Why I Chose HRT
Updated: Mar 29
I share my story often for two reasons: (1) I don’t want other women to feel alone when it comes to experiencing midlife and menopause symptoms (for a while there I thought I was losing my mind!)
And (2) I want women to know they don’t have to spend months or even years putting the puzzle pieces together in hopes of finding relief.
So when did the light bulb click? It was actually something my daughter said that made me realize I might be experiencing perimenopausal symptoms - which is a bit embarrassing really. After a moment of over-the-top rage for something that was so insignificant she asked if I was having a little PMS overload that month.
She was right . . . I was way moodier than normal, I was depressed, I was extremely tired, honestly I just hadn’t felt like myself in months!!
As a woman's health coach I really wanted to help my midlife clients navigate this new season without a prescription for antidepressants - common treatment for menopause symptoms. This is actually what my mom was given forty years ago -it’s obviously this topic has not advanced much with regard to treatment options - so you’d think I’d know to look for the patterns, but there I was just like so many other midlife women, clueless, lost, and feeling totally alone!
The more clients I work with the more frustrating it is to see so many women coming to me with these dreadful symptoms, only to be brushed off with comments like “it’s normal,” or “it’s part of the aging process, just power through it,” or to be given antidepressants or completely incorrect information all together.
So what were my symptoms . . . I was more tired than usual. I literally felt like I had been drugged most days. My insomnia game was strong!! I had no problem falling asleep, but staying asleep was a whole other issue. I had crazy cravings for salt, which is NOT my thing . . . I’m a sweets girl. But my cravings for carbs were off the charts - almost like pregnancy cravings again.
Not only was I really tired, I was really irritable, shouting all the time, emotional, and on the verge of tears most days.
My memory was . . . well, missing in action. I would forget things mid thought and sometimes even formatting a full sentence was a challenge. I was forgetting important details that affected the entire household, like picture day or making the electric payment before the cutoff date!!
Did I mention I was so tired!! And I had this crazy increase of headaches.
It was normal for me to workout at least 5 days a week plus a few runs tossed in for fun, but due to my muscle soreness and new issues with my joints, my workouts began to suffer. I was so sore and stiff. I felt like I was losing my strength at warp speed, dropping from my 15 pound weights to struggling with using my 8 pound dumbbells. I felt discouraged, but I was too tired to care.
And don’t get me started on the weight gain! I had gained 18 pounds in less than a year!
The symptoms for me were quite scary at times. The rage, the increased annoyance with my husband whom I love very much, the lack of desire to be intimate with him. I mean all of the sudden everything he did bothered me, even his breathing was annoying! Can you relate?
I didn't want to be angry all the time. I didn't want to be distant with my husband.
I speak to so many women who have separated from their partners and so many women who live with their partners and don't love them the same way they used to - their relationship changing as they move through the change. I can totally see how this happens. It’s so important that we keep the line of communication open with our partner so that we don’t lose sight of what’s really important.
Opening up to my husband about how uncomfortable sex was, sometimes even painful ,was a little awkward. How sex was no longer enjoyable, but also trying to get him to understand that it was totally me and not him. That was hard, but it was so important that he knew I wasn’t pulling away for any other reason.
So this hell went on for almost 18 months before I finally found a doctor that was willing to help and more importantly knew exactly what I needed!!
Here’s what I’ve found in my extensive research on this topic >>> most doctors are completely clueless on this particular stage of life. They are well educated when it comes to what to expect during puberty, fertility, pregnancy, and postnatal, but after that . .. It's like no one has read the last chapter of the book on women’s health.
After getting my blood work done I learned that I was suffering from hypothyroidism. That explained the low energy levels, the cold feet (man my feet get so cold!!), the aches and pains, and the depression.
Here’s another fun fact I’ve learned >>> Most doctors will tell you that you fall in the “normal” range, the problem is the normal levels are such a wide range that unless you are experiencing something so crazy extreme - we all fall in the normal range. So if you are being told your blood work is “normal” but you feel far from normal, I’m giving you permission to go get a second, third, and forth opinion until you get someone that listens and truly hears you!!
I was only 45 at the time and just like so many, I thought I was way too young for this!! Again, another misconception because no one ever talks about this subject!!
I’ve read about a girl that hit early menopause at 19 after receiving treatment for cancer, and a lady that didn’t stop menstruating until her early 90s!! YIKES! Can you imagine! You can start experiencing menopause symptoms as early as 35. The average age in the U.S. is 51, but perimenopause can actually start 3-10 years before you actually hit menopause.
Menopause is when you’ve gone 12 consecutive months with no periods, not sporadic periods like so many of us experience. So yes, you can be in perimenopause for quite some time!!
Besides a prescription to help my thyroid I was asked if I wanted to give HRT a try to help with all my symptoms. I know HRT is a hot button topic. Some women love it and some won't go near it. It really is a personal decision that you must make. I encourage you to do your research!
Women are often scared of HRT for the wrong reasons. We’re not designed to run around living life with a hormonal imbalance or hormone deficiencies. If your doctor told you that you had an iron deficiency you would probably take iron. If it was a vitamin D deficiency, you’d take Vitamin D.
It’s important to understand that hormonal imbalances can increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, depression and osteoporosis. The evidence is that the earlier you take HRT the better for so many reasons.
So every four months I get a testosterone pellet implanted into my bum. I personally use BioTe.
Here’s what I can tell you - the procedure is painless and the benefits are crazy insane is a good way!!
The moodiness has disappeared, I have more energy, my workouts are better, I feel stronger and my endurance has improved, my cravings are gone, my brain fog and sleep disturbances have decreased, and as much as I’d love to tell you that I’ve lost the 18 pounds I’ve gained that is not the case.
It is definitely harder to lose the midlife midsection, but I feel better and I’m focusing on that positive - one day at time. I know the weight will go in time, but it will be harder to do so . . . the best part . . . my libido is back!! Let’s just say that everything is working at optimum level and my husband is a happy man again. Yes, his breathing is still annoying at times but I guess that’s what comes with being married for so long.
I honestly feel great! I know that we will have to tweak my treatment as I continue to progress through the change. And if it weren’t for the fact that my job requires me to talk about menopause symptoms and hormone health, I wouldn't even think about my hormones because they are no longer an issue.
There are side effects that come with just about every treatment option, again do your homework. Ask the hard questions, talk to multiple people, share experiences. The more we open that dialogue the better it is for all women.
It’s totally inexcusable that women are suffering trying to live through this without being informed of the treatment options out there.
For me and my family HRT was the right choice combined with a healthy lifestyle, but it’s important to do what’s best for YOU. Every woman's journey through this new season is going to be as unique as they are.
Do your research, talk to your female family members, your BFF, your partner, and even your kiddos. YES! Let them know what’s going on - I mean you don’t have to give them the intimate details, but if we want to stop putting shame behind the M word then we have to make it an open, honest discussion. I want my daughters to be informed about all things related to their health, that includes puberty, pregnancy, menopause, and treatment options, but I also want my son to know because he’ll have a wife someday that will need him to be kind and supportive when she begins to experience these midlife changes herself.
For more on the topic of hormones, menopause symptoms, libido, vaginal atrophy, and all things related to midlife >> join the discussion at Opening the Dialogue on Women’s Health and Wellness Facebook page!
And please . . . if you have any questions about treatment options, what bloodwork you need, questions to ask you doctor, or lifestyle changes that are going to help minimize those perimenopause symptoms, please BOOK A FREE DISCOVERY CALL!!