Social and Education Evening May '07

Tuesday 29th May

Hi guys,

Just a small turnout of three for the recent info/social night in Auckland, but it was well worth it for those who braved the cold. Monterrey Marks is a compounding pharmacist and shared with us her knowledge of the normal female cycle and the changes that occur around menopause.

She got into a lot of detail about HRT – both synthetic and bio-identical forms. She discussed issues of HRT for symptom control vs HRT for health. Her view of the WHI trial (that concluded HRT gives you cancer) is that it wasn’t well designed, nor are the results relevant to women in our situation (as doctors have told many women in the group). She stressed that HRT is a personal choice and all she can do is offer her professional opinion to try to help women take as low a dose as possible while still managing symptoms, protecting general health and trying not to break the bank! She advocates using "natural progesterone" creams and oestrogen delivered via the skin.

She was not blatantly pushing bio-identical hormones but we did discuss them a lot. So I had to ask her if she went along with the late Dr John Lee's claims about "natural progesterone". She said she thinks he had some good ideas, but then unfortunately started making claims and promises with no evidence to support them. I have found most in the medical community think very little of his wild claims so I was quite relieved to hear she is not one of his followers. I don't want to be taken for a ride by anyone - this is my health they're playing with.

She didn't suggest that everyone on synthetic HRT should come off it. She was basically letting us know there's something else out there if we're not happy with our current situation for whatever reason.

As a ball-park figure, she estimated bio-identical hormone therapy costs around $45/month. Quite a bit more than the $15 every 3 months I pay for my government-subsidised HRT, but can you put a price on your long-term health?

She also advocates a varied diet & exercise to maintain optimum health (of course!).

She had a lot of information on supplements available to support the body in general and also areas of particular interest to women in early menopause like the adrenal and thyroid glands. I hadn’t realised how important these other areas were now that my ovaries don’t work normally – an interesting topic for my next specialist visit.

There’s even a product out there that helps replenish nutrients lost when taking HRT. Another side-effect I wasn't aware of.

She also brought along a whole lot of great documentation that we’re hoping to put up on the website soon so everyone can access them.

The sheets are:

1. The normal (average) female cycle and the hormones involved
(a basic overview – good reference)

2. Lifestyle considerations that can impact Hormone Health
(a small document Monterrey has put together that covers diet, exercise, stress)

3. Working from Within
(a larger sheet with more info on diet & lifestyle)

4. Hormone and Supplement – Summary Basics
(a sheet containing nutritional advice & some websites for more info on natural therapies)

5. Ovarian Hormone Therapy for Women with Early Menopause
(an article by Dr Jerilynn C Prior of the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research. She says the article is "to help you feel confident about knowing how and when to take ovarian hormone therapy for a long and healthy life".)

6. ABCs of Bone Health for Menopausal Women
(aimed at the mid-life menopause woman, but with useful general information)

7. Confessions of a Hot Flush Queen
(a magazine article about hot flushes and how to cope from a compounding pharmacist’s perspective)

8. The Daily Menopause Diary
(a tool for tracking symptoms – something Monterrey often finds more useful than blood tests to create a personalised hormone regime)

To view these documents, please follow this link.

If you would like to discuss your situation with her, she is available for appointments at Albany Care Chemist, Albany, Auckland. Her email address is

We all felt we'd learned a lot and hope you find the information useful as well.