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Instead of blindly following her doctor's advice, Robin decided to take control of her body. "Healthcare management is not one size fits all," she says. "It's one size for you and you and you."

Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of The Wisdom of Menopause, says there are two types of hormone replacement therapy that Robin could have chosen: bioidentical and synthetic. Dr. Northrup says there is some confusion as to how bioidentical hormones are created. "Bioidentical means it matches exactly the molecular structure of the hormone that your own body produces—it's a hormone from Mother Nature. So if you get the raw material from soybeans and yams, which they do, and then you convert it into something that matches your own body's hormone exactly, that is a bioidentical hormone," she says.

Dr. Northrup says synthetic hormones, the more conventional approach for treatment, differ from bioidenticals in their structure. "[Synthetic hormones are] made from horse urine and are natural for a horse. But they're synthetic for a human body. They are often added to a synthetic progestin, which doesn't match anything like your body's natural progesterone. It has completely different effects...Many women do well on these."

After doing extensive research, Robin decided that, for her, the best route was bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.

Get answers about both types of hormone therapy.

Watch Dr. Northrup explain the basics of menopause, perimenopause and why someone might want to take hormones. Watch
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FROM: The Great Debate: Should You Replace Your Hormones?
Published on January 15, 2009

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