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Looking Back at Women’s Health in 2012

Posted Dec 31 2012 3:19pm

As 2012 sputters to an end and we enter 2013, I couldn’t resist taking a look back at some of the issues which were a part of women’s health.

“They” say that the best predictor of the future is to examine the past. Honestly, I’m not so sure I totally buy into that axiom.

But, if looking back can provide more clarity going forward in women’s health, then perhaps it’s worth the effort.

In 2012, after a good ten years of ducking and running for cover post-Women’s Health Initiative study, the medical community reconsidered its position on hormone replacement therapy.

Medical journals, physicians, and even NAMS (North American Menopause Society) took an “official” reverse position on the safety of synthetic hormone replacement therapy; even suggesting that perhaps the collective reaction of the medical community to the Women’s Health Initiative study was a bit rash.

As a lowly, women’s health blogger and graduate student still earning her academic stripes, I’m certainly in no position to “officially” challenge NAMS, medical journals, or physicians on their new, emergent positions. But, I am still not convinced that this trend back toward synthetic hormone replacement therapy as a standard protocol for women in perimenopause is a great idea – official or not.

But, that’s just me.

Also in 2012, and perhaps in reaction to NAMS, et al., bioidentical hormones became more main stream. Unfortunately, there are still plenty of physicians who refuse to consider that bioidentical hormones are a safe and effective alternative to synthetic hormones, but, hey, we’re making a little headway.

Compounding pharmacies, which, by the way, provide bioidentical hormones for hundreds of thousands of women every year, were at the center of a national health scandal story in 2012, thanks to an outbreak of fungal meningitis which took the lives of over twenty patients across the country.

The story has long since fallen off the radar, but the safety of compounding pharmacies and their lack of federal regulatory oversight by the FDA was big news for women’s health. Whether congress and lawmakers will follow through with their threats to bring compounding pharmacies under federal regulatory guidelines still remains to be seen.

My personal guess is “yes.” But, stay tuned.

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