In recent years, the US has seemed relatively balanced with regards to the narrative on perimenopause and menopause, especially when compared to the medically-driven so-called “menopause revolution” playing out in the UK.
However, the way menopause is viewed in America is about to change. The British “menopause revolution” has just crossed the pond.
British women were traditionally not big consumers of HRT. Very clear British advertising laws also prohibit the promotion of prescription-only medicines.
In the UK, it was once common for the mainstream media to discuss menopause as a natural part of a woman’s life-cycle. You might have even heard about natural solutions to ease symptoms. But not anymore.
British women were the first targets of a large business plan. Once you view what has been happening in the menopause space in the UK and compare it to the rest of the world, it’s easy to see that British women have been experimented on and yes, their behavior has changed.
These days, the pharmaceutical industry’s influence often goes unchecked – pharma gets what it wants. A wide-reaching campaign has convinced British women that menopause is first and foremost a hormone deficiency that requires medical treatment. Prescription-only hormone therapies are being promoted in violation of the law by a growing number of menopause charities and menopause celebs, as well as the mainstream media.
The media has covered endless stories of women suffering terrible symptoms during perimenopause and menopause. Midlife change appears to offer nothing else, and the depressing narrative has increased fear. In addition, the wide-spread promotion of the misogynistic notion that menopause is the cause of disease – from heart disease to dementia and severe depression – has multiplied the fear.
Fear sells. Beyond that, fear causes us to give away our power to someone who promises the solution to what we fear. Keeping menopausal women disempowered is a re-occurring theme in history. Those who recognize the “I don’t give a f*ck” trait of menopausal and post-menopausal women might understand why.
With British women now demanding more HRT than the industry can supposedly supply in the short term (at least for some popular products), it seems that it’s the perfect time to export the experiment carried out on British women, and give it some American glam.
Don’t worry about the issue of short supply of some HRT products. This is currently only an issue in the UK. Conveniently, the shortages keep HRT in the news. At the same time, due to the shortage of, for example, a popular bioidentical progesterone product, women are being migrated over to other hormone products waiting in the wings. These other products may not be bioidentical (the claimed safer type of HRT that helped convince many women to give it a try), but now that women are being deprived of their progesterone (that protects their uterus from cancer once they are taking estrogen), do they have the option to care that they have to switch to a synthetic form of hormone therapy?
“Own your menopause” is the marketing message of a UK-based menopause charity encouraging women to take more HRT. It’s a mystery how you can “own your menopause” while tying your well-being to the unstable pharma supply chains. The UK menopause revolution with its pseudo feminist messaging is absurd, but it has worked.
In walks O P R A H!
Considering that Oprah has in the past discussed menopause as more of a transformative experience, will she lead the same type of medical menopause revolution as we’ve seen in the UK?
On oprahdaily.com you can watch Menopause Talk, a show that was posted on the website in April 2023. On the Oprah Daily YouTube channel, you can watch extra clips from the show that didn’t make the final cut.
Oprah declares at the start of Menopause Talk that she is making a documentary about menopause. I’ve no doubt that the material that Oprah puts out on midlife change will raise awareness about the challenges that women often face during this sensitive time. That’s a good thing. I’ve been raising awareness about perimenopause and menopause since 2015.
However, will this new media-push brand menopause as a pathology – something to fear and medicate?
The blurb under the Menopause Talk video, encourages viewers to visit Oprah.com’s Menopause Guide, where they address (I quote): “managing symptoms (to hormone or not to hormone? spoiler alert: hormone).”
A few times during the Menopause Talk show, Oprah is very specific with her message to women: “You need hormones!”
I wonder, is that within the possibility of an awakened consciousness, or beyond it? Because if women need hormones, does that mean menopause is a divine mistake? Sorry, I digress.
A new era has landed in the US that just happens to remind us of an old one. As in the UK, we’re going back to the 1960s.
In the 1960’s, women were encouraged to take HRT for life, based on no large randomized controlled trials. Read the package inserts of menopause hormone therapy today, and you will see that long-term use is not recommended due to increased risks of harm.
An Ob/Gyn in a powder-pink trouser suit on the Oprah show, who coincidentally sells bioidentical hormone therapy on her website, said she doesn’t like the term “post-menopausal” to describe women who have passed through menopause, “because you are menopausal forever.”
I wonder why she says that. I’ve spoken to post-menopausal women who definitely feel they have entered their second spring since they moved beyond the sensitive time of hormonal change. Yet here’s a doctor who wants you to believe that you have a condition, you know, like a disease, forever.
In the extra clips from Menopause Talk, the same doctor shared confusing messages that appear to contradict the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) position statement on hormone therapy.
NAMS radically changed their position statement in 2017 following the publication in JAMA of the findings of an 18-year clinical trial, which investigated the safety of hormone therapies. Following the trial, the leading researchers concluded in their published work that they “would not support use of hormone therapy for reducing chronic disease or mortality.” The NAMS position statements on hormone therapy from 2017 and 2022 promote the use of hormone therapy only for three categories of menopausal symptoms, and not for disease prevention, in line with these findings.
Prior to 2017, you could hear menopause doctors in the US make claims that if menopause was left “untreated” a woman would increase her risk of heart disease, cancer and dementia. In 2017, most of these doctors stopped sharing these fabricated claims. Now it seems the door is wide open for a return of such messaging, but not because the science has changed.
If you are familiar with the history of HRT, it’s easy to see a pattern: pharma is ready for a new spin of old themes. Menopause is big business.
“Your risk of dying for any reason if you were on estrogen alone was less than if you did not take estrogen,” said the Ob/Gyn on the show.
Wow. It sounds like everyone should be on hormone therapy, right?
Wrong! A famous UK menopause doctor recently made the same claim – what a coincidence! Both doctors relied on a subset of data from the Women’s Health Initiative published in 2002. The context that both doctors conveniently left out is that the data refers to women who had a hysterectomy and received estrogen therapy, as compared to women who had a hysterectomy and received a placebo. To translate the data into simple terms: women who have their uterus and often their ovaries removed, and then experience a rapid drop in hormones post-surgery with high chances of severe symptoms, do better with hormones to help the body recover from the shock induced by surgical menopause, than women who don’t.
This data is irrelevant to women journeying through natural menopause. Since 1975, medicine has known that giving estrogen-only therapy to a woman in natural menopause increases her risk of endometrial cancer (a cancer of the lining of the uterus). So why didn’t both doctors make it perfectly clear that the data they referred to was only relevant to women who had undergone a hysterectomy?
And just a word on hysterectomies in the US: by the age of 60, more than one-third of all women will have had a hysterectomy. That sounds like women’s bodies are under attack. The National Women’s Health Network believes that “unnecessary hysterectomies have put women at risk needlessly and that health care providers should recognize the value of a woman’s reproductive organs beyond their reproductive capacity and search for hysterectomy alternatives before resorting to life-changing operations.”
Other fear-filled claims made in the Oprah show that US women can expect to hear on repeat in the near future, focused on menopause and women’s brains.
The same Ob/Gyn declared that in perimenopause “your brain is doing all kinds of things that are betraying you.”
How does that work exactly? How do brains decide to betray us? Or is it more a case of if we enter the sensitive time of midlife change with a heavy mental load (such as we often do in modern life), our brain might start sending signals to encourage us to slow down and reduce the load? What makes more sense to you?
Luckily, the doctor also shared what many women actually experience: that brain fog at midlife is usually temporary. In other words, once your hormones stabilize post menopause, this symptom disappears. Which is interesting, since earlier she stated that menopause “never ends.”
Another guest who founded the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement claimed that “estrogen does help the brain fight off disease.”
As we hear of the “betraying” brain and the brain deprived of estrogen leading to disease, is there any solid evidence to justify such fear-speak?
No! Once again, there are only hypotheses and studies that do not hold up to scientific scrutiny, and therefore offer no benefit to women in general.
The logic behind such claims is that since more women than men experience dementia and Alzheimer’s post midlife, and since women experience menopause at midlife, therefore, there must be a connection! As if our hormones represent the only difference in women’s and men’s lives.
Women who are in their 80s today, have had a greater chance of being on certain medications, such as SSRIs, high doses of the contraceptive pill and HRT. They’ve probably had more exposure to dodgy ingredients in skin care, toxic cleaning products and the fumes from toxic cookware. They have also been impacted by the collapse of the extended family and the disappearance of traditional roles of elders in different ways from men.
But let’s sweep all of that aside! After all, who makes money from investigating the toxins women may have been exposed to and the harms of modern lifestyles? Let’s focus on women’s hormones!
In acknowledging the high rates of women being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia, the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement currently claims on the Research section of their website that there is insufficient “emphasis placed on determining the relationship between a women’s biological and genetic make-up.”
It continues: “The myriad of gender specific factors like hormone levels, genetic composition, age-related variables, and lifestyle practices, provide a broad basis for the research that is essential.”
Do you see how lifestyle has been relegated to last place and we are back to blaming a woman’s biology for disease?
To be fair, in the past, the same organization has directed funds to research lifestyle issues such as nutrition, stress and social environments. Yet in 2023, their new focus is clear, and it connects with a larger trend.
In 2022, many UK women were suddenly convinced they needed HRT to protect themselves against dementia and Alzheimer’s after watching a single Channel 4 menopause documentary. The documentary, Sex, Mind and the Menopause made the claim that long term use of HRT could reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases by up to 80%.
The documentary made this claim by extracting data from research published in 2021 in the journal Alzheimer’s Association. One author of the research received grants from the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement.
The research was an observational study looking at the impact of menopausal hormone therapy on dementia, Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. Considering that women will tend to take hormone therapy at midlife and if dementia and Alzheimer’s occur, they would tend to be present decades later, it is rather peculiar that the study only had an average follow-up time of 5.1 years. Furthermore, the study claims women will experience the most significant benefits in brain health if they take hormone therapy beyond the age of 65.
Of women who choose to take HRT, most will have come off it well before they reach 65, due to safety concerns. The Women’s Health Initiative (a large randomized controlled trial which was abruptly halted in 2002) found that long term use of estrogen and progestin combined hormone therapy in post-menopausal women increases the risk of heart disease, breast cancer, stroke, blood clots, and urinary incontinence.
Following the WHI findings, HRT manufacturers and their advocates criticized the study for including women well beyond the menopause age. Now those who are holding up the Alzheimer’s Association study as “the latest brain science” want us to believe that HRT taken 14 years after the average age of menopause offers health benefits.
Since 2021 and the publication of this supposedly “groundbreaking” study, neither the North American Menopause Society nor the British Menopause Society (BMS) have changed their positions on HRT with regards to brain health. In fact, following the hysteria generated by the claims in the Channel 4 documentary, BMS issued a statement which said:
“Women should be reassured that HRT is UNLIKELY to increase the risk of dementia or to have a detrimental effect on cognitive function in women initiating HRT before the age of 65. However, HRT SHOULD NOT BE INITIATED FOR THE PURPOSE OF REDUCING THE RISK OF DEMENTIA in postmenopausal women and at this time, there is not enough evidence to support prescribing HRT for prevention of dementia.”
(I changed certain words to CAPS for emphasis.)
It is also interesting to note that another large study on brain health, conducted in the UK and published in April 2022, which had a longer average follow up time, found NO connection between taking HRT and reducing a woman’s risk of dementia.
So where is America going?
Based on the UK experiment, which is a success in terms of pharma profits and profits for menopause doctors in the private sector, women in the US can expect to be bombarded by new (old) menopause messaging.
Fear of women’s bodies, our natural life-cycles and diseases currently associated with aging will no doubt increase. It’s also likely that menopause in the workplace will become a major focus. This sounds like a good thing. However, when you notice how pharma has woven itself into organizations that promote menopause awareness in the workplace, one can expect that the workplace will become another platform from which to promote fear and then market certain products as solutions.
The mainstream media in the US is often “brought to you by [insert name of a pharma manufacturer],” which ensures that the news and other TV programs serve the interests of the sponsor. In America, why would the workplace be any different?
Just this month, the North American Menopause Society issued a new policy statement on nonhormone therapy. It just so happens to coincide with the FDA approval of a new nonhormonal menopause drug for the treatment of hot flashes and night sweats – a drug that tweaks reactions in your brain (but just watch out for your liver). The drug has been in trials that have lasted one year; women are expected to take it for many.
This drug is now recommended in the latest NAMS position statement on nonhormonal therapies.
But look at what’s not recommended in the same statement:
And if this statement doesn’t reveal a lot regarding what you need to know about medicine these days, I don’t know what does.
The justification for not recommending the listed lifestyle practices and alternative therapies is that there are no large randomized controlled studies that suggest that “relaxation,” for example, relieves menopause symptoms.
I have been helping women reduce the severity of their perimenopause and menopause symptoms for the last eight years, after I spontaneously healed my symptoms through insight alone. I can assure you that when a woman reduces stress, stays away from triggers such as alcohol, and starts moving (if she lives a sedentary lifestyle) her symptoms improve.
In health and well-being, you are allowed to use common sense, and you are allowed to promote ideas that are free and don’t drive profits for large corporations.
The narrative on menopause could do with common sense.
I would like to ask Oprah and indeed any woman who believes that her body was/is incapable of journeying through menopause smoothly, why that would be true?
If a woman struggled through menopause, what might have been going on in her life at that time, which may have caused her body to communicate with her through symptoms?
What was her body trying to tell her at the sensitive time of midlife change?
The simple truth about menopause is that the body knows. We've just forgotten that there is innate health and magnificence inside of us.
Often, we choose to ignore that if we have innocently fallen off a healthy path, the body will do all that it can to wake us up, so that we can return to well-being.
We don’t “need" hormones to feel better and to live a long, healthy life. We need understanding and a shift in consciousness.