Confusion Continues on the Benefits of Estrogen
I had my gynecologist “up the ante” yesterday, by increasing my Vivelle Dot dosage from .05 milligrams to .1 milligrams. Some of you may recall that I decided recently to try the Vivelle Dot patch, an FDA approved, bioidentical estradiol, in an effort to address my brain fog issues, and also hoped it might decrease some of the chronic pain I’ve lived with for several months.
Out of an abundance of caution, I originally started on the lowest dosage available due to the breast cancer and stroke history in my immediate family. Since I’ve been using it, I’ve detected a moderate improvement, and decided to bump up the dosage a bit to see if the improvement continues. The jury is still out since it has only been 24 hours, but I remain hopeful.
Women who read my blogs here, and who are also on my Facebook page, express a lot of concern over the use of estrogen for their perimenopause symptoms, and rightly so in my opinion. Unfortunately, there continues to be one conflicting study after another on the benefits versus the risks of estrogen therapy, and quite frankly, the medical community just cannot get their act together and agree on much of anything.
JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association), recently published a new study on the safety of Premarin (a synthetic estrogen from conjugated equine estrogens), which stated that it “might put women at a higher risk for blood clots.”
Of course, none of this is new. If you’ve been but only a casual observer of the hormone therapy debate, then you would know this potential risk (among others) was exactly why the Women’s Health Initiative study was halted back in the early 2000s. So, to be honest, I’m quite befuddled as to why this is supposed to be “new research.”
The study, funded by Pfizer (the manufacturer of Premarin), also stated that, “While the research showed the risk of also having a heart attack for Premarin users was higher than those taking estradiol, for example, the findings weren’t statistically significant.”
Unless you are one of those women who actually has a heart attack, then it’s very statistically significant.
In addition, Pfizer, who generated $1.07 billion dollars in revenue last year from the sale of Premarin, also “strongly believes in the use of conjugated estrogens as a treatment option for women who have moderate to severe menopausal symptoms.”
Of course you do.
Like I said, I’m still mystified as to why this study was published, because it’s not new. Not even remotely. My only educated guess would be that due to product liability issues, they are disclosing any and all potential risks and side-effects in the interest of protecting their $1.07 billion dollars in revenue last year from law suits.
But, that’s just me.
The bigger issue in my view is that it is clear the medical community is still trying to find a consensus on estrogen therapy for perimenopause symptoms. At least as it pertains to synthetic estrogen. My personal hope, however, is that as more research is done on bioidentical hormones, we will ditch synthetic hormones like Premarin and Prempro, and we will all live happily ever after. Until then, I’ll keep you all up dated on my experience with the Vivelle Dot.
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women's health and a women's freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.