LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – We know that up to 90% of women going through menopause develop sometimes debilitating symptoms.

Doctors said the most effective treatment is hormone therapy, but many won’t prescribe it.

However, the tide is changing.

When 52-year-old Vogal James developed exhaustion and night sweats, she thought she was coming down with something. But it wasn’t the flu, it was menopause.

“I was just like clutching my pearls. What do you mean menopause?” she said.

Thirty years ago, most women like Vogal were given estrogen, often with progesterone, not only to treat menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, fatigue, and mood swings but also to reduce their risk of chronic disease.

Then a landmark study published in JAMA in 2002 found a small increased risk of heart disease and breast cancer in women taking hormones.

But the average age of women in the study was 63, yet women in their 40s and 50s were all of a sudden told to stop using their hormones..

“It was never stated by the WHI investigators that women taking hormone therapy should immediately toss their pills and patches. But that is how the results were interpreted
And a 70-80% reduction in the use of hormones, leaving millions of women without relief and most clinicians not even willing to discuss them as an option, but that is changing,” said the study’s author, Dr. Joann Manson.

Dr. Tara Iyer is a menopause specialist at Brigham.

“The data frankly shows that for certain candidates in healthy younger women with no contraindications, the benefits far outweigh the risks,” she said.

“We started on estrogen and it’s been a game changer. What I want women to have is control of their menopause.”