HRT is the COVID of Menopause
People who know me often comment about how much I see parallels among things that most people never associate with one another. They say I’m odd because most people don’t think the way I do. Of course, since I’ve had only my one brain in my head all my life and apparently made such connections between dissimilar things all along, I don’t understand what’s so odd about the way I think. But I have a feeling that this observation is in keeping with one of those parallels.
So the parallel is this: HRT is the COVID of menopause!
I’ll walk you through my thought process.
Starting with history:
While pandemics have been part of the human condition for a lot longer than menopause has, they both have a long history for humans. It has never been a question of whether we’ll have another pandemic. Instead, it’s merely a question of when we’ll have another pandemic. So it shouldn’t have surprised anyone when COVID hit.
Likewise, now that we’re living long enough to outlive our ovaries and the hormones they produce, menopause is inevitable. If only women learned about menopause, they’d discover that it’s gonna happen … unless they die first.
So, from a historical standpoint, both COVID and menopause are no surprise, or at least they shouldn’t be.
What about preparedness?
Despite the inevitability of a pandemic, most people were caught completely off-guard. We’ve had deadly pandemics that have killed millions upon millions of people, and we’ve had mild pandemics that haven’t created much havoc. You would think that we’d have adopted a way of life that either prevents pandemics or prepares us in advance for dealing with them efficiently. But, nooooo. We live carelessly, ignoring the fact that, in any contest between man and microbes, the microbes will win.
And, even though menopause is puberty in reverse, bringing with it over 20 obvious symptoms of estrogen deficiency, most women are completely clueless even when menopause hits them over the head like a ton of bricks.
How can we be so unprepared for events that are so predictable and inevitable? And why is it we are so surprised when they arrive?
Then, there’s the failure to understand or acknowledge the severity of the situation.
With the COVID pandemic, many people just didn’t believe it was real. They thought it was a hoax, and they propagated that incorrect opinion to others. Before long, there were huge bands of people declaring that there was no pandemic at all.
With menopause, many women believe that menopause will not “happen” to them. They have the audacity to think that they can prevent it just by eating whatever they consider to be the “right diet” or doing whatever they consider to be the “right exercise.”
Why do people have such a hard time accepting things they don’t like?
One reason is that they fail to make important distinctions between things over which they have control and things over which they don’t.
A virus is so tiny that you can’t see it, and you don’t know when you are exposed to it. And it’s everywhere! So, you can’t avoid it by “being careful,” or adjusting your diet or lifestyle.
Likewise, no matter how much you do to control your risk of heart attack, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s, nothing will erase the fact that estrogen loss at menopause increases your risk for all three.
Another reason people don’t accept what they don’t like is ignorance.
How much of an education do you have on viruses (other than what your get from the media, which is not a valid source of education)? Well, if you have no education, why do you think you deserve to offer an opinion? (My military father used to say, “You don’t deserve an opinion until you have an education!” Now that I’m in my sixties, I see just how correct he was.)
And how much of an education on menopause did you have before becoming a student here at “Menopause University”? Most women know absolutely nothing about menopause. They’re shocked when they start learning the facts … which are completely the opposite of everything they thought they knew.
So, one distortion leads to another, and, before you know it, people have created all sorts of theories and stories about what they consider to be the “real story.” These are otherwise known as conspiracy theories.
Conspiracy theories about the pandemic ranged from governments collaborating to overpower society to the media creating drama.
Theories about menopause ranged from you’re weak if you can’t just grin and bear it to the medical profession making it a disease when it’s “natural.”
Once we have all sorts of disjointed theories, everything gets more and more exaggerated and extrapolated.
People started protesting against the Coronavirus … as if the virus cares about protests! Women have long protested against any effort to talk about menopause and erase the secrecy.
Then we add all sorts of illogic to the mix.
The protests against confinement to avoid spreading the Coronavirus became protests against infringement of freedom. No longer was it about a virus that causes a pandemic. Somehow, it was about people’s freedom.
And the fact that menopause is a hormone deficiency just like any other hormone deficiency has gotten lost in all the rhetoric about society’s focus on youth and sexiness. Women themselves are in complete denial about menopause, and their denial only makes things worse for them. If they welcomed more openness about menopause, it would be to their benefit. But, instead, they suffer in silence and feel embarrassed if anyone so much as mentions the word, “menopause.”
After that comes displacement of actual facts with distorted faux.
Fact: Humans are the legs for any pathogen. If we move, they move … from person to person, that is. If we pass them from person to person, they survive and thrive. But if we stay still, and they can’t pass from person to person, they die off and we thrive
Faux: If you can’t see the virus, it doesn’t exist. Or, humans are big and viruses are small; so we’ll win if there’s a battle.
Fact: The lifespan of a virus is only a few days, and it can change its entire genome to adapt to anything we do to kill it in just a month or two. Humans live for decades, and require over 100 generations to change our DNA.
Faux: If we just go on about our business, the virus will disappear. We don’t have to inconvenience ourselves to overcome it.
Fact: Estrogen was your fountain of youth. When you lose it, you start aging on the inside and the outside. And with that aging comes increased risks for diseases that are due to estrogen deficiency (heart attack, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s). It’s a hormone deficiency that you weren’t supposed to experience simply because you weren’t supposed to live as long as we live these days. And, like any hormone deficiency, if you don’t replace the deficient hormone, you will have diseases that result from the deficiency.
Faux: Since all women eventually lose their estrogen and experience menopause, it’s “natural.” If you just “get through it,” everything will go back to normal. You can possibly even avoid menopause with proper diet & lifestyle.
It’s as if we just can’t handle the truth, so we morph it into something we find more appealing.
And then what do we do? We try to find a middle-ground between fact and faux.
We put up little plexiglass screens to prevent the virus from spreading, impose curfews, and make some people wear masks, but not others. Do you really think the virus can’t go around the screen, cares what time day it is, or only targets some people and not others?
And for menopause, we try all sorts of diets, exercise, vitamins, minerals, supplements, and herbs to “balance” non-existent hormones. Do we not realize that a hormone is a hormone … and that no kind of diet, exercise, supplement, or herb can take the place of a missing hormone? Why do we try fixing the problem with everything except replacing the very thing that’s missing? Hormone replacement is precisely what we do for every other hormone deficiency known to man (or woman).
Professionals even drum up mantras to walk the fine line between knowing that there is benefit in taking hormone replacement for menopause and acknowledging women’s fears of it: They say, “Take the lowest dosage for the shortest time.” Isn’t that like telling a smoker she can smoke one pack of cigarettes daily for only 10 years, but no more … and she’ll be fine?
The next, and most striking parallel between COVID and menopause is fear of the antidote.
The antidote against a virus is a vaccine. It consists of a tiny dose of the dead virus that enables your body to mount a response to it without your having to get sick. But people fear that the vaccine is more dangerous than the actual disease, and refuse to get it vaccinated.
Hormone replacement therapy for estrogen deficiency is merely a matter of replacing your lost estrogen with another source of the same hormone your own body used to produce. And, just like insulin or thyroid hormone replacement, it solves the problem of estrogen deficiency in one fell swoop – eradicating all the miserable symptoms, all the deadly diseases associated with estrogen deficiency, and restoring your quality of life.
But women claim that hormone replacement is dangerous; that it causes cancer and will kill them. Does that mean your own body produced a deadly poisonous hormone for almost 40 years? If so, why do you feel and look so young and healthy when you have it, but feel and look so old and unhealthy once you lose it? How did it go from being divine to being dangerous? How can estrogen replacement be more dangerous than the deadly diseases caused by estrogen deficiency? If hormone replacement is so dangerous, why isn’t anybody afraid of insulin replacement or thyroid hormone replacement? Nobody seems to be afraid of them.
All this fear of the antidote interferes with the ability to see the big picture.
Yes, the COVID pandemic is indeed a pandemic. But how big a toll does it take on human lives? It kills only 2% of the people who get it. That’s the same as the annual flu. This is very unlike some of the pandemics we’ve had in the past. Yet, we’ve never reacted to much deadlier pandemics with such massive shut-downs of society. This is the first time we’ve shut down whole economies and confined whole countries.
Failing to see the big picture of menopause is similar. Despite the fact that you’ll outlive your ovaries, we have ways of replacing the hormone deficiency that it will create. This is just like any other hormone deficiency that we treat with hormone replacement. But, we don’t demonize other hormone replacements; only HRT for menopause. What’s so difficult about acknowledging that hormone replacement for menopause makes as much sense as it does for any other hormone deficiency?
By failing to see the big picture, we create trade-offs.
With COVID, we’ve traded a 2% death rate for a global economic crisis that will endure for years — if not decades: psychological breakdowns, business failures, and massive economic setbacks. Is the trade-off worth it?
With menopause, we’ve traded fear of an inevitable hormone deficiency and its hormone replacement for a miserable quality of life and a high risk for three deadly diseases. Does that sound like a good swap?
With both COVID and menopause, our reaction has constituted either massive overkill or merely a band-aid.
The reaction to COVID was overkill. The trade-offs reveal the fact that the over-reaction did more damage than good.
With menopause, neglect of the topic, ignorance of its significance, and rejection of the antidote constitute merely putting a band-aid on a situation that could be solved. Women are doomed to a lower quality of life.
You would think that people would wake-up to these things that make both COVID and menopause so wonky. But they don’t. And the reason they don’t is because they throw out the science and replace it with individual opinions or collective scare tactics.
When the science of virology doesn’t fit someone’s opinion or desires, they throw out the science and replace it with their own opinion. They discount the credibility of the experts in order to justify their own behavior. Viral biology be damned! How dare anyone tell me I can’t do as I please because of a microscopic bug!
And, with menopause, basic biology and gynecology become the enemy if they provide a solution that is not in keeping with the hype of the times. Marketing and propaganda trump logic. So instead of using reliable pharmacologic hormone replacement, women fall for scams that promote pellets, compounded hormones, and supplements that have no menopausal benefit whatsoever. These other alternatives are labeled as “natural,” whereas the only reliable solution gets the label of “harmful.”
All of these reactions are due to fear. Fear is the most powerful emotion on Earth. And, once fear is part of the equation, the response to it is anything but logical or rational.
We’ve had pandemics in the past, but never reacted (or over-reacted) the way we have to this one. And COVID doesn’t even come close to being the most deadly one. So the pandemic itself was not as big a problem as our reaction to it.
The most significant generator of fear with regard to menopause was the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study. There have been hundreds of studies on HRT, and they have always found varying results. But none of them has been deemed the “bible of studies” and debunked all the others. Nor has the reaction to any of them ever caused the fear, confusion, and damage to lives that the WHI has caused. Like the reaction to COVID, more lives were destroyed due to the irrational reaction to the WHI than to the actual issue. There just isn’t any logical reason for one study to have ruined so many lives.
With all these illogical reactions, people fail to separate an antidote that is personal from one that is societal.
The COVID vaccine is not a personal matter. It’s a societal one. There is no way we’ll surpass the COVID — or any other — pandemic if the vaccine against it is a matter of personal choice. There’s no way that an unvaccinated person doesn’t pose a risk to others. Pandemics aren’t about your individual rights; they’re about society’s welfare.
HRT for menopause is just the opposite. It’s a personal matter. A woman’s use of HRT does not affect the rest of society. If she incurs risk from HRT, it does not affect anyone but her.
So the personal versus societal differences between the COVID vaccine and HRT create disagreement and division among people.
With COVID, the maskers are against the anti-maskers. The vaccers are against the anti-vaccers. It’s gotten so bad that vaccers exclude anti-vaccers from social events, and anti-vaccers destroy vaccination hubs.
With menopause, pro-HRT women are ostracized or terrorized by women who tell them that HRT is dangerous. Anti-HRT women are marginalized by their symptoms. There’s even division between patients and their doctors. Some doctors are opposed to HRT, while others think all women should use HRT. Doctors who are against it won’t prescribe it for women who want it; and doctors who are for it push it on women who don’t want it. There are even scams by doctors calling themselves “hormone specialists,” but know nothing about menopause. It’s a great big mess!
The bottom line is that people want things both ways with regard to both COVID and menopause.
For COVID, people want to be able to roam, travel, and attend public events. They want our former way of life back … but don’t want to get the vaccine so that we can have it back.
For menopause, women want to feel the way they felt before they lost their estrogen, and continue to age gradually instead of suddenly. They want their quality of life back … but don’t want to take HRT in order to get it back
Unfortunately, we can’t have it both ways. We have to choose.
As the whole COVID drama has played out over months and years, I’ve sat back in awe of the parallels between the reaction to it and the reaction to menopause. I think humans just refuse to accept anything they don’t like. And the result is a litany of chaos and distortion. In every single way possible, HRT is the COVID of menopause!