Symptoms associated with menopause have been treated with estrogen and progesterone for many years. When I went into private practice in 1986, we had been taught that hormones given to postmenopausal women were protective. We prescribed them widely, like they were vitamins. If menses stopped, the next thing to do was to take hormone replacement therapy. We asked patients to let us know when their menses stopped so that we could administer hormone therapy promptly.
Today we have concerns about hormone therapy. The Women’s Health Initiative was a large study that collected data on the incidence of heart disease, stroke, cancer and bone fracture in women taking hormones as compared with women who did not take hormones in menopause. In 2002, a large portion of the study was discontinued because it appeared that women taking estrogen and progesterone were at increased risk for heart disease, stroke and breast cancer.
In 2002 many women went off of hormone therapy and many physicians stopped prescribing it. In the months that followed, many women found that they had symptoms of menopause that interfered with their lives. The consumer media began reporting on natural and bio-identical hormones. Claims surfaced of superior safety.