Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Oh what a tangled web we weave, or Are you the real thing?

"Are you for real?"
The question guys most frequently ask Yours Truly.

It appears that Oprah Winfrey is going hormonal again. If you missed the recent episode with Suzanne Somers (and I did--I've missed every episode of The Oprah Winfree Show ever shown!), then you might be interested in the Newsweek review of it. Unfortunately, Newsweek isn't offering free linking to online articles or I'd point you there. But, I've read it and it was interesting.

Bottom line: Newsweek assessed her TV show as not fair and balanced, but her concurrent Oprah magazine article on the same topic as far better.

But what were they about? Bioidentical hormones compared to conjugated equine estrogens (CEE) and synthetic conjugated estrogens (CSE) for women in menopause, either natural or surgically induced.

I am most assuredly not as studied-up on bioidentical hormones as Suzanne Somers and Oprah Winfrey. I wouldn't dream of giving anyone, male or female, any opinion about the state of his or her own hormones. I just learned from reading around today that even without hormone or estrogen replacement, a woman's body will produce a small amount of estradiol through her adrenal cortex tissue whether she has any functioning ovaries or not.

I'm writing this article mostly to gripe about--marketing and words.

I had a TVH-BSO (total vaginal hysterectomy-bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy) in 2004. Gone were the evil ovaries that patently and categorically refused to give me peace. In the month leading up to my surgery, I did intensive reading and pondering about post-surgical ovarian secretion substitutes. Only for my own self did I do this, so don't anyone run to a doctor and say "Well, Parin Stormlaughter said such-and-such was the best..."


Conjugated equine estrogens are made from the urine of pregnant horses--mares. The drug industry calls them the "natural" estrogens. Synthetic conjugated estrogens are made from plants and plant extracts and the drug industry does not consider them to be natural.

Please take a moment to glance at this chart from the Premarin website. Notice the page is entitled "Common Alternate Estrogen Replacement Therapy Products in the U.S." Notice that in the URL string it's "synth". Is that short for synthetics?

Ladies and gentlemen (and guys, I hope for the love of the women in your life that you're still with me here), there is nothing synthetic about a yam. Or soybeans, unless they're genetically-modified soybeans and that's for another column...

In my opinion, there is nothing more naturally human or "real" about equine estrogen nor anything "synthetic" about plant-based estradiol. There, I've said it.

There are arguments to be made on both sides. One could validly point out inconsistencies between people who eat horse meat but refuse to take CEEs. One could validly point out that putting a yam through the processing necessary to conjugate an estrogen is about as far from the tuber as you can get.

I see both sides. I am repelled by the thought of putting anything derived from mare urine in my mouth, which is what one does when taking Premarin. I try to be consistent, though. I'm repelled by the thought of ever needing a pig valve for my heart for example, and someday I may be faced with that decision depending on how my mitral valve prolapse goes.

I don't use placenta products on my hair. There are all sorts of skin care products that use what they euphemistically call "DNA" in their products designed to be absorbed through skin capillaries. I'll eat a burger now and then but I could easily be a happy lacto-ovo vegetarian (and was for a few years).

I'm a true child of the land. Horse manure makes marvelous compost (although really, chicken manure is better if you can get it). My sister-in-law was a state champion equestrian in her teenage years. She and I used to ride, she on her rescued thoroughbred racehorse who had fractured his leg and would have been destroyed if she had not taken him in, and me on her old childhood quarter horse. The quarter horse retired to the loving home of a child with skeletal difficulties where he made the child's life bloom--that's a story I want to write someday. Love, love, love horses.

I guess I'm complaining that mare-urine-derived estrogen does NOT seem more natural for humans than plant-derived estradiol. Sounds like a marketing strategy designed to pull in people who otherwise have no opinion but feel like "natural health" is better than synthetic health. Gripes the left side of my behind to see marketing strategies of this sort.

I use Vivelle-dot, whose estradiol is derived from yams. I had nearly completed very early menopause when I had my surgery at 43 years of age. When I started Vivelle-dot, I was suddenly in a world that I never knew could be so...even. Any menopausal woman needing to feel better deserves to, and I'll stand right beside you on that.

And I won't criticize you for what you choose. We all have very important decisions to make about our bodies. I'm there.

Be aware that drug-industry generated labels may or may not conform to your own beliefs. Read, study, ponder, sift it all through your belief system, and be able to explain your decision if you are challenged. Keep up with the latest information.

And know that the Sparkling One will be here to share what gripes the left side of her behind. It's big enough for plenty of things to gripe it, that's for sure. :D

The answer to my most FAQ is yes, I'm very much as I appear to be. If you like me on the outside, you'll love me on the inside. Dadgum head in the beehive...must be Valentine's Day in the air.

Copyright 2008-2009 Parin Stormlaughter, Sparkling With Crystals, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. I do not grant reprint permission under any circumstances. Contact me to request permission to link. And remember that if my work gets published anywhere else, I'll pray for you. And perhaps take legal action. Rest assured, prayer is far more effective.

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