- Women's Health
HRT - is it right for me?
Is HRT right for me?
Hormone Replacement Treatment - What I thought about it
I remember my Mum saying she had been put on HRT, not too sure she had much of a choice on the matter, she was in good health and had no history of breast cancer in her female side, and no significant other health issues to consider so she was not at any risk, I don't think she gave it very much thought, the Doctor said she should, and she trusted her family Doctor, so she went on hormone replacement paches.
I remember seeing her about a month after she had gone on the patches as they were back in the 90's. She looked fantastic, it had taken 10 years off her, and she had more energy and seemed more herself again.
But, would I be the same, not necessarily, I did not have the same sort of heavy periods my Mum had, had. I never had a problem with anything like that, never bothered me at all, so I didn't think that the menopause would be a problem, I keep fit and healthy, kept my weight steady, eat all the right things and never processed or take away. I was sure I would be okay.
I then starting feeling awful, my skin was dry and itchy, I was tired all of the time, if I sat down I fell asleep, I starting having night sweats, where I would wake up in the night drenched in sweat, having to get up so dry off. Headaches and my periods although there were not really there. I felt very down and had no energy at all, everything I enjoyed doing I stopped doing because I was too tired. My tummy was bloated most of the time and my weight was up and down. This lasted for about 3 years steadily getting worse each month.
I tried homophone cream, which did not really work (for me anyway) I got some vitamins that were meant to help, not really sure what they did but they probably did not hurt anyway.
I did not want to try HRT, I wanted to do it the natural way, the way millions of women have done for centuries. But, I had to go to work, carry on with my modern life and go through this stage of life that is natural but I am not sure our bodies have caught up with our modern lifestyles.
If you do want to do it the natural way, it can cost a futune too, by the time you have bought all the herbal remidies that are meant to help, your purse will be very light indeed!
How it works - very simply put
I have researched and read everything I can about this and my understanding is this
Hormone Replacement Therapy is widely used to treat menopause symptoms thought out the western world, namely hot flushes, low mood, night sweats, and all the other lovely symptoms associated with this time in a woman's life.
By the use of tables, patches or implant, it replaces the hormones that are reducing in the body and causing these problems. The main hormone it replaces is oestrogen, regulating this hormone to regular levels of a younger woman.
There are different types of this HRT too.
- Oestrogen only
- Combination, which is a combination of Oestrogen plus progestogen.
Health Risks and Benefits
There is a slight increase of risk of stroke and of cause there is an increased risk of breast cancer especially if it runs in the female side of your family,
Helpful against menopause symptoms, which is what it is for, but it is also helpful in reducing osteoporosis and in some cases heart disease.
The Lighter side
The literature of menopause is the saddest, the most awful, and the most medical of all genres. You're sleepless, you're anxious, you're fat, you're depressed - and the advice is always the same: take more walks, eat some kale, and drink lots of water. It didn't help.
Sandra Tsing Loh
Q: What's the quickest way for a man to end up sleeping on the couch?
A: Forgetting to erase his internet history after reading menopause jokes!
My own experience
So I had tried what seemed to be everything to help me to feel better. I decided to try HRT, I have to admit at being quite afraid of the prospect. I took two tables felt awful, starting crying and never took anymore....Not a good start.
I then went back to hormone cream and vitamins, nothing was working, I left it over a year and decided to try again, this time I am sure I was in a better frame of mind for having a go, I had looked into it more and felt more ready. I felt so bad, nothing could really be worse.
This time was different, I just felt normal, nothing really changed right away, but my joints didn't hurt anymore, I felt I had more energy and felt a little more like myself
I think it is best to start on a normal day, when you are in your normal routine, so you carry on and try to put out of your mind you have taken it, then, if you are like me, you are not looking for any differences in your body or mind. I think the key is to just forget you have started taking them. I think I was a bit too worked up about taking it and changes that scared me.
My skin improved slightly in the first week, and my joints were not hurting me anymore. The day I took them I have very sore breast pain, but that soon went too, so I relaxed about taking them which I am sure helped me this time.
About two weeks in I had an eczema outbreak which the Doctor told me had nothing to do with taking the HRT, although I think it did, not in a bad way, but this whole eczema thing started only a few years ago, and I have always thought it hormone related, I may be completely wrong, but I still think it is. This calmed down and I went back to normal. On the whole I seem to be fine on this therapy, good even so far. I do feel I can think clearly again, which is helpful and I am less forgetful too.
I have read that it would not help with clear thinking and forgetfulness, but it has for me.
what would you choose
1) Keep cool
Hot flushes and night sweats are the most common symptoms of the menopause.
To ease hot flushes and night sweats:
- wear lighter clothing
- keep your bedroom cool at night
- do more exercise
- try to reduce your stress levels
- avoid potential "hot flush" triggers, such as spicy food, caffeine, smoking and alcohol
2) Try to relax
Hormonal changes brought about by the menopause can leave you feeling down, anxious irritable, mood swings, tiredness and lack of energy.
Try the following to help improve your mood:
- getting plenty of rest
- regular exercise
- relaxation exercises, such as yoga
3) Sleep well
Restful sleep will help you cope with menopausal symptoms.
- avoiding exercise within two hours of bedtime
- going to bed at the same time every night
- wearing lighter clothing and keeping your room cool
4) Get regular exercise
The benefits of exercise in preventing bone loss and fractures are well known. It is thought that the best kind of activities are aerobic, sustained and regular. Brisk walking about three times a week is a cheap, easy and great way to start exercising.
5) Eat Well
Eat a healthy, well balanced diet, cutting out processed food completely. Keep an eye on too much sugar and fat in your diet. Natural sugars are best if you have a sweet tooth, honey is a good substitute.
6) Stop smoking
Women who smoke have an earlier menopause than non-smokers, have worse flushes and often don't respond as well to tablet forms of HRT. It’s never too late to stop smoking.
I think that you have to really want to have a go, and not try too soon either. I am sure the first time I tried I was not really ready for them, so don’t give up, if they don’t work for you then try again.
There is the natural option and I still think this is possibly the best option as it is how we are meant to be, but, taking HRT it has helped me in feeling myself again and no harm has been done.
I would also try and start when you are in your normal routine and not off on holiday or planning a party. Just an average month with no added stress to worry about.
Relax with yoga
Relax with yoga
Yoga is great for the menopause; it keeps you supple and can also help you to relax.
Find a good class if you can, and try it out, hatha yoga class, would be the best.
Hatha yoga practices are designed to align and calm your body, mind and spirit and prepare for mediation.
Yoga can be done by anyone, regardless of how fit they are or are not, everyone works to their own pace and ability there is no hard stretching or difficult poses. Just nice relaxing moves which will energize and relax the muscles in your body.
The breathing techniques will help will hot flushes, anxiety and calm the body and mind.
It is easy to do at home or on holiday, you don't need anything special to practice yoga, just a willingness to do it, and some time and space.
- Menopause Matters, menopausal symptoms, remedies, advice
Menopause and treatment options. An independent, clinician-led site aiming to provide accurate information about the menopause.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) - NHS Choices
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment used to relieve symptoms of the menopause. It replaces female hormones that are at a lower level as you approach the menopause.
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