Looking Back at Women’s Health in 2012
As 2012 sputters to an end and we enter 2013, I couldn’t resist taking a look back at some of the issues which were a part of women’s health.
“They” say that the best predictor of the future is to examine the past. Honestly, I’m not so sure I totally buy into that axiom. But, if looking back can provide more clarity going forward in women’s health, then perhaps it’s worth the effort.
Hormone Replacement Therapy Makes a Come-Back
In 2012, after a good ten years of ducking and running for cover post-Women’s Health Initiative study, the medical community reconsidered its position on hormone replacement therapy. Medical journals, physicians, and even NAMS (North American Menopause Society) took an “official” reverse position on the safety of synthetic hormone replacement therapy; even suggesting that perhaps the collective reaction of the medical community to the Women’s Health Initiative study was a bit rash.
As a lowly, women’s health blogger and graduate student still earning her academic stripes, I’m certainly in no position to “officially” challenge NAMS, medical journals, or physicians on their new, emergent positions. But, I am still not convinced that this trend back toward synthetic hormone replacement therapy as a standard protocol for women in perimenopause is a great idea - official or not.
But, that’s just me.
Bioidentical Hormones Became a “Little” More Mainstream
Also in 2012, and perhaps in reaction to NAMS, et al., bioidentical hormones became more main stream. Unfortunately, there are still plenty of physicians who refuse to consider that bioidentical hormones are a safe and effective alternative to synthetic hormones, but, hey, we’re making a little headway.
The Safety of Compounding Pharmacies was Called into Question
Compounding pharmacies, which, by the way, provide bioidentical hormones for hundreds of thousands of women every year, were at the center of a national health scandal story in 2012, thanks to an outbreak of fungal meningitis which took the lives of over twenty patients across the country.
The story has long since fallen off the radar, but the safety of compounding pharmacies and their lack of federal regulatory oversight by the FDA was big news for women’s health. Whether congress and lawmakers will follow through with their threats to bring compounding pharmacies under federal regulatory guidelines still remains to be seen.
My personal guess is “yes.” But, stay tuned.
There was a War on Women’s Health
Women’s health was a huge political football in 2012, much to my personal chagrin, as politicians on both sides of the aisle ginned up mass hysteria in order to gain votes by declaring there was a “war on women.”
As a women’s health advocate, and one very conservative, strong willed woman who refuses to take a backseat to no one, I must confess, I found this to be one of the most insulting and annoying issues of the year. Bar none.
Did no one else see how incredibly demeaning and degrading it is to women to suggest that the only thing we are capable of thinking about begins and ends in our uterus? I did, and I didn’t like it. Of course, idiotic statements about “legitimate rape” and calling a woman a slut because she has sex outside of marriage didn’t exactly help quell the fires either. Good grief.
Menopause and Fibromyalgia
On a personal note, menopause and fibromyalgia became part of my own health narrative in 2012. But, lest you think me totally narcissistic, I also learned that out of all fibromyalgia diagnoses, 85 to 90% of them are women, and out of those patients, a very large number of menopausal women.
Coincidence? I’m thinking not, and certainly intriguing enough for me to continue exploring the link during 2013.
Stay the Course in 2013
All in all 2012 was an okay year for women’s health, I guess, nothing too extraordinary or unexpected. Unfortunately, we are still facing many of the same issues we have been facing for decades now: physicians not really knowing what to do about perimenopause, politicizing our health, defining us by our hormones, and blah, blah, blah.
But, I remain an eternal optimist despite it all, and have every intention of hitting the ground running in 2013…well, okay, walking – but, really fast. Besides, advocating for women’s health is a righteous cause, and you know what they say, “slow and steady wins the race, toots.”
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.