It Must Be My Hormones – The HRT Debate

It Must Be My Hormones – The HRT Debate

One of my Fabulous Fifty resolutions for 2017 is to address my hormones once and for all.  This may seem an overly dramatic statement but it is something I have been battling with for a while.  I have written previously about my menopausal madness which manifests itself largely with me feeling irritable, impatient, forgetful, tired and fuzzy headed. Everyone's experience is different and I am sure as my mid-life journey continues my symptoms will vary but this period of transition for me currently is all about my mood and general feeling of well-being.

Hormones regulate every function in our bodies and when in balance they make us feel healthy, energetic and more in control of our lives.  As we age and some of these hormones decline then the balance is upset and a range of symptoms like mine may manifest themselves.

I have always suffered from severe PMS but this is on a different scale.  For a couple of years now I have dipped in and out of various consultations with my GP and been referred to a gynaecologist regarding the best way forward and HRT is always presented as my saviour.  My mother started taking HRT in her mid-40's and to this day absolutely swears that it saved her sanity.  But we live in a different world now.  Is it the be all and end all?

Some friends have sailed through the menopause without any problems at all apart from a steely determination to not let it beat them!  Others have battled with hot flushes and horrific insomnia and come out the other end with a bigger waist.  Very few, however, have actually turned to HRT.

HRT is and always will be a hot topic and in recent years, many women have stopped taking it because of apparent growing evidence that the risks outweigh the benefits.  I am not adverse to chemicals, if there is a pill to rid me of something I will always be first in the queue.  Also I don't pay much attention to these trials as they are rarely conducted on a sample that matches "me", but I have listened to the arguments over the years and as the time drew closer for me to make a choice and stop dithering, I decided that I didn't want a one size fits all approach.

Our health is our wealth and I want to be better informed about the choices available to help me get through this peri-menopausal hell and looking ahead, to be better prepared for the menopause and all the life changes that has to bring.  The decision I make now is a long-term investment in my health and to that end I decided I would rather have a treatment that was tailor-made for "me" and what was happening specifically in "my" body.

So on this basis, research and recommendations from friends led me to look at bio-identical hormone treatment which uses plant-derived hormones that are identical in chemical structure to those found in the human body.  Basically this means that because they are an exact copy of the hormones we produce they work in our body in the way they are supposed to and prescribed properly do not carry with them any of the side effects or health risks of HRT.

For my birthday present to myself I booked a consultation which included a review of my medical history, a full physical examination and blood tests to review my hormone and thyroid function, blood biochemistry, Vitamin D levels and full blood count.  These tests aside, to me the most important questions I was asked were "Why are you here?  What concerns you the most?  What do you want to achieve from this for yourself?"  Dealing with women and their hormones on a daily basis whether, pre-natal, post-natal or menopausal must be tedious but no medical professional had actually asked me these questions before about "me" and how "I" was actually feeling, just about my symptoms.

So what did I achieve?  Well after a very thorough consultation I returned a week later for the results.  On that morning my husband texted me and said "I hope you get the answers you want."  Ultimately that is what I wanted  more than anything else.  I wanted someone to say you are experiencing this because of X, Y and Z.  Did I get that? Yes I did.  In hindsight I don't know how I would have felt if I hadn't but in short my tests confirmed that I was peri-menopausal (no surprise there really); my oestrogen level was decreasing but most significantly of all my progesterone level was low.

Being presented with a sheet of numbers for my bloods and being shown where my figures sit in the normal range was great but I needed a translation of what this meant and how it related to my situation. Well oestrogens perform a range of vital tasks in our body such as regulating our body temperature, helping us to sleep, supporting the collagen in our skin, maintaining our memory, concentration and bone density as well as helping to keep our moods positive. If that isn't enough they also protect us from cardiovascular disease and assist in the production of serotonin, which is responsible for decreasing depression, irritability and anxiety.

As for progesterone, well it truly is the happy hormone.  Its primary function is to relieve tension in the body; it decreases anxiety and depression and also relaxes us, thus keeping us calm and balanced.  On the whole it is a natural tranquiliser.  It is the first hormone to be depleted on our way to menopause and those who are progesterone deficient commonly complain of excessive irritability and mood swings like me.

As a result I have been prescribed a carefully calibrated dose of bio-identical hormones to apply in a cream via the skin twice a day.  The emphasis is on increasing my progesterone levels but I have also been prescribed an oestrogen cream as it is important that both hormones are at a level where they both balance each other because this is what it is all about, restoring my body's hormonal balance and thus getting everything back on track.  I recognise that this is not a miracle cure, but just one component of managing my mid-life changes, however, at the moment I am in right now, it is a potential antidote for my crazy lady syndrome and for that I and my family will be grateful as long as it works of course!  It is very early days but until my review in 8 weeks I am doing as instructed and applying the cream.

 

If you have taken the time to read this post, then thank you and please do leave a comment. x

 

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52 Comments

  1. March 7, 2017 / 7:50 pm

    A great post! Boy us women go through a lot don’t we? I have to say this isn’t something I’d thought about but I guess it comes to us all hey? I hope things work well for you. Xx
    Thanks for linking to #pocolo
    (Sorry for the epically late comment!)

  2. February 12, 2017 / 8:54 am

    My mother never went through menopause, she had a full hysterectomy quite young. Having suffered anxiety all my life it does worry me how I will cope with hormonal changes. Thank you for sharing this, it was great to read and understand better xx #mg
    Mackenzie Glanville recently posted…#MummyShot week 5 round upMy Profile

    • February 12, 2017 / 7:50 pm

      None of us know how we will be until we are in the thick of it. As I say some of my friends have got through it without a single issue others have suffered in silence. I have just decided to seize the bull by the horns and tackle the symptoms sooner rather than later. I am still very much in the early stages of the peri-menopause which surprised me because of my age so only time will tell how I fare. Thanks for commenting. #mg

  3. February 9, 2017 / 10:15 pm

    Really interesting post – thanks for sharing with #PoCoLo – I’ve had a letter from the doctors about a check up and before I could contemplate when to book and when might be convenient I got another one chasing up, and I was like woah! I know I should and now I most likely will, but oh doctors surgeries can be oh so annoying. Glad you got what you were after.
    Stephanie Robinson recently posted…Coffee pots, Vouvray and arriving in ToursMy Profile

    • February 12, 2017 / 7:52 pm

      It is good that your doctor is taking an interest that is one thing to be thankful of. Good luck with it all – you maybe sailing through without a hitch and not be aware! Thanks for commenting Stephanie. #PoCoLo

  4. February 8, 2017 / 10:40 pm

    I suffer from awful PMT (as my family will confirm) so I am dreading what the future has in store for me! I will make a note of this it could well come in handy.Thank you for linking to#ablogginggoodtime

    • February 9, 2017 / 9:24 am

      Maybe you will be lucky and grow out of it – in the meantime if you are not already look at taking some evening primrose oil – it is my godsend! #ablogginggoodtime

  5. February 6, 2017 / 4:48 pm

    This is interesting! Obviously I’m on a similar page – as you know, but also had a conversation with someone this morning who has a friend following the same course of action as you. Something I hadn’t heard of and now there’s two of you. I think it’s important to be able to attribute the symptoms. Once you know it makes it easier. I’m also very keen not to make it a way of life too – you will know what I mean by this #PoCoLo
    Nicky Kentisbeer recently posted…A Personalised Bauble Is Not Just for Valentine’s DayMy Profile

    • February 6, 2017 / 6:55 pm

      You have hit the nail on the head Nicky in terms of the importance of attributing the symptoms. As we all know they are varied and I was not experiencing a lot of the typical symptoms so was keen to just treat the ones I was with a view to also taking preventative measures for the future. This course of action seemed to tick a lot of my boxes and as I said in the post our health is our wealth so it is an investment for my future too. I am only a week in so it was too early to say what is changing if anything – only time will tell. #PoCoLo

  6. February 5, 2017 / 5:21 am

    approaching 46 this year, the menopause is something I should start taking heed of, I really don’t know much about it, my mother went through it when i left home so I have no experience of what it may be like or what to expect. Popping over from PoCoLo

    • February 5, 2017 / 2:37 pm

      I think it is something none of us pay heed to until we are in the thick of it really and start experiencing some changes in our life. I certainly didn’t. Thanks for popping by. #PoCoLo

  7. February 4, 2017 / 10:11 pm

    It’s great to have some inside knowledge ahead of time. My mum was late with menopause, so I’m in denial and not giving it a thought. However, it’s interesting reading your experiences and I shall refer back when it hits. Good luck with it all and thank you for sharing your experiences. Alison x #FamilyFun

    • February 5, 2017 / 2:32 pm

      Thanks Alison, it’s all work in progress at the moment but it will be interesting to see how things change or improve over time. #FamilyFun

  8. February 3, 2017 / 10:59 pm

    It sounds like you have really thought this all through and as the saying goes there’s power in knowledge. #globalblogging

    • February 4, 2017 / 2:47 pm

      Helena that is very true, you are right. Thanks for reading. #globalblogging

        • February 12, 2017 / 7:53 pm

          Oh thanks Helena I know you have already commented. #mg x

  9. February 3, 2017 / 9:10 pm

    Such an interesting read. I have never heard of HRT before. I know my mother had a hormone “chip” inserted into her thigh every 6 months, and she seemed to sail through menopause. I’m interested to read your review. Looking forward to it! xxx Thanks for sharing #globalblogging

    • February 4, 2017 / 2:46 pm

      Maybe it’s a UK term? A hormone chip sounds like an interesting concept too, don’t think they offer that here. Thanks for your comments. #globalblogging

  10. February 2, 2017 / 9:01 pm

    Really interesting and must be a bit daunting for you. I’m not so sure my hormones are all that balanced now, God help me in a few years!

    #bigpinklink

    • February 3, 2017 / 4:45 pm

      Our hormones fluctuate throughout our lives due to puberty, childbirth and then where I am the dreaded menopause years and I think we all just get on with it most of the time don’t we without question? Thanks for reading and commenting. #bigpinklink

  11. February 2, 2017 / 8:32 pm

    A cream? Wow wasn’t expecting that! I really hope you get the results you are hoping for, there really is so much to think about as we get older isn’t there…
    Thanks so much for sharing with #coolmumclub

    • February 3, 2017 / 4:21 pm

      Yes I couldn’t my head around that bit at the beginning but actually it just seems kinder by its nature, although you are advised to wash your hands after applying it to avoid passing it onto someone else! Hadn’t really considered cross contamination of hormones but thinking about it could see that would be a problem! Thanks for commenting. #coolmumclub

  12. February 2, 2017 / 12:09 pm

    Thank you this is really useful as I am also at this stage of life as well. So far I’m kind of muddling through. It seems to be working so far, but I’m going to see how it goes and continue talking to my doctor. Good luck with the treatment #coolmumsclub

    • February 2, 2017 / 8:44 pm

      Yes that is exactly what I did, just keep talking and discussing your options and you will know when or if you need to do more. Thanks for commenting. #coolmumclub

  13. February 2, 2017 / 11:38 am

    This was really interesting to read, I’m so pleased that you’ve got the answers and I hope it works! Thanks for linking up with #bigpinklink H x

    • February 2, 2017 / 8:46 pm

      I am hoping it does, I have been tested for sure over the weekend with my son and was surprisingly calm in a situation that would have normally sent me into orbit! Thanks for commenting. #BigPinkLink

  14. February 2, 2017 / 7:57 am

    That’s really interesting information about the hormones that I wasn’t aware of. It’s no wonder or bodies struggle it really is such a change. I wasn’t aware there were alternative treatments either but it sounds very thorough and I really do hope it is helpful and would love to hear how you get on. I would also be keen to know why it is prescribed as a cream and not a tablet. Thanks for joining us at #familyfun
    Tammymum recently posted…#Familyfun…Week 20My Profile

    • February 3, 2017 / 4:38 pm

      Until I started looking into it I didn’t realise how prevalent it is as a treatment, but of course it comes with a price which is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I figure that spread across the years it is going to take me to come out the other side it is the price of a cup of tea per day! Re your point on the cream, apparently topical treatments have less side effects than those taken orally, because they do not cause the liver produce harmful byproducts. #familyfun

  15. February 2, 2017 / 7:52 am

    Im so glad that you got some answers. I hope the cream works for you. All the best! Thank you for linking up to #globalblogging

    • February 2, 2017 / 8:21 am

      Oh thank you so much and for taking the time to read and comment. #globalblogging

  16. February 1, 2017 / 12:04 pm

    I’ll be interested to see how the hormone cream helps you.
    I’m in the middle of this too but don’t really have any horrendous symptoms (don’t hate me). In fact, as someone who has been hypothyroid for many years, I like being warm 🙂
    #familyfun

    • February 1, 2017 / 12:32 pm

      Ha ha. Lucky you. I envy those that just sail through it. I have very dear friends that did just that. #familyfun

  17. February 1, 2017 / 1:30 am

    This was such an interesting post to read and you’ve really made me think carefully about the health related decisions I make in the future. I think its great that something like this exists as an alternative to modern day medicine, which is not always the best solution and remedy for everyone. I’d love to hear how you get on a little further down the line, I hope it does what you need it to, to start to feel more balanced 🙂 Great post, thanks for sharing it on #MarvMondays. Emily

    • February 1, 2017 / 8:48 am

      Thanks Emily. It is easy to ignore many of these hormone related symptoms as just being part of life and I agonised for a long time as to whether to grab the bull by the horns and actually do something. None of these things are miracle cures but from I know about this alternative HRT it is good for pinpointing a specific cause rather than adopting the a scatter-gun approach. Fingers crossed anyway! Thanks for commenting. #MarvMondays

  18. January 31, 2017 / 8:27 pm

    This is a really interesting post. Glad you got some good answers! Now that i’m over the 30 mark i’ve been told I need to consider coming off the pill, and i’m looking into coils, but yikes, it’s all such a pain! x #postsfromtheheart

    • January 31, 2017 / 11:04 pm

      I was offered that so often as the mid-way option to HRT, friends I know that are using it, swear by it. Good luck with that one! Thanks for commenting. #PostsFromTheHeart

  19. January 30, 2017 / 6:55 pm

    Hi Jo, our approach to popping hormone tablets and how we approach things has changed, which isn’t a bad thing. I think these days we have so much more information at the tip of our fingers that we do have more choices. I too would much rather deal with it in a more natural way. I have no idea when the menopause will creep up in me as Mum had a hysterectomy young and stayed on hormone tablets so long shed’s not sure she ever went through it herself!

    Hope you have found the crutch that gets you through and thank you for sharing.

    xx
    Debbie recently posted…Monday Morning Blog Club 30/01/17My Profile

    • January 30, 2017 / 9:45 pm

      Debbie, you are so right, there are so many options available to us and more information available to us to make better and more informed choices. Only time will tell in my case. It is still early days. Thanks as always for commenting. x

  20. January 30, 2017 / 5:50 pm

    Great article. Menopause is closing in fast, I can feel it. I hope they have bio-identical hormone therapy in SA. I should start googling before it gets me. #globalblggogging.

    • January 30, 2017 / 6:47 pm

      Hi Jeanette thanks I am glad you enjoyed it. Definitely best to go down the preventative route I think if you can with the menopause as one day it is just there in all its thorny glory! Thanks for commenting. #globalblogging

  21. January 30, 2017 / 2:55 pm

    My mum really struggled with the menopause and as I nudge Ever closer, it’s something that worries me. I avoid medicine except if I’m in dire straights – for no reason other than that I’m too stubborn to admit I need help, so I’ll be really interested to know whether this works for you. It sounds like the ideal middle ground. Thank you so much for sharing it with us at #PostsFromTheHeart
    Mummy Times Two recently posted…Posts From The Heart 30th January 2017My Profile

    • January 30, 2017 / 3:34 pm

      Everyone’s experience is so different. When I turned to my mother and asked how she coped she just said “Simple, HRT” – she is in her 70’s now and I think for her generation it was definitely the done thing to do and no questions asked. I will definitely be reporting back on how my alternative HRT all pans out. Thanks for commenting. #PostsFromTheHeart

  22. January 30, 2017 / 2:22 pm

    I fear that I may be rowing your boat in the next decade or so- informative read.

    #postsfromtheeart

    • January 30, 2017 / 3:42 pm

      It is an inevitable stage unfortunately but prevention is better than a cure for sure. Thanks for your comment Kristin. #PostsFromTheHeart

  23. January 30, 2017 / 12:03 pm

    I’ve just recently watched a documentary on bio-identical hormone theraphy! And when watching, I said to myself, that when my menopause comes, I will try it out. I always try to find alternative and natural ways of healing and hearing you have positive effect of this treatment, makes me even more sure to try it! I’ve seen my mom go trough meno and I must say it hit her quite hard, insomnia, flashes of cold and heat, bad mood, tiredness, lack of appetite,…If I can avoid all this things – I’m up for it!;) Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging!

    • January 30, 2017 / 3:36 pm

      Oh what a conicidence! I have spent months looking into it and to be honest was deterred initially by scepticism, but the more I read the more sense it made. It is not cheap but it is an investment in my future health which I value so that’s my justification anyway. It is very early days yet but I am definitely sleeping better for sure. Watch this space for an update! Thanks for commenting. #globalblogging

  24. January 30, 2017 / 9:34 am

    Oh wow this is so interesting looking into the science of the hormones! I am definitely going to look into this further. Really interested to hear what results you experience my lovely -n or perhaps your family experience! #BigPinkLink
    justsayingmum recently posted…How Well Do Your Children Know You?My Profile

    • January 30, 2017 / 3:37 pm

      It has been an interesting voyage of discovery for sure, now I am just sitting back and waiting to see how my body responds. I will be letting you all know. Thanks for commenting Helen. #BigPinkLink

  25. January 30, 2017 / 9:30 am

    Wow! I don’t think I realised my hormones would turn against me so much! I like to think this is a long time away, but my Mom went through the menopause quite early, so it’s perhaps not as far off as i’d like, and sure to sneak up.

    I’m glad you have some answers and can start making decisions and moving forward. #marvmondays

    • January 30, 2017 / 3:39 pm

      Yes they do say to look to your mother for an indication of how you may react. My mother started taking HRT quite early at the outset of her symptoms and whilst I am a bit later than her I am trying to adopt the preventative approach. Thanks for commenting Donna. #MarvMondays