A few weeks ago, a story appeared in a national newspaper about a woman who stopped using conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after becoming concerned about the amount of weight she was gaining and a worrying rise in her blood pressure.
Denise Harding, who’s 57, endured what she described as years of ‘excruciating’ symptoms after going through early menopause following a hysterectomy 25 years ago and finally stopped her synthetic HRT treatment in favour of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT).
What’s interesting about the article isn’t the fact that she finally abandoned a treatment routinely prescribed by thousands of GPs up and down the country – a great many women have taken exactly the same decision amid fears about its effects on their health or because it simply hasn’t worked for them.
Nor is it the fact she decided, instead, to take BHRT, a plant-based compound that replicates the hormones produced naturally by the body – a great many women, when presented with the facts about menopause, have taken that decision, too.
One curious aspect of the coverage was that the Daily Mail chose to run the story at all.
Although Denise had undergone and obviously torrid time over many years with symptoms that included night sweats, incontinence, ballooning weight, escalating blood pressure and severe loss of confidence, hers is not an unfamiliar case – at The Natural Doctor we’ve seen and treated many women with similar stories.
As a medical case, then, a woman who elects to swap HRT for BHRT is no more remarkable than someone who decides to stop having physiotherapy in favour of acupuncture. In other words, hardly the stuff of national headlines.
Even more interesting, for me at least, is a single word the Daily Mail chose to include in the headline that ran above the story:
Menopausal mother who ditched HRT after it made her gain weight claims using a controversial plant-based hormone has been ‘life-changing’
There is actually very little controversy around the use of BHRT outside of the clinical medical community and Big Pharma, and no evidence to support many of the myths that continue to circulate online and in the media around treatment
In my last blog I explored the resistance that still exists around the use of BHRT and how there is no fact-based evidence that exists to support much of the criticism the treatment attracts.
Yet the fact major news outlets like the Mail continue to repeat a view of a natural health treatment that is disingenuous at best and wholly inaccurate at worst possibly explains why so many women aren’t aware that there is another option beyond conventional HRT that exists for them to escape the misery of their symptoms.
BHRT uses compounds that have precisely the same chemical and molecular structure as the key hormones naturally found in the body, making it the treatment that most closely matches the body’s own hormonal profile.
Additionally, BHRT often includes other hormones – apart from oestrogen and progesterone – that play a positive and important role in wellness among women and delivers benefits that exceed those that synthetic HRT can give.
Because BHRT includes more hormones, all of which use natural ingredients to replicate those produced by the body, it’s more effective in successfully treating a wider range of common symptoms – which means a more comfortable journey through the biological changes women experience.
When the media uses pejorative terms like controversial in talking about a treatment that has no clinical evidence to prove it is anything other than effective for a great many women, it does everyone a disservice because it removes choice.
At present, women in later life who struggle with the menopause have a binary choice: either to take a treatment that may not work for them and/or about which they may have serious reservations; or to refuse any treatment and simply ride out the misery for as long as it takes – which can often be years. And that’s no kind of choice at all.
BHRT, which is created primarily from plant extracts, presents a third option which can offer all the benefits – and more – that conventional HRT promises, with none of the health concerns that many women say make them disinclined to take treatment.
In fact, the case for BHRT has been suppressed to such an extent by an establishment that has a clear and invested financial interest in synthetic HRT that even the GP community is worryingly uninformed about it.
Those doctors that are aware of the potential benefits BHRT can give to their patients that generally ethically inclined to make sure their patients at least understand the option exists, even if they don’t quite go the extra step and prescribe it.
Denise Harding’s story is actually a wonderful advert for all the advantages I’ve outlined in this article. It’s the story of a woman who had been a prisoner of a health system that doggedly promotes a single solution to a problem where alternative solutions exist, but who then found a life-changing answer that has given her normality.
By choosing to talk of controversy rather than success, the media simply gives doctors more reasons to ignore the opportunity BHRT offers and raises an element of doubt in the minds of women where none should exist.