curious as to why I did not see an answer from you to Dallas Lady’s question about whether you have a professional or financial interest in BHRT and/or the website you mention. I believe she asked a very clear question – I tell all the women who write me on Wellsphere or my Menopause Goddess Blog site to be wary of any site or person that advocates one right answer for their menopause (or any health issue.) FYI – I do not receive any monies for my website or my involvement in Wellsphere. I always hope that sales of my book (The Big M) will keep me afloat. But it is a labor of love and as a health care professional and activist, I’ll keep going.

Would love to know more about your connection to the website – please answer here. thanks so much for bringing up the topic.”

Lynette Sheppard RN
Menopause Community Health Maven, Wellsphere.com
Creator/Moderator Menopause Goddess Blog
Blog Circle Contributor Vibrant Nation and Jane Nation
Menopause Examiner for Examiner.com
Author of “ The Big M

Yep, I put in all my credentials just to make sure I got an answer. And did I? Of course not. Which brings me to the one Latin phrase I remember from nursing school: caveat emptor. Let the buyer beware. That’s you. And me.

I checked out the website she was pushing. It appears to be a one-right-answer site. And I couldn’t really ascertain who it represented. Another reason for caveat emptor.

I’m not at all bothered by BHRT’s choice of name for herself or by her wholehearted enthusiasm for her topic. I wouldn’t fault her for pushing an agenda that she might profit from. I do fault withholding information that might help us make informed decisions.

The question might not be “Can We Prevent Menopause”, but rather “Should We?” And “What Are the Costs?” What do you think?

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