Last week I enjoyed speaking about menopause at PxP2019 —on demystifying hormone therapy (HT)—to pharmacists from across Canada. Pharmacy Experience Pharmacie (PxP2019) is joint Canadian Pharmacists Association and Ontario Pharmacists Association conference.
I also wrote a blog for the Ontario Pharmacists Association last year in which I explained the misconceptions about HT:
About 80 per cent of women report vasomotor symptoms (VMS) such as hot flashes and night sweats, and other symptoms. Menopause not only impacts women, but also their partners, children, family, friends and co-workers. Hormone therapy (HT) is the most effective treatment for menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness, so why are there so few women on HT?
The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Trial aimed at supporting observational data that demonstrated that estrogen alone or estrogen plus a progestin may have a preventative effect on heart disease, hip fracture and colon cancer among other conditions. The trial of the estrogen plus progestin arm was stopped early due to an increase risk of heart disease, stroke, blood clots, and breast cancer. The way the results were announced in July 2002, and the media, helped to propagate the fear that HT increased the risk of breast cancer and heart attacks without explanation of the magnitude of the risks. This was a big disservice for menopausal women. Women and healthcare providers weren’t advised properly on how to interpret the results of the trial and abandoned HT altogether.
One of my customers literally dumped her estrogen tablets in the toilet and came to see me in the pharmacy three days later with severe menopause symptoms. If I knew then what I know now, and if my scope of practice at the time had permitted, I would have renewed her prescription!
With all the emphasis on the risks of HT, the benefits of HT for the relief of VMS and the treatment of vaginal atrophy were largely ignored. The positive effects of HT on the prevention of certain diseases like osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures, diabetes, and, in women on the estrogen plus progestin arm, colon cancer, were insufficiently acknowledged.
Not surprisingly, women’s decisions regarding HT are surrounded by anxiety and confusion and new medical graduates lack appropriate training in the management of menopausal symptoms and HT. Many menopausal women are untreated, some are undertreated, and too many suffer needlessly.
My aim in speaking about menopause at PxP2019 was to educate pharmacists so they can help their female patients.
You can read more on this important topic in the blog that I wrote for the Ontario Pharmacists Association, here.
And remember, there’s help, I can help you!
I am a registered pharmacist with over 20 years of professional experience in community pharmacy and drug information in Toronto, and a Certified Menopause Practitioner (NCMP) through the North American Menopause Society (NAMS). I founded MenopausED to educate and support women in midlife, especially during the menopause transition, to raise awareness about menopause, and to break the menopause taboo.
If you have questions about menopause definitions, or anything else, do not hesitate to ask, email me, or book a free 15-minute call with me.
You can learn more about the WHIM (Women’s Health In Midlife) Network here.