It started when I was 51. The hot flashes, the night sweats, the up and down moods, the irregular periods. My skin seemed to get dryer and more brittle by the day. My husband joked that if I wanted to be grumpy, just be grumpy. Don’t blame the hormones, he said.
I was in the early phases of menopause, dubbed perimenopause. My ovaries’ production of estrogen and progesterone was on a downward slide, hence the hot flashes, mood swings and periods that seem to come and go randomly.
It did not help that my best friend sailed through it all unscathed. No perimenopause. She went straight into menopause without any discernible suffering or hassle. She simply stopped having periods. And that was that. I think she thought I was putting on, being a drama queen.
I managed to find a group of women who were in the same boat as I. I thought it would help me to talk about it. But it turned out to be a running moaning and pity party and so I gave it up.
I went to the doctor to discuss things. She explained that Hormone Replacement Therapy might help with the hot flashes and mood swings and so I gave it a go. At first I was on a pill called Premarin (made for horses’ urine, if you can believed it). The results? It seemed to help with some of the symptoms, but not the others.
Then my doctor got into Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy. The hormones were manufactured, but, unlike Premarin, were identical to the ones produced in the body. This would be better, she said. She prescribed a cream that I was to rub into the inside of my wrist. But it was not a precise science. Too little cream meant poor, or no, results. Too much cream could produce a worsening of the symptoms.
Phase three? I encountered pellet therapy. Hormones encased in a pellet are inserted just beneath the skin. It’s a time release treatment that lasts around six months. The level of hormones in the pellet was determined by blood tests that revealed my hormone levels, which meant that the prescription could be adjusted as needs be. By that time, I had passed through perimenopause and was into menopause. My periods had completely stopped. By that time, my symptoms had more or less abated and I was using the therapy to help with cosmetic issues like dry skin. I didn’t really see much in the way of results, especially considering the total cost was over $400.
And so, I left hormone therapy behind.