Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you have any medical concerns do consult your GP.

To HRT or not??

(29 Posts)
RafflesWay Sat 14-Jul-12 21:35:04

Hi everyone, would REALLY appreciate honest feedback please? Started peri in 2005 and things have got worse and worse over the years. I was diagnosed with under active thyroid 2 years ago so have to work really hard to keep weight in check and don't want to risk more weight gain as finally losing a little although not enormous - size 14 - but could be very quickly if I didn't follow a very strict diet and exercise gently daily. Hot flushes are now horrendous and extremely debilitating. Have only had 2 periods in 2 years now - 12 months between each! Didn't want to take hrt initially and GP not in favour either though not really sure why. I am 56 and have tried black cohosh, evening primrose oil capsules etc but they don't help at all. I have zero libido and now have started with itchy skin although I moisturise religiously so not really dry. Should I bite the bullet and finally ask for HRT or perservere?? Please has anyone had similar dilemna?

FixMyTeeth Sat 14-Jul-12 23:03:50

All I can say is that you should give it a go. It worked for me great and have been on it for 4 years. Was flushing every hour and sleep pattern went upside down.

I saw a gynae privately and discussed every lifestyle and dietary option first before taking the plunge.

I know I wil have to come off it sometime, but according to him the latest evidence is showing that it is not perhaps as risky as was thought a few years back.

Have a look at www,menopausematters.co.uk and look at the "scales" diagram- for women under 60 it has more benefits than risk.

I'm not overweight at all- a size 10- but I do tend to put on a few pounds more easily and have to work harder to shift them but in all honestly it's because I have a desk job and just don't move as much as I used to running around after the kids!

Viperidae Sat 14-Jul-12 23:07:02

Doesn't HRT just postpone things though? Won't you just have to go through it all when you come off it? If that is the case it might be worth persevering but I really don't know.

FixMyTeeth Sun 15-Jul-12 10:03:32

Some people , yes, others no.
It all depends.
HRT doesn't give you as much hormone as you'd normally have anyway-and when you come off it you have to do it very gradually over 3- 6 months. Some women find they are fine.

Other point is- some women prefer better quality of life for a few years maybe until they retire, kids left home, elderly parents not around to care for etc etc.

There's also some research which shows that the medical benefits- less bowel cancer, higher bone densitty- last for a while once you have stopped it.

RafflesWay Mon 16-Jul-12 22:56:26

Many thanks everyone! Think from what you are saying I will persevere!

thenightsky Mon 16-Jul-12 23:02:11

I've been talking it about 18 months. It's been great, but lately I've been getting dry itchy skin and hot flushes back again.

Has anyone ever increased their dose at they have gone along?

Bellaciao Tue 17-Jul-12 21:45:16

RafflesWay - I would say absolutely go for it! You are 56 so really the sooner the better. As far as I remember the research - although flawed - showed the risks of taking HRT, only to increase (slightly) past 60 and for those who started post-meno post 60 - can't remember precisely.
If you are less than a year since your last period you may be put on a cyclical HRt which will give you regular periods but if it's nearly a year you may be able to go onto continuous combined HRT (oestrogen and progesterone) which means you won't bleed ( may have some initially until settled down).
Personally I would go for transdermal (ie patches or gel) which is thought to be sfaer long term. Depends on how you were during periods - eg if you had bad pms during the second half of your cycle - it might be better to go for natural (bio-identcial) progesterone such as utrogestan. Otherwise maybe a combined patch.

The GP might try to fob you off with the cheapest so have a look at what's available - all listed on the Menopause matters website here:
www.menopausematters.co.uk/treatment.php

I think it may interact with thyroid medication so possibly you would need a higher dose but your gynae should be able to advise here.

Btw I am 59 and have been on HRT since just under age 53, apart from 3 months when I stopped age 58. I choose to have a cylce ( 2 monthly) because I don't want to be on continuous progesterone - but many women are happy with this.

The nightsky - depends how old you are and what stage in meno, whether you increase the dose. The standard anyway is usually to prescribe the minimum dose needed to eliminate the main obvious symptoms - which for most women are the flushes and sweats so if these have come back there is a good case to increase - depends on what else you are taking though too? What HRT are you on at present?

thenightsky Tue 17-Jul-12 22:00:17

Prempak-C
0.625mg

I don't know if that is a low or high dose really

ameliagrey Wed 18-Jul-12 08:26:46

nightsky- if you go to www.menopausematers.com and look under HRTand the types of product, all preparations are listed as low/medium/ high dose.

Re. types of progesterone.

My dr believes it is progesterone which causes breast cancer. This is shown by the fact that women who take only oestrogen have practically no increase in breast cancer. He also acknowledges that most GPs are not up to date with the research, and dish out combined pills routinely.
The best dose is a transdermal route of oestrogen and progesterone once every 2 or 3 months to give a bleed.

Years ago, women were just given oestrogen. It was found this caused- or raised this risk- of endometrial cancer. My dr believes that the clock should be turned back , as the risks from adding progestins increase breast cancer risk more than leaving it out increase endometrial cancer- which is more esily treated and cured.

I asked him why GPs continue to give women combined hormones when this evidence is there- his response is that GPs are not, on the whole, up to date with meno treatment and research.

It's likely that non-specialists will not offer you this- but if you are well informed you can ask to try this.

Bellaciao Wed 18-Jul-12 12:14:09

Hi nightsky - it's medium dose. There is a higher one.
How old are you?
I have no experience of prempak as this is no bio-identical - it's the one made from equine oestrogens.
It may be that another HRT type would suit you better?
Depends how far post meno you are too as I understand about 2 years post meno the oestrogen levels really drop to their lowest level so symptoms could start to show at this point.

thenightsky Wed 18-Jul-12 12:28:21

Bellaciao I am 53 and been taking it about 2 years I reckon, so the theory about oestrogen levels dropping post-two years would make sense.

This is a VERY interesting and informative thread.

Bellaciao Wed 18-Jul-12 12:59:24

The info re falling oestrogen (as estradiol) came from the International Menopause Society - press release re a workshop clarifiyng the Stages of Resproductive Ageing.
Here's the link - it's quite academic!
www.imsociety.org/downloads/email_downloads/2012_02_16_1773491/straw10.pdf
Diagram on page 3 shows this graphically
Women vary a great deal in how much oestrogen (as estradiol) they finally get into their bloodstream from a given dose of HRT so maybe you do need some more. Some docs may be more reluctant to increase the dose with tabs but you are still young so defo worth a try if that product suits you.

ameliagrey Wed 18-Jul-12 13:13:41

The other point about amount of oestrogen is- the oral route is not the best- you need to take a higher dosage because the liver does not metabolise it efficiently. Changing to patches or gel may suit you better as it's absorbed more effectively and has a lower rate of side effects with stroke , heart disease and clots.

thenightsky Wed 18-Jul-12 13:59:47

I originally asked for patches, but was told I wasn't a suitable candidate for them as I go running 3 or 4 times a week so would just sweat them off too easily.

Bellaciao Wed 18-Jul-12 14:55:31

Hmmm... sounds like you might have been fobbed off there. I mean - they could have let you try for yourself. I don't run but I do a fitness class once a week and nothing's ever happened to my patches from doing that. As long as they are stuck properly according to instructions in a place where clothing doesn't rub it off they should be OK. Having said that I use Estradot which are v small and tough but I use separate progesterone. A few women do have sticking/absorption issues with transdermal methods.
Might have something to do with the fact that Prempak are the cheapest - not that I'm cynical or anything!

ameliagrey Wed 18-Jul-12 16:04:20

Ditto above comments- that's why gel is not often prescribed- cost factor yet in France it is the most popular/routine preparation.

ameliagrey Wed 18-Jul-12 16:06:19

Also- don't want to alarm you Nightsky- but Premarin and I assume prempak are made from horses urine- conjugated estrogen. This was the type of oestrogen that was linked to side effects in the WHI studies- I wouldn't ever touch it if I was ever offered it.

thenightsky Wed 18-Jul-12 16:57:49

Side effects you say? Interesting. One side-effect that is really annoying the hell out of me is massively swollen ankles. By bedtime my toes look like they are individual little sumo wrestlers! I've always been skinny and boney of foot all my life.

ameliagrey Wed 18-Jul-12 17:13:33

I was thinking of the more serious side effects- cancer, strokes, heart diseasesad

ameliagrey Wed 18-Jul-12 17:16:07
gillypanda Wed 22-Aug-12 09:23:51

I'm so glad I just found this discussion!

I'm seeing my doctor again tomorrow about whether to start HRT or carry on suffering.

I'm 51, haven't had a period since I was 30 (no reason was ever found, just "one of those things") and have been menopausal for just over a year. The hot flushes are making my life hell, I feel like my head is being boiled from the inside out, about 15 times a day. I don't sleep properly, I'm sad and paranoid about all sorts of things. My weight has gone up such a lot and I just can't shift it, despite swimming a mile a day and eating less calories than are recommended.

My doc has just done blood tests for thyroid, liver function etc and I get those results tomorrow. I'm assuming they're all ok, they were last time he did them, and I'm just a menopausal mess! I am very anti taking drugs and prefer natural remedies, but they've stopped helping too. I was talking to a lady at the gym about HRT patches, and she said they mainly bypass the risk of breast cancers which I associated with HRT, according to her doctors.

I'm obviously going to chat to the doctor tomorrow, but has anyone here used patches and found they make a big difference to their wellbeing?

Bellaciao Wed 22-Aug-12 17:24:32

Yes I'm a long term patch user and fan! Don't let them fob you off at the docs! The difference to wellbeing (as well as long term health) is imeasurable. (not sure of sp). I can function like a normal human being.

I think this has been discussed earlier in the thread.

If you use bio-identical HRT as I do, it is not taking drugs - it is replacing hormones which become deficient in menopasual women ( like diabetics taking insulin and taking thyroxine for thyroid problems).

So yes - if you want to be completely natural then you would need to have an estrogen only patch (or gel) - I recommend Estradot as they are small and stick well, and you will also need a separate progesterone to prevent the womb lining thickening too much. I use Utrogestan - the only bio-identical progesterone licensed for womb protection on the NHS.

Any of the combi patches (Evorel or Femseven) contain an artificial progestin.

All the different types for post-meno are listed here:

www.menopausematters.co.uk/postmeno.php

I also belong to a friendly menopause forum where you can ask about lots of HRT types and everyone is willing to help:

menopausesupport.proboards.com/index.cgi

Hope this helps and good luck with the doc.

No-one needs to suffer as a result of menopause!!!

gillypanda Wed 22-Aug-12 18:22:48

Thank you so much for your reply, Bellaciao.

I'm going to write all this down for tomorrow, my GP is lovely and will listen to what I have to say before advising.

And then I'm off to the dentist as I've got a sore tooth, and I'm terrified of dentists and my menopausal paranoia is making everything feel 10 times worse...sad

MissBoPeep Wed 22-Aug-12 18:50:18

Hi
Sorry but the lady at the gym is incorrect.

The advantages of topical HRT- patches or gel- is that it bypasses the liver. This means there may be fewer side effects on the digestive system, amd possibly less clotting resulting in strokes There is no evidence at all it reduces breast cancer risk.

There are several types of estrogen used in HRT- Premarin uses horses' urine. Other HRTcontains other forms. it's all estrogen though- you can call it " bio identical" meaning it has the same molecular structure as found naturally, but it's still made in the lab at the end of the day!

If you have no had a period for 21 years what reason was given?

You MUST ask for a scan of your bone density as it may be that your bones have thinned from lack of hormones.

The risks from HRT seem to be linked more to the progestins than estrogen- women who take just estrogen HRT have no higher risk of breast cancer , and sometimes less. But you can only do this is you have no uterus.

You can reduce the amount of progestins you take by having a 3-month cycle on HRT not a monthly one but not many GPs go down this route- it's more often advocated by specialist gynaes who know all the facts.

gillypanda Wed 22-Aug-12 19:06:04

That's interesting, MissBP. The lady at the gym was told this by a private gynaecologist and endocrinologist whom she consulted to get information.

I've had masses of investigations over the years about the lack of periods, none have ever given a reason. I do have a bone density scan every 2 years as I am considered to be pre-osteoperosis. My grandmother had it, so I have been tested for the past 6 years, since I moved here and got a new GP. I've been taking a calcium and Vitamin D supplement, but my bones have thinned more in the last 2 years.

I'll chat all this through with the doctor in the morning, but it's very good to get other women's opinions too

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now