By Grattan Woodson, MD, FACP
It is important to distinguish between natural aging, which is unavoidable, and hormone deficiency due to menopause, which is a compromise natural selection made with humankind to ensure its survival. Aging is simply due to copy errors that accumulate in the DNA during cell replication. This is the cause of the aging process and occurs in all of us. It is what places a cap on our longevity at about 105 years. Gina, pictured here with her baby, Jaya, is the first ape found to have undergone a menopause. This biological process was originally thought to be exclusive to humans. This suggests humans are not as dissimilar from orangutans as first thought.
Menopause developed for an entirely different reason that has nothing to do with longevity or aging. Menopause is much more fundamental because it was needed for the very survival of our species. Menopause as we know it has been with us for millions of years and all of our nonhuman primate buddies go through it too. This includes gorillas, baboons, and chimps.
So how did all of us end up with this really lousy deal? Why is it that women have to suffer the hormone deficiency that accompanies ovarian failure at an average age of 50 when she has another 30 years of life expectancy remaining? Studies show that the loss of these hormones promote numerous chronic diseases including heart disease, dementia, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, and cancer to name a few of the major concerns. Why would Mother Nature do that to her innocent children? It makes no sense. These are the questions I struggled with for years until I finally realized that our Mother had to make a terrible choice, one that had short-term benefits but long-term consequences. These consequences are the medical problems mentioned above but they would not manifest until her children lived long enough to experience them. That time is now and today we are confronted with the consequences of the “Great Compromise.”
The question is what is the best and safest way to manage the impact of hormone deficiency on postmenopausal women with what we know? Menopause is something that occurs with age but I argue is not a consequence of aging. Rather it is an intelligent compromise that nature recognized as a survival necessity for our ancient ancestors. Specifically, can you imagine what would happen if women in their 50s and beyond routinely had children?
My goodness, the medical and social complications would be enormous. Our situation today is the same as it was then. It would obviously be a calamity if women did not lose their fertility at midlife. Every woman would have her tubes tied. While we do not wish to reverse the loss of fertility due to menopause, we absolutely do want to remedy the mandatory state of hormone deficiency produced by gonadal failure. Today, we can safely restore a healthy and balanced hormonal environment for postmenopausal women that does not restore fertility or require the return of the menstrual cycle. Who could ask for more? The advantage of nature’s compromise is honored but without women having to pay the terrible price.
At Women’s Optimal Health and Wellness, we offer a suite of services including bioidentical hormones to restore and conserve the health, fitness, and beauty of women around menopause. For more information contact our director, Kim Teasley at 404.574.2373 or visit us at www.FemeRegen.net
Grattan Woodson, MD, FACP • 404-574-2373 • 1418 Dresden Dr., Suite #225 Atlanta, GA