Saturday, May 21, 2011

Time for Another Menopause Journey Update

I realized it'd been quite some time since I'd discussed this.  I think the reason, besides other things taking my attention, is that this issue now demands less attention in my life... Yay!  I am so thankful this latest doctor was recommended to me, and so thankful I 'gave in' to trying hormone therapy.                                                                                                                            
I no longer dread bedtime, hungering so much for sleep, but knowing it will just be an oft-disturbed disappointment.  Instead, I awaken maybe once during the night, and otherwise, sleep at least until Hubby is rummaging around to get ready for work.  I no longer have days where it feels like too much work to walk up the stairs.  It's been a joy to host dinner guests, instead of something I avoid.                                                                                                                                                                   
I haven't had an anxiety/panic attack for quite some time.  I have occasional, short-lived episodes of lower level anxiety (more of an agitation/worry state), some minor heart rhythm irregularities or rapid heart beat (heart palpitations), and some hormonal headaches... But they always seem link to things, like starting a period within 24-48 hours of the problem.  Periods still come at strange times, at this point, more often than usual.  Most are very light.  I can take that as long as I feel more sane and feel, more consistently, like I can handle life.                                                                                                                                                
At this point, I am on a Vivelle Dot Estradiol patch (.075 mg) and oral, bio-identical progesterone (200 mg).  * I only share the type and dosage amounts for reference.  From reading reviews and info, and knowing how variable hormones and related symptoms are, these will not work the same for everyone. *  If I start any bleeding and also have one of the headaches, I am supposed to use a higher dosage patch (.1 mg) for a week, and increase my progesterone (to 300 mg per day) during that week.  The problem is that the symptoms aren't that clear, and not always simultaneous.                                                                                                                                         
In looking at a calendar of the last 2 months, I also noticed that, even though the doctor said HRT rarely affects menses, 2 days after returning to the lower dose patch, I would start some sort of bleeding, whether it be just spotting or a period.  So this past month, without period and headache happening simultaneously, I decided to try keeping the hormone doses level and see what happened.  I was doing well, with only a couple of anxious mornings and a couple of headaches, until this last week or so.  I had a period that was heavier than the scant ones I've had lately...More like a normal one from previous years.  I started it feeling pretty good, but at the end, which has seemed typical of recent periods, I felt more worried and aggravated... Just not myself, and really felt that my estrogen was low.  So I went ahead and increased the hormones.  But I think it's something like closing the barn door after the cows have started flowing out... It's hard to catch up with the situation.  Anyway, still not anything like my nasty experiences of the past, so I'm not going to complain too much.                                                                                                                                                                    
Reading back through my prior report, Menopause Journey Update, I found that I gave some inaccurate information.  I thought my doctor had indicated that I'd only be on hormones for a year or so.  But she has clarified with me that until age 60, she believes there are clear and major benefits to staying on HRT, such as bone health, and some decreased cancer risks. She says there are pluses and minuses concerning heart health, but overall, the evidence favors HRT during that time, unless there are specific contraindications for a particular patient.  The information out there in the news is so confusing, I feel confident in believing my doctor on this one.                                                                                                                                                                            
My other piece of misinformation was regarding low-dose birth control pills.  I thought those would give me hormones in lower dosages than I've been taking, but that was false.   Even though they are 'low dose' compared to other options or older versions, there is actually a constantly higher level of hormones so that my body would shut off its own production.  This would give me more constant levels without the rises and falls that cause the headaches and mood swings.  The downside would be a possible higher dose than I need most of the time, and I may lose the sleep help that I now receive from the nighttime dose of progesterone.  So, for now, I feel happy with the course I'm on.
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