HRT and Me - Has it made any real difference?
Since writing my recent blog: 10 things I wish i’d known about the Perimenopause as an ‘older mum’! (you are not losing your mind!) and receiving such an overwhelming response I thought I’d follow it up with the other question I have been asked ‘Has HRT made a difference yet?
As HRT is not something I expected to be taking this early in life, I thought I’d keep a diary a kind of ‘Bridget Jones – The Peri-Menopause Years’ if you will!
Just a reminder of who I am, in case you haven’t read my previous blog, my name is Zoe. I am 45, have a 5 year old son and I am what is affectionally termed in the medical trade as a ‘Geriatric mum’. I had my son at 40 and honestly I have not stopped feeling tired since I was pregnant. But is this just the acceptable norm for older mums?
I definitely told myself this before I read a brilliantly informative book: ‘Preparing for the Perimenopause and Menopause’ by Dr Louise Newson and after a number of conversation with mums of a similar age I realised we were all putting tiredness, brain fog and a whole host of other things down to age and having kids at a later stage in life. But after reading this book I decided it was worth trying HRT to see if it made a difference to any of my symptoms……and here is the story so far!
Week 3 of HRT
I started using the Evorel Sequi patches 3 weeks ago, you wear the first set of Evorel 50 patches for 2 weeks (changing them twice a week) which contain only Oestrogen then then the same deal with the second lot of patches which contain Progesterone in them leading up to your period (which you still have but ill feed-back on this!) Simple!
Pros so far:
1) Sugar cravings no longer!
I never had a sweet tooth but during pregnancy and ever since I’ve have craved sweet stuff in the evening (I can manage all day but then I give in after my son has gone to bed) It was insatiable and it was every evening!
However the HRT appears to have done two things 1) my sugar craving have virtually gone (to the point I’d eat all my son’s chocolate buttons and not care that he would be disappointed) 2) I also don’t crave alcohol in the same way which must have also been down to the sugar content and the tiredness of course.
2) Tiredness – beware the energy you now appear to have….
After a week on HRT I felt such a boost of energy that I felt like sonic the hedgehog (see previous blog for the reasons why this can happen)….however I did find that with this new super power (well it felt like it, being full of energy) it gave me a false sense of what I was capable of!
It turns out that doing a 45 min PT session in the morning, playing an hour of tennis in the afternoon and then swimming in the evening might have made me feel like I was in my 20’s but I woke up in my 90’s. I had new found energy but I also needed to accept that I’m still in a relatively unfit 45 year old body!
3) The Brain Fog has lifted
I was suffering from a severe amount of self-doubt due to what I genuinely thought was the early onset of Alzheimer’s – I really thought I was losing my basic capabilities from remembering words to finding it hard to hold a train of thought.
Of course, tiredness is bound to impact you if you have young kids, it takes its toll but not to the extent where I felt it was affecting my mental capacity and ability to work effectively. I was going to bed/falling asleep at 9.30 and having a full night until 5.30/6am but still felt so exhausted and woolly headed all the time.
I am delighted to report that this has virtually gone and I am now feeling more confident in my professional capacity and personal sanity!
4) Anxiety Levels have noticeable dropped
It is great to feel a lot less anxiety on a daily basis and this has been improved by a combination of a great therapist Clare Spinks ‘Empowered Feminine’ and HRT. It has also meant that I don’t feel the need to ‘self-medicate’ with either drink or food in the evenings, which again helps with the weight loss. Also anxiety and stress are well known to create hormonal imbalances = weight gain.
5) Aching joints and night sweats
Well the later has gone however I think the joint pain has improved but because I have had energy for the first time in over 5 years I have totally over done it on the exercise front so I will come back to you on this one.
6) Emotionally I feel less like ripping someone’s head off
I do feel more balanced, apart from when I mis-read the instructions on the pack and put on a patch meant for week 3 and 4 (different does) on in week 1, that made me feel very strange!
Ugh! Weight Gain…..and cost!
There is a downside to HRT that I think I am starting to experience and that is the treatment can cause weight gain (in 1 in 10 women), especially if you found you put on weight from taking the pill. I can’t be sure but I think I have gained weight due to these patches as I am definitely eating less rubbish, been eating better and exercising more.
I will keep monitoring this as well as measuring myself (as I don’t find the scales to be a true reflection of my progress as so much can affect it). Also the patches leave a sticky outer mark that is impossible to get off (I am assured baby oil and wipes get it off but at the moment I look like a patch work quilt!)
The final kicker about these patches is that they are viewed by the NHS as two separate medications so you have to pay twice the charges making it nearly £19 but this should be every three months. It's enough to make you hot with rage (but thankfully not a hot flush!)
I will keep coming back with any thoughts and experiences I have over the next couple of months, as they recommend you try them for three months – unless I blow up like a balloon and then the lot will go in the nearest bin!
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