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Hormone Replacement Therapy, Menopause and Bioidenticals - Show Recap

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Original Air Date:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hormone Replacement Therapy - Beginning the Conversation:

Because so many women are going through life feeling off, or not quite themselves - just getting through the day - Oprah wanted to bring the discussion of menopause and the use of hormone replacement therapy into the open. With the beginning of the conversation in the February issue of O Magazine, Oprah wanted to dive further into the topic on the show.

Oprah especially wanted to bring the conversation to women of all ages, saying, ""If you're a woman who's planning to live past the age of 35, at some point you're going to face hormone imbalance. All women need to be armed with this information."

Robin McGraw's Experience:

Robin McGraw, wife of Dr. Phil, joined the show and shared with Oprah her experience with feeling as if she had lost her zest for life - which started before she reached menopause. When Robin had her first hot flash at 44, she felt off and knew she was too young to be fully experiencing menopause.

Robin understood that something was off in her body and began talking to doctors and trying to learn how she could get her body back in balance. Wanting to share her experience getting her hormones back in check with other women going through the same experience, Robin wrote the book What's Age Got to Do with It? and explains hormone replacement therapy.

Robin shared that dealing with her mother's death she realized that it was important to take care of herself for her sons.

Feeling both physical and emotional symptoms, Robin sought the help of her doctor to try and resolve the problem, with negative results.

Robin explained that when she approached her doctor, she was told that she was going through menopause and given a prescription for hormones - even though she wanted to understand what she was doing first. Describing her experience in refusing the treatment, Robin shared her doctor's response as, "'Oh you'll be back. Trust me' - I think the one moment that sealed my fate was when she said, 'and also fill this because you're going to need it' - and it was antidepressants."

Dr. Christiane Northrup Explains HRT:

Dr. Christiane Northrup joined the conversation to help "life the veil of shame around menopause" by revealing that peri-menopause can last for 10 years for some women and symptoms can appear as early as the late 20s. After showing clips of 3 women who are desperate for help and feel out of themselves, Oprah expressed that she wanted women to know that help is out there.

Michelle, 45, from Ontario appeared via Skype to share her symptoms of exhaustion, feelings of sickness, lack of sleep, bad attitude and lack of focus with a nightmare of being told her hormone levels are 'completely normal.'

Dr. Christiane Northrup Defines Menopause and Hormones:

Dr. Northrup defined some of the common terms as:

  • Menopause: permanent end of menstrual periods
  • Peri-Menopause: the transitional phase that leads to menopause; typically lasting 5-8 years; begins around 45
  • Symptoms: trouble sleeping, mood swings, hot flashes, irregular periods, night sweats, irritability
  • Estrogen: the hormone that prepares the egg for ovulation and the body for pregnancy: HIGH = bloating, weight gain, headaches, water retention, breast tenderness LOW = hot flashes, vaginal dryness
  • Testosterone: the hormone that controls libido and sexual function: HIGH = aggressiveness, facial hair, increased sex drive LOW = mood swings, low sex drive
  • Progesterone: the hormone that calms and prepares the body for pregnancy: HIGH = sleepiness, depression, lethargy LOW = irritability, pms symptoms
  • History of HRT and Bioidentical vs Synthetic:

    To explain the history of hormone replacement therapy, Dr. Northrup described how the topic has been confusing and controversial since the 1960s when the benefits of estrogen were first widely published. Ever since, doctors have gone back and forth over the benefits and possible side effects of hormone replacement therapy.

    To help women understand the basic difference, Dr. Northrup explained how bioidentical hormones are created from soy and yams to match the molecular structure of the hormones the human body creates naturally; while synthetics are made from horse urine and combined with progestin for humans.

    Dr. Wulf Utian - North American Menopause Society:

    Oprah added a segment from Dr. Wulf Utian from the North American Menopause Society and the Cleveland Clinic where he shared his thoughts on HRT. Dr. Utian expressed that women should be aware of the multi-billion dollar industry HRT represents and the hype surrounding the use of hormones. Because all hormones are created in a lab, says Dr. Utian, none of them are completely natural. Due to the lack of proof for safety, Dr. Utian suggests women take a low dose of an FDA approved product. Dr. Northrup agreed and urged women to work with doctors as a team when it comes to HRT.

    Linda Experiences the Hall Center for Treatment:

    A special segment showed a viewer, Linda, seeking treatment from Dr. Prudence Hall (who happens to be Robin McGraw's doctor) at the Hall Center in Santa Monica, California. Dr. Oz spoke with Linda where she described her symptoms of irritability, constant hot flashes, sleepless nights and a lower sex drive.

    When Linda's levels were tested by Dr. Hall, it was revealed that she had very low estrogen (normal = 250, Linda = 11), low progesterone (normal = 10-15ng per 1ml blood, Linda = .3), low testosterone (normal = 50-80, Linda = 48) and very high follicle stimulating hormone (normal = 2-5, peri-menopausal normal = 6-19, Linda = 99).

    Linda was treated with 2mg of estrogen 2x a day, 150mg progesterone 2x a day for 2 weeks, and 2.5mg testosterone 1x daily. Linda was in the audience and shared how she felt tremendously better in just 7 days with treatment.

    Take Control of Your Health:

    Robin expressed at the end of the show that going through peri-menopause was the best thing that happened to her because it taught her how to work with her doctors as a team and feel the healthiest she ever has in her life.

    Dr. Northrup added that the wisdom of menopause is really about being in the driver seat of your life and take charge of your health and every area of your life.

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