Hormones or No Hormones?

Some twelve years ago, at a restaurant at Trichi, I made that prediction. We were on our way to thanjore to attend a conference. The hot topic of those days were hormone replacement therapy for the menopaused.  Lekha, my classmate was in all support and was arguing vehemently for the HRT. There I said, ‘In ten years time there won’t be any hormone replacement. This is just a passing fad!’ Sure it was not a learned opinion. Actually it just came out of my pure jealousy, for we men had nothing of such kind. We too had problems, who says we don’t?

My classmates, almost all of them ladies virtually tore me down. They said in ten years time every middle aged women will be taking the pill. That ten years have passed. And none of us were correct!

Those days, we thought it would take care of every middle aged problem, spare arranging marriage for the children. (Even that was thought possible, for it enhanced mood, memory and cognition.) We counseled ladies, once you stopped having your periods, all your bones will go weak and it start breaking altogether. We told them, your heart will get clogged with all those ‘cholesterols’ and you are the next in the line for an ‘attack’. We in our kind of society was shy to talk about sex and libido, still we sure did give some hints.  There was some concern about the risk of breast cancer. Then again we had data. So we reassured them, ‘HRT sure increases the risk of breast cancer, may be three or four unfortunate females in a lot, but not before it protects the hearts of a thousand!

So HRT was a panacea. The best thing ever happened after the creation of Eve.

Of course there were skeptics. They thought about alternate ways. (Even they were not daring enough to say that, it is simply a transition phase in life and we have to take it up with dignity and wisdom. But I am a man and I won’t understand!) There came all those multivitamins, anti oxidants and pound soyas. There were advocates for yoga, meditation and even regular coitus. Our Professor had a simple revelation; he said it isn’t fair to advise regular coitus, for many women of that age, a capable mate is a distant possibility.  So one of my Madams went a step further, and recommended in her next presentation- ‘regular masturbation’.

So twelve years have passed. Data and experience accumulating. In between someone called Women’s Health Initiative came up with some startling information.  HRT actually increase the chances of cardiac accidents and strokes. So is the risk of thrombo embolism. Contrary to the earlier belief, estrogen only therapy actually showed a decreased chance for breast cancer, but gets cancelled once you add progesterone which is supposed to protect your uterus from cancer. So the effect is nullified.

So, where stands the HRT now?

The scientific community presently recommends it purely as therapeutic and definitely not as prophylactic as we used to.  For those of you having ‘hot flushes’ and dryness HRT is still there and hormone is the gold standard. For every one else, you are flooded with choices but not hormones.