What is natural?

Men who are squeamish about women’s biological issues, stop reading now.

The other day I asked my doctor whether I should continue HRT (hormone replacement therapy). I started the “winding down” process at 37 and decided that I didn’t want to go without my hormones at so young an age, so I began taking bio-identical HRT (not to be confused with Prempro and all those terrible drug company brand names that recently have been studied and berated).

So I asked my doctor, can I begin to wean myself off HRT since it’s a natural process of getting older, isn’t that the best thing I can do from a natural standpoint?

She smiled patiently as she responded to my question.

“Many of my patients ask me that. My response is that only in the last century or so have people lived to be as old as they are now. In the past, women would go through menopause and not live very long afterwards, as that was what the average lifespan presented them with. Now, we are living many extra years. We are in uncharted waters now, because we can’t be certain if the quality of this extra lifespan is affected by the absence of hormones. ”

So basically, we have once again changed the meaning of “natural”. We have “artificially” increased our lifespans with improved diets and living conditions, so now we may have created an “unnatural” need for hormones that we didn’t need before. I must take into account the “natural” decline that results from hormone depletion. Then again, some women do just fine and live to ripe old ages without any HRT. Obviously these people have excellent genetic material. I already know that I have some genetic predispositions that may get worse as I age.What’s a woman to do??

A clever friend of mine boiled the debate down to a succinct concept – is longevity the goal of life, or is quality of life more important? Of course, we would all love to have both. Is this possible? I guess I am one of the first guinea pigs in this grand experiment of longer lifespans.

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2 Comments

Filed under Life

2 responses to “What is natural?

  1. Basically she is right – we are the guinea-pigs.

    However a case history of my mom – she has just turned 90. She had a hysterectomy when she was 48/50 (my memory is not so good). No HRT for her . She was very active until her late 70’s – found the loss of my father hard to take. The last 13 years have seen gradual decline – no major illness. She is getting tired now.

    If you already have the predispositions – I would err on the side of caution – continue to take the HRT and keep as active and as healthy as you can.

  2. Nicola has some good advice, I think. I was thinking about it from the male point of view the other day. Evolution decided that I was supposed to get trampled by a mammoth about 5 years ago, so I’m on evolutionary borrowed time, too. I try to think of my achy knee as a sign of defiance against history ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Hormone therapy can have significant effects on your mind and body, but you haven’t lost either taking the treatment. If you find yourself scratching the couch like a cat (darn Twitch!) then you should start thinking about changing treatments ๐Ÿ˜‰

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