Debunking Myths on Hormone Therapy

By Bridgett Garratt, co-host of Hot Flashes & Cool Topics podcast

The Doctor Is In

One of the many benefits of co-hosting this podcast is that we get to talk to experts like Dr. Liz Lyster.

Dr. Lyster has been a Board Certified OB/GYN doctor for almost 30 years and a menopause expert.

She explains the myths about hormone replacement and how it may be safely taken by women in her book Go for Great! Dr. Liz’s Guide to Thrive at Every Age?

She also answers many of women’s menopause questions in her previous book Dr. Liz’s Easy Guide to Menopause: 5 Simple Steps to Balancing Your Hormones and Feeling Like Yourself Again.

These books are not only invaluable resources for women, but also vital information to share with our doctors.

Menopause relief options are available!

Who hasn’t experienced the dreaded night sweats and hot flashes from menopause?

Many women feel they have no choice but to power through them and simply do not believe that treatments such as hormone therapy are an option.

Why do we think that way?

It was largely due to the 2002 Women’s Health Initiative Studies that examined the effects from post-menopausal women who took estrogen with progesterone or estrogen alone.

The “WHI” study concluded that taking these forms of hormone replacement increased a woman’s risk of breast cancer and heart disease (among other health issues).

Unfortunately, this information was not completely accurate and as bad news goes, it traveled quicker than the subsequent explanation of the studies’ true results.

Further studies by the Women’s Health Initiative found that women in a group who were give “estrogen only” had fewer instances of breast cancer than women who received only the placebo.

Twenty years later, doctors and researchers are still trying to correct this misinformation.

Facts vs. Fiction

On Season 1 of our podcast, we discussed with Dr. Lyster the stages of perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause and the uncomfortable and significant side effects that often accompany this transition in life.

Dr. Liz discussed options for improving many of the symptoms including the use of Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy and other medications.

She clarified many of the incorrect “results” in the early 2000 reports surrounding HTs and explained the benefits of Bio-Identical estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.

She emphasized the significance of checking cortisol levels, DHEA, thyroid and adrenal glands as they are all interconnected and relevant to this transitional stage of life.

Relative risk vs. Absolute risk

Dr. Liz also states in her book that understanding the relative risk vs. the absolute risk is key to understanding how likely a woman is to develop breast cancer if she is taking hormone therapy.

In Go for Great! , Dr. Lyster states that “In one group, nine women out of ten thousand taking the placebo (sugar pill) developed breast cancer. In the group given estrogen/progestin hormone replacement, thirteen women out of ten thousand developed breast cancer.”

She also noted that four out of ten thousand women who underwent hormone therapy got breast cancer.

These statistics clearly indicate that the premature conclusions drawn from the initial reports did not reflect the actual data.

The biggest takeaways from Dr. Lyster

  • That hormones are safe when taken correctly.
  • Avoid oral hormones because they must pass through the liver
  • Topical or insertion in the skin is the best choice for hormone replacement
  • Make sure to check your cortisol levels, DHEA, thyroid and adrenal glands
  • Doctors are not always caught up on the most recent studies and research.
  • Be Your Own Advocate!

Resources: Hot Flashes & Cool Topics Episode 17: GO FOR GREAT WITH DR. LIZ LYSTER – AN INTERVIEW ON MENOPAUSE Dr. Liz Lyster’s website:

mySysters is an app for women in perimenopause and menopause. Good Housekeeping and Woman’s Day named mySysters the Best App for Women in Perimenopause and a Must Have App for Women.

The preceding information does not constitute medical advice or treatment.