Issues in Hormone Therapy

Doctors Unwilling to Prescribe HRT Use It Themselves

08/3/12 12:41 AM
Hormone Replacement Therapy

Image by: Kedai Lelaki | Flickr.com

In light of recent evidence of higher incidences of blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes, hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, has attracted widespread controversy. While the practice of prescribing HRT has been on a downward trend, new studies reveal that many doctors who are unwilling to recommend HRT to patients have no problems using it themselves.

Background

Effective medical uses of HRT cannot be discounted. HRT involves identifying hormones that are deficient in the body and introducing synthetic versions to combat related issues. Introduced in 1941, HRT is not exactly a new science. It was thought up as a remedial response to the uncomfortable effects of menopause. Since its inception, hormone replacement therapy has expanded to serve a myriad of uses, including:

  • Symptoms of menopause, namely hot flashes, excessive sweating (particularly at night), vaginal dryness, migraines, dementia, and others. HRT serves to supplement the dwindling amounts of progesterone and estrogen circulating in a woman’s system.
  • Age-related diseases, like osteoporosis, certain kinds of cancer, and Alzheimer’s, have shown to be delayed and even relieved by the implementation of HRT, although this has only been proven effective with the use of non-synthetic, human hormones.
  • Transgender individuals often forego surgical procedures in favor of HRT for sex reassignment therapy, as it is far less invasive and provides a more gradual transition.

New Facts Come to Light

With a number of applications and a high rate of success, it is somewhat surprising to find that many doctors avoid suggesting hormone replacement therapy to their patients. A 2010 study examined over 2,500 gynecologists in Germany for discrepancies between the treatments they administered versus the treatments they partook in themselves.

The researchers found that in cases of menopausal symptoms, especially hot flashes, nearly all of the gynecologists advocated HRT to ease discomfort. On the other hand, the survey also concluded that nearly two-thirds of the doctors were willing to take HRT themselves or give it to loved ones for osteoporosis, but only 75% of that number had or would mention the method to a patient suffering from early onset or advanced osteoporosis.

Possible Reasons

HRT has been a contentious form of treatment since 2002, when research from the Women’s Health Initiative linked HRT to the occurrence of heart disease and stroke in women. But if the health risks are so great, why would doctors prescribe hormones for certain symptoms and not for others, and why are they keen to use hormones on themselves and loved ones but not on their patients?

One motive may be that people in the healthcare industry are more aware of current medical trials than the average person. While the Women’s Health Initiative study caused a stir among HRT users, there may be other less publicized studies that either contest the earlier research or prove a lower level of associated risk.

Doctors may also want to avoid inviting medical disputes in connection with their practices, which would put their careers and livelihoods at risk over what may be either coincidence or hypochondria. On top of that, there are other developed methods for easing or deferring symptoms of osteoporosis, cancer, and Alzheimer’s that don’t flair up the side effects of HRT, including holistic medications.

With issues like healthcare and the greediness of pharmaceutical companies at the forefront of public awareness, every kind of medical treatment seems to be coming under fire. In addition, more and more people are seeking out alternative methods to deal with nonlethal health problems, and from this study, it appears doctors agree that this avenue dramatically reduces health risks.

For information on this and other issues in women’s health, use Gynecologists.com and take an active hand in your own health.

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