Early menopause means you just entered menopause. It refers to the first five years after you stopped having your period and the conventional, old-fashioned medicine world may advise you to take hormones during this period of time.
Late menopause is five to 10 years out and is the menopausal stage of those poor women in the 2002 Women’s Health Initiative, the failed study on hormones derived from pregnant horses’ urine.
That research opened the door for the 12-year disaster, when women were told hormones will cause cancer, strokes, and heart attacks.
The truth is that hormones don’t cause those problems. Aging, a poor diet, and lack of exercise do. Taking the wrong hormones may slightly increase your chances of having health problems, but not as much as aging will.
So does it really matter if you are beyond menopause by one year or 10 when you start taking hormones?
Yes, today even the naysayers of the Women’s Health Initiative are coming around. It’s better to go on hormones earlier than not.
So we all agree there. Take hormones before you go into menopause, before you stop having your period, before you start feeling awful. The debate now is about how long to take the hormones and what type of hormones to take.
From where I sit, at the forefront of hormone therapies, I say it’s never too late to start taking them and never time to stop.
Just make sure your doctor knows what he or she is doing, be smart about integrating your entire life into the balancing of your hormones, and understand this is a new chapter in your life. Use the accumulated wisdom from the previous chapters and apply it to this one. You’ll do well.
Posts by Erika Schwartz, M.D
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