Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy Gets the Oprah Treatment

BlogHer Original Post

Have you heard about the latest thing to help you manage menopause, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy!?! Can you hear the tiny bit of fake enthusiasm in my tone there? I hope so because people have been talking about BHRT for a good long time. Oprah didn't discover this treatment, but it sure seems like it the way everyone has started talking about it.

17th Annual Women in Entertainment Power 100 Breakfast

Before I do any more personal commentary or link you to bloggers talking about the topic, let's look at some basic information.

What is bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and how is it different from synthetic hormone replacement therapy?

Is bioidentical hormone replacement therapy safe? Suzanne Somers says things like “Not one person has ever been harmed or died from bioidentical hormones, because they are biologically identical to the hormones the human body makes and are being used to replace what has been lost in the aging process. The fake hormones are made from pregnant horse urine, so they can be patented. They have nothing in common with the human hormone.” ... which is a really excellent way of sidestepping the question, isn't it?

"Natural" doesn't always mean safe. "Plant based" doesn't always mean safe, either. BHRT is still a drug and I think we would all do well to remember that when considering use of BHRT.

Before we jump on Oprah's bandwagon, we might also want to look at last year's FDA action against marketing of bioidenticals (1/28/9: updated to clarify the FDA action). I'm all for alternative treatments for women. I don't believe the FDA always does the best of jobs. But, I do believe it is important to carefully consider claims made by the owners and distributors of alternative treatments.

While we're thinking about that, let's also think about Suzanne Somers, who has been advocating for bioidenticals for a lot longer than Oprah has.

Many of the claims throughout the book are scientifically unproven and dangerous. By mixing quotes from qualified physicians who are experts in their fields and bioidentical hormone treatments, with those of a person with no medical or scientific background, this book will further confuse women and we believe, may potentially put their health at risk.

Now hang onto that thought, as we enter Oprah's world.

I don't care whether you love her, respect her or hate her - Oprah has the power to influence a nation, particularly a nation of women like her. Women who are overweight. Women who've had thyoid problems. Women who worry about aging. Women who are entering peri-menopause and menopause. Women like you... and yes, even like me. She is influencing women to choose bioidentical hormones.

At Everything Oprah, this pretty basic post just happens to mention how young Suzanne Somers looks. How many women who watch her on Oprah, think the same thing and immediately connect that youth to bioidenticals?

Kentucky Rumery learned stuff from watching Oprah...

I had no idea that most synthetic hormones are made from HORSE URINE! YUCK! Apparently the best to choose are called Bio Identical Hormones.

She goes on to talk more about not knowing about her treatment or her condition and to say she's going to call her doctor - that's good. But, should she really make a decision about her synthetic hormones JUST from watching a segment on Oprah?

Then again, if she has a doctor like the one Dugan's Bakery has... maybe she's just as well off having Oprah tell her how to treat her menopause symptoms as she is discussing it with her doctor.

Armed with this information we asked the doctor about them at my appointment yesterday. I explained to him all my symptoms and requested that I have my thyroid, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone tested. He asked why, and I explained that I had learned that an out of whack thyroid can cause high blood pressure and that other hormones being out of sync could cause the other symptoms I was experiencing. We further explained to him that I did not want to start taking individual drugs for the blood pressure, sleeplessness and so on. I want to get to the root of all of it and take care of it there. We also asked about compounding bioidenticals. His response is "Kaiser doesn't do that, I'll prescribe you a blood pressure medication and because I think you're depressed, I'll prescribe Prozac."

So where does all of this leave us? Right where we were before Oprah embraced BHRT. It leaves us to make difficult decisions about our health - decisions that may or may not be harmful in the long run - decisions that may or may not be helpful.

What has been your experience with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy? Or synthetic hormone replacement therapy? Will you be watching Dr Northrup talk more about bioidenticals on Oprah this week? How much influence will this series on Oprah have over your decisions about HRT and BHRT?

~~Denise
Flamingo House Happenings

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