By: Jenny Grainer
The front page headline of The Daily Mail on Monday, April 9, of U-TURN ON THE RISKS OF HRT, caught my immediate attention and demanded I pay my two euros to be able to read the story.
The opening paragraph said, “Millions of women may have been scared into abandoning HRT unnecessarily.” Apparently, “British experts said the revised analysis of the Women’s Health Initiative Study virtually reversed the 2002 warning that led millions of women to stop taking HRT or not start it.”
According to the new report, it has been found that the original American study was dramatically flawed and claims millions of women who did not take HRT are the ones who are now more at risk from heart disease, strokes and osteoporosis. Those of us who ignored the dark and ominous warnings are apparently the ones who can now look forward to a healthier life in our advancing years.
We, the female sex, are all so very different that it’s hard to make stringent rules about what may be good for all of us. My own mother sailed through the menopause without so much as a hot flush. Many other women get all the unpleasant symptoms, but to a mild degree, and often these lucky souls can go to their local health food store and take a variety of natural ingredients that will either remove or greatly ease their discomfort. Then there are the rest of us.
At the time a single mother – I went into an early menopause without realising what was happening to me. As I lay there in bed, bathed in a cold sweat, sleepless and depressed, wondering how I was going to get through another day, I would think about how many times the next day I would have to leave the room and rush to the bathroom to splash water on my burning red face? How many pills I would pop to try to ease the pounding headaches and would I get through the day without bursting into tears over nothing – screaming at the children or being unable to cope with my job?
If you’ve never been there, I hope you didn’t criticise those of us who took HRT and swore that it saved our lives and stopped us from being demented head cases prepared to jump off a bridge. The dark clouds that billowed around my head at the time had menacing voices that kept telling me there was no way out – no door to find. I didn’t have an easy life but I had always been able to face my problems and find solutions, however suddenly I found that I couldn’t. Everything was impossible and the only way out was the unthinkable, or was it?
One day, a close friend, tired of seeing me in this suicidal frame of mind, marched me to a trusted doctor. I walked into his consulting room and burst into tears – he just took one look at me and said “I know what’s wrong with you.”
He went on to explain a lot about the mysterious changes in my body that were affecting me at such an early age. He told me that they were all down to changes in my hormone levels and there was something I could take that would make it all go away. It took a few days but he was right and slowly life returned to its precarious norm, which once again, I could cope with.
Over the years many doctors tried to wean me off this now considered dangerous drug and initially I did as I was told. All the symptoms came back with a vengeance so I went back to the doctor who had prescribed it in the first place. He studied me sagely and said “Jenny if you feel well taking it then don’t stop. Just be sensible and get regular mammograms, blood and urine tests. We know for sure that HRT helps prevent women from getting brittle bones and you know for yourself how it has helped you psychologically and emotionally. Sometimes you just have to weigh up the pros and cons and judge for yourself what health risks you are prepared to take.”
And that’s what I did. I regularly took tests, felt great and decided that however many years were left to me would be ones that I would enjoy, rather than worry about the things that might come upon me and then again might not – which thankfully haven’t, yet.
This report has absolutely delighted me as it’s lifted all feelings of guilt that I may have had. Admittedly I take a milder pill now but one that still keeps all the unpleasant symptoms away. Sadly, since the report was published, a few of my friends have said how sorry they are that they never took it, as they may well get all the diseases they were warned against. I’ve told them not to worry – there is bound to be another report out soon – to refute this one.
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