Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Menopause Journey Update

I recently had my 2nd appointment with the new OB/Gyn to follow up after using an estrogen patch and taking extra progesterone (bio-identical Prometrium) at night, which is supposed to be a little sedative, as well as address hormonal needs.                                                                                                                        
I can't say all my symptoms have been addressed by this regimen, but there are 2 positive differences I note so far.  I had a period since my last visit with her, but instead of being 3 weeks long like the last one, it was only about 6 days, and very light the entire time.  I definitely count that as an improvement.  The bigger one, though, is that I wake in the morning when Hubby gets up for work, and am often surprised to note that it's the first time I remember being awake since falling to sleep hours before.  MUCH better than waking several times.  I still sometimes wake too early, and feel tired during the day, but, overall, everything is better with some amount of undisturbed sleep.                                                                                                                                                    
My symptoms that remain are feeling like my brain can't keep up --foggy or unfocused thinking, and headaches before and after my period.  She decided not to do another blood test yet, as she knows that since I'm still cycling, one day's results will be different than another's, so has decided to treat symptoms instead of judge by lab numbers.                                                                                                                   
Listening to the description of how I feel, and asking pointed questions, she determined that it sounds like I'm still a bit low in estrogen, and maybe progesterone, too.  First she wants me to try a higher dose estrogen patch for about 10 days, and if I feel I need more improvement, I'll add in more progesterone for another week and see if I feel better or worse.  After that, I will see her again to re-evaluate what we do from there.                                                                                                                                                     
Another of her ideas is to try a low dose birth-control pill for a year (until my ovaries decide they've finished their job) that will keep my daily hormone levels constantly even.  The lower dose of hormones would probably be safer, but maybe not what I need to help with sleep.  So we'll discuss that further.  It's just nice to have someone finally listen and address my specific needs!!!

A previous related post:
Blaaaahhhh. Aging. Menopause.
 Warning: Probably TMI


  1. although not quite there yet, i am super interested in menopause. thanks for this post. what does your ob say about the hormone replacement therapy/breast cancer link?

  2. Devadeva, Just in case you don't know, the issues start far ahead of actual menopause, which is part of what they haven't told us our whole lives. Forewarned is fore-armed, and understanding what's going on (and that you're not alone) is a big part of the battle. So it's good to know all you can ahead of time. Good for you!

    There are, of course, increased risks for breast cancer and for stroke, blood clots, etc. in using HRT. I try to stick with bio-identicals, which might be less risky, and even though I have a sister who had breast cancer (a non hereditary type), I have relatively low risk for breast cancer or for the cardiovascular problems, because of my weight, diet, lifestyle, and history with breastfeeding and pregnancies. Also, I should only need them short term, which makes it less risky. A situation where each person has to weigh the value vs the possible risks.

  3. Great points. Thanks so much for sharing this part of your life with us. I find the information/discussion very valuable!

  4. I'm so glad you're sleeping better. I've been pretty miserable with night sweats and we're in the discussion phase regarding HRT. I have such a history of female cancers in my family, that it'll be a last resort for me. DH says that he can deal with the current level of crankiness coming from me. When that changes, I'll be looking into the bio-identicals.

  5. I tried to avoid the use myself, but it seemed to get down to HRT or anti-depressants, and I couldn't see taking those, which scare me, when it was a hormonal problem. Since I waited until now, the dr. thinks whatever I do should only be for a year or so. I hope so. I guess my mental state and ability to make it through/be productive every day took a possibly unbalanced priority over the risks.

    I would've liked to be able to 'be strong' through it, and I sometimes feel like a bit of a wimp to resort to HRT. I don't think that's necessarily right, though...It comes from not really understanding how many others go through similar things, I think. So I hope that the more of us speak up, the more comfortable those who aren't to this point yet will be.

  6. Wait, didn't you just have a baby Sabjimata??! But I'm about in the same boat. I'll be 42 in a couple of months and have a 16-month old. Reading this makes me wonder if my more-frequent headaches are hormone related (I think so). I've been crankier lately (blamed it on the remodel and not living in my own house). Sometimes I can't focus either (again, blamed it on the reno stress and on post-partum issues). That all sounds suspicious now!

    And rhome, you are definetly not a wimp. Sometimes resorting to the right medication makes your life and everyone's around you better. That makes you strong for being willing to make the best choice for YOU regardless of a sterotype.

  7. Thanks for the support, Breezy.

    I'm not quite sure what connection you're making about Sabjimata's recent baby...but I want to assure you that perimenopause and child-bearing are definitely not completely separate stages in our lives. There is quite an overlap. I'm sure you've probably heard of 'menopause babies,' where women think they're 'past the age' and 'Surprise!' ;-)

    I had Prince CuddleBunny when I was 44. But the 3 miscarriages, which were, I'm sure, caused by hormonal and age issues were before that. (My OB-Gyn found me lacking in progesterone at that time, and I took progesterone into my 14th week with Prince CB) The perimenopause symptoms came on after the first miscarriage, which was just before my 41st birthday. Others have symptoms starting in their latter 30s. I think being constantly pregnant and/or nursing helped hold mine off.

    The hard part about these symptoms is that we're also experiencing more stresses in this time of life...renovations, kids growing up and having activities and their own issues, parent issues, etc., etc. and it's hard to distinguish between possible causes to symptoms. If you notice any pattern in your headaches that coincide with certain times of your cycle, you definitely have a link.

  8. Taking a higher dosed estrogen patch would be a good idea to balance the level of your estrogen and progesterone. What type of estrogen treatment were you taking? Was it the transdermal estrogen or oral estrogen? It would be better if you take the transdermal estrogen as this treatment does not increase clotting proteins as compared to oral estrogen, so the risks of blood clots may be reduced.

    Jennifer West

  9. Thanks for the input. This was written in Feb 2011, so there have been changes and updates since:

    As it says above, I use a hormone patch, so transdermal. The dr. tried birth control pills at one point, but they were NOT the answer. So I went back to 0.1 Vivelle Dot Estradiol patch and up to 300 mg progesterone, which seems to be the best answer for me so far.... most of the time. ;-)

    Everyone is so different, though, I don't want anyone to think this is automatically the answer for them, but a possible option, and, mostly, encouragement to keep looking for answers if you need help and don't feel right.


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