Meg Farris / Medical Reporter
It is a medical dilemma millions of women face - whether or not to take hormone replacement.
Recently, two doctors from Indiana came to New Orleans to share the latest science and they say many doctors don't know that hormones need to start around the age of 40.
The husband and wife doctor team wants to clear up any doubts women have about replacing the hormones the ovaries stop making throughout menopause and the decades afterwards.
"I do believe that the evidence is overwhelming that post menopausal women live healthier and longer with hormones than compared to women who do not take hormone therapy after menopause. I think the evidence on that is clear," said Dr. David Miller, an Anesthesiologist and certified menopause specialist.
He and his wife Lovera Wolf Miller have written a book called 'Womenopause' to spell out the many health reasons why women should not live the entire second half of their lives deficient in crucial hormones that affect every cell in the body from the top of the head to the tip of the toes. First, they say to forget the 10-year-old science of the big WHI (Women's Health Initiative) study.
"A big, big important thing that came out, when they (the women in the WHI study) were on estrogen only, even though it was not the right estrogen, they still had a decrease in breast cancer by 33 percent. That didn't ever hit the news," explained Dr. Lovera Wolf Miller, an obstetrician and gynecologist who is a certified menopause specialist. "It's only when they added the progestin to it, which we don't use today, that there was an increase in diagnosis of breast cancer. But it didn't cause the breast cancer anyway and it was also not statistically significant."
The Millers say the hormones are better and safer now. Gone are the days of one size fits all hormone replacement therapy. Gone too are oral hormone pills that are broken up in the digestive system. Now women can get their own individualized cocktail of the identical estrogen, progesterone and testosterone that your body can no longer make on its own. They are delivered through patches, implanted pellets under the hip or buttocks skin, and gels and creams. The hormones all go directly into the blood steam just like the hormones did when your ovaries were making them.
"Those are all 17-beta estradiol which is the exact estrogen in the woman's body. So that's why we switch (from calling them bioidentcal) and call it body identical," said Dr. Wolf Miller.
They say the science shows an improvement in sexual desire and function. And less illness, bladder problems, and cancer in almost every organ system.
"If you're on estrogen, you decrease your chances of Alzheimer's by 65 percent, if you're on a short time, by 80 percent if you're on (hormones) ten years. That's huge, huge and the message isn't out there," added Dr. Wolf Miller.
On hormone replacement there is a 50 percent reduction in the number one killer of women, heart disease. And no amount of exercise or vitamins or supplements can build bones because without estrogen, the cells can't make new bone and you get osteoporosis.
"They have with time compressed their vertebrae and their spine, very painful, debilitating deformities that are completely eliminated with care and treatment for osteoporosis. More women die every year from the complications of fractures than they do from breast cancer," explained Dr. Miller.
So the latest science they say finds, women's bodies need the female and even male hormones uninterrupted womb to tomb. You get them naturally from your ovaries from birth to 40. Then beginning at 40, for the 10 years of perimenopause when you're hormones are fluctuating, by taking the birth control pill or HRT. And then in the 50's and throughout life, HRT to replace what the body can no longer make.
"My 84-year-old mother is on her hormones and is happy as can be," Dr. Wolf Miller smiles.
Doctors say women should think of hormone replacement like a diabetic replaces the hormone insulin, and a person with low thyroid replaces the thyroid hormone.
There are some doctors in other specialties who want more science on HRT before they recommend it.
Ochsner OB-GYN's perform pellet and patch HRT. For more call 504-842-4155.