HRT or not HRT, that is the question…

One thing I missed off from my ‘Words what I have learned’ post was HRT. And yet, before my surgery, I knew very little about it: I knew what it stood for and that’s about it, and I didn’t really relate it to the surgical procedure I was about to undergo and the effects this surgery would have on me.

The clue really is in the name: Hormone Replacement Therapy – you replace something that is no longer there! I didn’t truly understand that I would have no sex hormones after my ovaries were removed: no oestrogen, no progesterone, no testosterone, or that this would have a physical impact on my body as well as an emotional one. I think I knew intellectually that I would undergo a ‘Surgical Menopause‘, but had not the slightest idea of the impact this would have of me.

At 48, I was already having some menopausal symptoms – the odd hot flush and night sweat, and had decided that I wanted continue to try to manage things naturally after the operation. I’ve borrowed a book from a friend who’s a couple of years further along Menopause Road than I am, called Natural Solutions to Menopause by Marilyn Glenville, which is a good read, and have been trying to manage my symptoms through diet.

Recently, though, the symptoms are becoming less tolerable, and there’s more to the menopause than I realised. I knew about the hot flushes and night sweats, of course, and I’d heard about insomnia and vaginal dryness but I  had no idea that it can include headaches and joint pain as well. I still don’t know whether the crushing fatigue that sometimes takes my legs from under me is the result of the surgery or the menopause. My concentration isn’t great either, and again, I don’t know whether it’s the surgery or the menopause – I can easily ask a question, respond to the answer and then ask the exact same question again.  Apparently a good way to lose weight is to eat really slowly, giving your stomach a chance to realise that it’s full. Maybe that’s how you should speak to a menopausal woman – give her brain a chance to process what’s been said!

With the symptoms I’ve been experiencing, and with one eye on returning to work, I decided to at least ask about options for HRT during surgical menopause. I didn’t want to take a large dose or for a long time, but I feel like I need something to mitigate the flushes in particular, which make me feel like I’m on fire – and not in a good way. Anyway, it’s almost the end of the school summer holiday and I was expecting to go back to work at the beginning of the Autumn term. I’ve had some issues with healing, however, so I went to see my GP to get the all-clear for work, and to discuss my options.

Alas, it was not to be. After examining me, my GP looked at me like I was mad when I said I assumed I was going back to work next week and could I pleased have a phased return. I still have some healing issues, and long story short – I’m signed off for another month and I can’t have HRT that acts in the bloodstream as I have a history of severe classical migraines. However, I do have oestrogen pessaries which should help me to heal inside (I had some granulation tissue on my vaginal cuff – where my cervix was – at my 6 week check, which required a silver nitrate treatment; and I’m still “raw” – eek).

So, with full HRT not an option for me at the moment, I’m going to continue to manage my symptoms through diet and have ordered some supplements. After some research online, I’m trying Vitabiotics Menopace Plus – you’ll know if they work if I stop repeating questions!

I’ll keep you posted…

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