Can We Prevent Menopause? Should We?

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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9 Responses to Can We Prevent Menopause? Should We?

  1. Betty Zahler March 22, 2010 at 8:38 am #

    Of course menopause is a natural part of the aging process. I have found that easing into a stressful situation with a positive attitude, really works. Having patience and not dwelling on the unpleasant side effects. Our mental as well as the physical work together,so once again being positive is the key.

  2. Cynthia March 22, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

    It’s a sad comment on our culture that your skepticism here is so often warranted.

  3. Theresa March 22, 2010 at 4:41 pm #

    Knowing your eternal optimisim in life and your quest to try and see things through various perspectives, I can tell that putting forth an article filled with skepticism and warnings took a great deal of thought and internal conflict. I thank you for your continuing passion and honesty in a world filled with “what’s in it for me.”
    In my own line of work, I am fortunate to have met so many wonderful people with a “bigger picture” mentality. Yet daily, I read and hear misinformation posted from “experts” and sadly, many seeking answers are led down the wrong path. After all, “it was on the internet – therefore it must be true.” We all need to remember that information posted on the internet is only as good as the source that posted it.
    Please continue with your good work. We all need it.

  4. Jenny March 23, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

    Dear Lynette,
    Thank you for the post! Very interesting. I will out and out say that I work for a center that does bioidentical hormones and the way I even came across your blog is because we’re always on the lookout for chatter about bioidentical hormones. Rarely do we comment with the exception of when people are posting downright untruths about bioidenticals. And yes, it’s true that we should be aware that not everything on the web is gospel or in print for that matter, (SO TRUE) but I have to mention in defense of BHRT for Me, she/he was just trying to get a conversation started about what they do, which in my opinion isn’t a bad thing as long as it’s the truth. And like you said, it’s always different for everyone. EXCEPT in the instance of synthetic hormones which I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Sorry I had to say it! 🙂

    We will have to check out your book as a staff. Please keep spreading the word about embracing menopause naturally!
    Jenny Perot

  5. LynetteSh March 23, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    Dear Jenny,
    I totally agree that she was starting a great conversation (in fact I thanked her for it.) I have no problem with anyone making their living with bioidentical hormones or any other treatment. Hey, I want someone to be enthused about what they do that helps people. And Goddess knows, my own experience with BHRT has been wonderful.
    I have a problem with someone who answers all comments except the ones asking for a little transparency. The people (more than Dallas Lady ultimately) who asked were just ignored. And I gotta say, that bugged me. The same way it bugs me if MD’s don’t answer questions about alternatives. As you can see. Okay, enough soapbox.

    Thank you so much for writing and for all that you folks do to save our health, relationships, and sanity. I am a big fan.

  6. Barbara March 23, 2010 at 9:28 pm #

    Dear Friends:
    There is some great information about bio-identical hormones on http://www.progesteroneresearchnetwork.com
    Might help someone to make an informed decision, We all know that knowledge does bring a certain power to the forefront. and this is a major decision for women

  7. nayantara December 28, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    preventing menopause is welcome. no woman wants to lose her sex appeal . all have right to look as good as men who look good at the same age as menopausal age of women . i feel insecure as i think i am hitting menopause at age of 48 .

  8. Jane Bogner March 12, 2013 at 6:52 am #

    After watching my mother go thru hell with traditional medicines over the last 50 years, I am opting out of western medicine and doing BHRT all the way. After starting my own menopause path and having symptoms that kept me from participating in my life, BHRT pulled me from the depths of dispair. Now I look great and feel great but looking good was not part of my motivation. It was a benefit I wasn’t expecting. Now my gall bladder, pancreas, and brain are all functioning very well. No need to have the gall bladder removed or think about insulin. My body took care of that and I credit BHRT. So I don’t look at it like “stopping menopause”…I look at it like successfully surviving menopause. I do think not answering the question at all is very suspicious, but like the others said,it is what got this great conversation going. We women need to stick together!!

  9. LynetteSh March 14, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    Absolutely we need to stick together. I went off BHRT a year and a half ago – then had my hormones tested and found all levels in the toilet even for a post Menopausal goddess. So am back on BHRT and feeling pretty perky. And yes, successfully surviving, even thriving during Menopause – all for it!

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