Regarding your column titled "Hot Damn" (7/6/07): I've endured hot flashes as well. I tried taking estrogen for a while, but it wasn't a good idea because of a tendency toward cancer in my family. A cousin of mine then suggested I read Dr. John R. Lee's book What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause. It was an eye-opener. Following Dr. Lee's advice, I've been using natural progesterone cream since 1999. It's great. Hot flashes gone! So I suggested it to many of my friends, and they're also happy with the results. The man whose wife is still suffering from hot flashes 10 years later needs to buy her this book as well as some progesterone cream, which is available through vitamin stores. (That's also where I bought the book.)
If you could mention this in an upcoming column, many women will be helped.
Got Creamed: No, thank you, because you've brought up something I wanted to talk about anyway, which is the highly individual ways that women undergo "the change." It's almost hard to believe it's the same basic process, so various are the paths through it. Some women never have hot flashes. Other women never stop having them. (And if the latter ever get their hands on the former, we could have a real massacre on our hands.) But just as there are many paths through this hot, dry terrain, there are also many walking sticks with which to negotiate those paths. Progesterone cream is certainly one. Black cohosh, an herb drawn from the buttercup family, is another. Soy protein is yet another. None of them have a lot of science backing them up, but hey, if it seems to work and it doesn't cause any side effects, what are you waiting for?
One thing I would wait for is an appointment with your doctor. Find out what he/she has to say, then make a decision. Not that the medical establishment has such a glowing track record when it comes to dealing with menopause. (Hormone-replacement therapy, anyone? I didn't think so.) But it's still the best place to start, if only because doctors tend to have excellent malpractice insurance. As for Dr. John R. Lee, I think it's rather curious that a doctor would write a book called What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause. Obviously, he's a bit of a renegade - was, anyway. (He died in 2003.) In fact, he was considered quite the Martin Luther figure for defying the church's - excuse me, the medical community's - view of what happens when women stop ovulating. He thought it led to a problem-causing hormonal imbalance between estrogen and progesterone.
Hence, the problem-solving administration of progesterone cream, which, as you mentioned, is available over the counter (or by mail). Why is it so readily available? Because the FDA considers it a "natural beauty product," therefore unnecessary to regulate. That doesn't mean it doesn't work for hot flashes, only that you may get an added benefit in the looks department. You may be interested to know that, in addition to What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause, there's a whole series of What Your Doctor May Not Tell You books out there, all written by doctors. There's even one on IBS, which, because my doctor hadn't told me about it, I had to look up myself, only to discover that IBS stands for irritable bowel syndrome. As you can imagine, this got my own bowels a little irritated. And when I saw the sheer number of May Not Tell You books, they became downright inflamed.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for modern medicine. But I'm also for appointing oneself one's chief health-care advocate. If progesterone cream worked for you and your friends, great. And I've passed on the news, but it's up to all you red-hot mamas out there to decide if this is news you can use.
If the IRS gives you IBS, write to: MR. RIGHT, ISTHMUS, 101 KING ST., MADISON, WI 53703. OR CALL 251-1206, EXT. 152. OR E-MAIL MRRIGHT@ISTHMUS.COM.