Menopause Journal: Is there life without hormones?

If It's Broken Don't Fix It?

So, if I'm being warned against hormone replacement therapy, what will become of me? What happens to women who don't take estrogen?

A menopause stereotype came via email the other day, "Post-Menopausal Barbie ... wets her pants when she sneezes, forgets where she puts things and cries a lot—comes with Depends and Kleenex." I remember Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes being transformed from a timid, crying wreck to a vital, purposeful woman when she took hormones. I see the ads warning me about the danger of heart disease, osteoporosis, vaginal dryness and loss of bladder control. I guess I need a heart man and a bone man.

And I'd like to hear from women who are not taking hormones. Are you alive? How are you surviving? How often do you wet your pants? How many hip fractures and/or heart attacks have you had? Is there any hope for a normal life without hormones?

I've started reading alternative-health newsletters, articles on different kinds of natural estrogens and progesterones, phytoestrogens and soy.

What? My insurance agent just called to inform me that my car insurance has been canceled. "I thought I paid," I said.

"You did, but too late. They'll reimburse you in October. Meanwhile, you need to come to my office because you're illegal."

"Maybe it's menopause," I offered. I don't mention the Allen gene.

"Well you might as well blame it on that. I went through menopause many years ago and I've felt better ever since."

I seized the opportunity, "Do you take hormones?"

"No, I tried them for a while and they made me as crazy as I was before. You know, PMS every month. I stopped the hormones and haven't had any problems since."

That's a welcome ray of hope for life without hormones. Still, I should assess my risks for heart disease and osteoporosis. But right now I'd better go to her office, sign something and make a deposit on car insurance.

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