About 4 or so years ago I noticed increasing symptoms of menopause: weight gain, bone tenderness, headaches, sleep changes, weepy eyes, bouts of anxiety, fibrocystic breasts, vaginal dryness. I went to my doctor and shared these symptoms and was put on Estrace, a very expensive $350 a tube estrogen cream (out-of-pocket cost).
I like to give things a chance to work and was on that cream for 2 1/2 years. In that time I not only had more weight gain, muscle and bone tenderness, headaches, sleep problems, weepy eyes, bouts of anxiety, fibrocystic breasts and continued vaginal dryness … but I also developed serious hot flashes and had a suspicious mammogram.
Things were getting worse? Why? Worried about my health, I began to study more and took a class given by a doctor who specializes in women’s health and menopause. This is what I learned:
- There are different types of estrogen – E1 Estrone is a weaker estrogen and is higher in pregnant and menopausal women, E2 Estradiol is an aggressive estrogen linked to breast cancer, and E3 Estriol is a protective estrogen that contributes to healthy skin and plays an anti-cancer role.
- Estrogen drops during menopause but progesterone drops even more, leading to a higher ratio of estrogen to progesterone, which equals estrogen dominance symptoms.
- A menopausal woman can be both low in estrogen and be estrogen dominant (due to the low progesterone) at the same time.
That was me. I was low in estrogen and very low in progesterone. Extrace cream is E2 estradiol and was only adding to my menopausal symptoms. I stopped the estradiol prescription cream and started on bi-est cream 1x a day (a bioidentical estrogen cream with the correct ratio of E3 estriol to E2) and natural progesterone cream 2x a day. Both are over-the-counter and I can buy a years supply at the cost of one month of the prescription estrogen. I also began a low dose of DHEA and Pregnenolone.
It’s been about 4 months and my weight is slowly dropping without effort, I feel stronger, headaches are gone, sleep is better, my eyes are clearer, the vaginal dryness is under control, the hot-flashes have all but disappeared and a follow-up mammogram was clear of problems. Isn’t that amazing? Just getting the right balance of hormones and vitamin support and things have changed for the better.
When I told my doctor (actually I saw the nurse practitioner) about the menopause program I was taking, she asked if there was a cost and when I said $700 she rolled her eyes and dismissed it. She also said it wasn’t indicated that I have blood work related to my hormone levels (so I did that on my own). This same person would have had no problem continuing that $350 prescription. UGH, where is the disconnect? Can’t medical professionals see there’s a problem with how women in menopause are being treated?
BTW – A side-benefit of beginning to get my hormones back in line is that my blood pressure readings are getting lower too. (Weeeee – doing a happy dance.) It’s all connected … estrogen, progesterone, thyroid, cortisol, oxytocin … all those hormones interact with each other.
If you’re having menopause issues and aren’t getting answers from your doctor, there are answers out there. I learned to test, not guess and get my hormones tested every few months (on my own, no doc visit). And I highly recommend Dr. Anna’s menopause class, she’s offering a free 10-day menopause masterclass right now and you can learn all about some of those mystical hormones.
And I hope you haven’t gone through hormone misdirection like I did, worsening the symptoms of menopause and costing quite a bit of out-of-pocket fees with the extra mammograms and prescription medications. If you have and that upsets you, then channel your anger into learning more and changing things. You’re in charge of you, you are not helpless, there is hope for hormones.