• What's Wrong With This Picture?

    by Sharan Abdul-Rahman, MD
    on Dec 16th, 2015

Despite the medical establishment telling women that compounded hormonal replacement for menopausal systems is not FDA regulated, approved or recommended women have continued to see health care providers who will prescribed these "tailored menopause hormone therapy" at great financial cost to these women.

The premise is that various hormones decline with menopause /aging. By testing and then prescribing for the "deficient" hormones, symptoms will disappear and enhance overall well being. The hormone levels are tested repeatedly often on a quarterly basis and the hormone prescriptions are then adjusted accordingly. These compounded hormone therapies are made at specialty pharmacies were are not regulated by the FDA. The hormones can contain DHEA, estriol, hCG and/or estrone. The hormones can given in a variety of ways including injections pellets, lozenges, tablets, skin patches and creams.

FDA approved medications are mass produced by large pharmaceutical companies with required specifications to amount and content.

The medical establishment has accused the makers and proponents of compounded hormone therapy of misleading the women into believing that their products were safer and more natural.

In order to better gauge this phenomenon, the North American Menopause Society conducted an online consumer survey to assess the extent of use compounded menopause therapy and to characterize the women who used them. To be eligible a woman had to be between age 40 and 84 years and either postmenopausal or going through menopause transition.
156,240 women were sent online surveys
22,105 women responded
3,725 women met the eligibility criteria
1,062 women who met criteria were either current or past users of menopause hormone therapy

The majority of the menopausal / menopause transitioning women (71%) did not use any hormone therapy.

Other than users of FDA approved hormone therapy being slightly older, the demographics between non users and users of menopause hormone therapy did not differ significantly. Among the current and past users of menopause hormone therapy, 326 women (31%) used compounded menopause hormone therapy and 738 women (69%) used FDA approved menopause hormone therapy

The results showed
~33% women surveyed didn't know if they were taking FDA approved medications.
25% of the FDA approved HT users thought "bio-identical" & "natural" meant safer/ 51% of them were unsure
42% of the compounded HT users thought "bio-identical" & "natural" meant safer/ 35% of them were unsure

Large percentages of women are either misinformed or uninformed about menopause hormone therapy.

The established medical community should question how they helped to create the confusion regarding menopause hormone therapy. The premise of compounded hormone therapy is reasonable. It needs to be tested and verified. Let's resolve the confusion and provide better health care to women.

Author Sharan Abdul-Rahman, MD

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