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Handling The Menopause Without HRT

(56 Posts)
Eliottsmam Sat 09-May-15 12:08:37

Many women don't want to take hrt, others can't take it for a whole variety of reasons.

It would be nice to hear positive stories about what helped you with any menopause issue.

For example, I found a fan by the bed helps me sleep all night. So sometimes there is a simple solution to a problem, it's just a case of finding it.

Simple or major changes to your routine, diet, lifestyle, or whatever else, I'm sure there are many women who'd benefit from widening their options. smile

MyCatIsAGit Sat 09-May-15 13:25:29

I'm on HRT because I couldn't cope without it...it's fab in my case

But other things that seem to help
- are regular exercise
- sleeping under a wool duvet, I still get the odd night sweat but this means I'm not waking up freezing cold at 3am, somehow it seems to breathe and keep me warm so I stay asleep
- promensil, seems to have reduced night sweats
- parting attention to what I eat
- doing something relaxing
- getting enough sleep, so acknowledging when knackered and letting myself go to bed early

Silvercatowner Sun 10-May-15 15:05:52

I tried everything and, as far as I could tell, nothing worked - my symptoms were quite extreme, hot flushes every 15 minutes during the day and every half an hour during the night. I lecture and do public speaking and it was becoming impossible to carry on. HRT saved my sanity - I actually take other medication to enable me to take HRT.

butagoz Mon 11-May-15 11:49:14

Hi!
I tried bioidentical progesterone in Marion Gluck clinic, it really helped when my periods started getting heavier to the point that I needed to take Tranexamic acid. But soon after I found a fantastic Ayurvedic doctor and stopped taking progesterone. Now taking only herbs recommended by her and feeling normal again. Would really recommend it!

Charliebean Mon 11-May-15 18:03:18

butagoz would you mind telling us how you found your Ayurvedic doctor. I have thought about that route but haven't got a clue how to find a good one. Thank you

Buttercup222 Fri 22-May-15 08:40:52

Hi Eliottsmam I am new to MN and have come on to see if anyone else was managing menopause naturally. I had a hysterectomy 2 months ago, everything out, for medical reasons which were fully supported by my consultant who is also an oncologist. I was advised by him to see how things go with the menopause and come back to him if I had any unmanageable symptoms. I went into the whole thing well prepared(I thought!) I am 46, average weight, pretty fit in terms of weight bearing exercise and I eat a good diet. I'm also a naturally positive person. Since my hysterectomy I have had regular warm flushes, some night sweats and a bit of trouble sleeping. I would say my moods have steadied out. I know it is a vastly different experience for everyone but I have found it all okay. My Mum sailed through menopause and I do think there is a familial link. I take Menopace night, and I have soya every day. I've taken up Pilates and once I was strong enough , went back (gently) to my exercise regime. I consider myself very very lucky to have come off fairly lightly, physically. I know it's not the same for everyone, but the horrendous symptoms also aren't the same for everyone. I have worried about bone density and heart health and my skin and hair and libido, but I have raised all of this with my consultant and he assures me it is all fine. He's the expert in my eyes and so far everything he has said has been right. I have the odd 'oh my god what have I done' moment, and I yearn for my youth, and in darker moments I see myself now only ageing and growing old. But ... I have no more pain, no more periods, no more contraception worries and I have tons of energy. This works for me, I'm not saying it works for everyone. I'm also aware that it's fairly early days, but my symptoms don't seem to be increasing, more decreasing, and I have had them since I had the op, so my menopause kicked in within 24 hours. I would be interested in hearing from anyone with a similar experience. I've been on a couple of menopause sites and they basically swing one way or the other on natural approach, which freaked me out a bit so I stay off them!

pinkfrocks Fri 22-May-15 08:53:03

Not going to offer advice as your oncologist knows best but just for clarity- does everything out mean ovaries too? And was this for cancer ( sorry to ask) meaning that HRT is out of the question?

Buttercup222 Fri 22-May-15 09:40:25

Hello Pinkfrocks - everything meant ovary ( I had one removed previously) uterus, Fallopian tubes and cervix. I had Adenomyosis and endometriosis and a long and eye wateringly boring history of gynae problems that I was happy to say goodbye to. It's scary for me because I've read the threads and all the online info, and I've agonised about HRT, but I have chosen to listen to my surgeon who is an oncologist, that this is the right path for me. HRT ( just oestrogen as I don't need the progesterone having had my uterus removed)would potentially aggravate the endo. I'm a decent weight, apparently having a layer of fat stores oestrogen naturally as well, (every cloud...) and I take supplements and do exercise to protect my bone density. If I feel my health is compromised in any way I would revisit all of this, but for the moment I feel good. I'm not really a 'natural' type of person, but I've tried every drug going to try and sort out my problems prior to surgery, and had no success, and this seems to be working for my body. However everyone is different, I just wanted to see if anyone else was going through the same 'cos it's nice to feel you are not alone in this!

Eliottsmam Fri 22-May-15 11:39:09

Thanks for sharing what works for you, ladies. There's a few things I've never heard of before, and I'm sure I'm not alone.

Hi, Buttercup your personal story is both positive and inspirational, and I know it's sure to strike a cord with others in a similar position.

I, like others, have become frustrated with some menopause sites. Some sites fleetingly discuss natural solutions, but casually dismiss them. It also seems common for women to feel pressured into taking hrt because of the 'bones and heart' argument, even when they aren't having any actual problems. Then there are the women who have spent years trying and failing to find 'the right hrt' to suit them, and instead of being offered advice on other ways to cope are urged to try another brand!

I'm not against hrt, if it's needed, but there are many other ways to deal with this inevitable stage of life.

I have days where I feel old, and inevitably on those days I'll feel every ache and pain and attribute it to the menopause. Then I'll think of my friend who they've been trying unsuccessfully to wean off hrt for the last 5 years (who also has those aches and pains) and be grateful I'm not in her position.

I'm also relieved to be over the years of painful periods, gynae problems, infertlity treatments, etc. etc.

I like your approach. You have 'taken the bull by the horns' and looked at the whole picture, in a positive light.

pinkfrocks Fri 22-May-15 11:49:40

Not sure what evidence there is that women are pressurised into taking HRT for their bones and heart. There is substantial scientific evidence that an early menopause (before 45 and some specialists raise that to 47) does, in some women, make osteoporosis and heart disease a higher risk.

pinkfrocks Fri 22-May-15 12:26:16

Just to add-the correct approach for some women is to have a bone density scan - DEXA scan- to see what their bones are like in their 40s, and to take into account their genetic / family history of heart disease and osteoporosis.
It should really be an informed choice whether to use HRT, based on each woman's medical history and risk factors.

And for every woman who has had to try a certain number of types of HRT there are equally just as many who get it right first time (include myself here), but it's rare they will come to a forum to say that- too busy getting on with life. Forums give a skewed picture because you tend to get posts about people not coping, rather than feeling good.

Also, the BMS and the IMS have said there is no need to stop HRT at any age, so weaning yourself off it is no longer an issue unless there are health reasons to do so.

Eliottsmam Fri 22-May-15 13:42:44

It seems that the advice of the BMS and IMS depends largely on where you look. There are still many quotes about 'the lowest dose for the shortest time' etc.

Forums do often give a skewed picture, because they are often governed by the more outspoken members. They can also be easily manipulated. Many forums have 'professional posters' who attempt to sway the undecided down a certain route, or who are there to drive traffic to a particular site. That's 'the world of internet marketing' for you!

This thread was started to allow women to share alternatives to handle various menopause symptoms - as there are countless threads detailing types of hrt.

I'd have thought that one thread without a sales pitch for hrt isn't too much to ask for.

pinkfrocks Fri 22-May-15 14:39:38

I'm not sure about the tone of that previous post. It seems to be going down a personal route in response to a pretty straight forward, in my view, balanced comment about how HRT or other treatments should be based on a personal medical history.

I have no idea what a 'professional poster' is because no one posting on MN earns money from it and to imply they are in some way driving traffic to various sites is a really odd thing to say.

I think Eliott you are assuming some posts here are aimed at you- they aren't. I gave what I think is a sensible and balanced reply to the issue of whether HRT is necessary for bones and hearts. If you choose not to use HRT then that is fine- I couldn't give a toss TBH what you do- but it's still relevant on a public forum to point out the facts which are that 1:3 women over the age of 50 has osteoporosis, which kills more women in old age than breast cancer, and heart disease it still the No 1 cause of death.
Lifestyle measures may be enough for some women to protect them, but not all.
I also think it's a bit off to try to prevent people from commenting on threads just because they offer some advice on one aspect of it.

Buttercup222 Fri 22-May-15 15:03:53

Well that didn't take long for this to deteriorate! I appreciate your comments. Good luck with it all, the natural approach has worked for me - I do find I have to be quite firm with people about the fact that I am happy with it! It's not like I am trying to treat cancer with peppermint tea...the menopause is a natural occurrence in our lives and I was very happy to be offered an alternative to synthetic hormones. But that is just me and everyone is different. Anyway I think my one foray onto Mums net might be my last. Lovely to 'chat' though.

Eliottsmam Fri 22-May-15 15:12:02

I don't think posts are aimed at me. I don't try to prevent people commenting. As usual the original subject is being diverted to a fear factor hrt promo, which in turn often prevents people sharing their comments.

I won't be swimming in treacle again, life's too short.

Eliottsmam Fri 22-May-15 15:16:53

Good luck, Buttercup222 I'm sure your positivity will inspire many others.

pinkfrocks Fri 22-May-15 17:26:19

Buttercup I totally respect your choice. You are doing what suits you and that is the right choice for you.

HRT is not the answer for all women, but I am a bit evangelistic - not about HRT surprisingly- but about preventing osteoporosis.

I fully support everyone's choice but if, by just posting a few facts here about the risks of brittle bones - especially for women who have an early menopause- it makes women ask for a scan, or be aware they have increased risks, then I'm happy.
I'm not 'promoting' HRT (why on earth would I?).

HRT now is not 'synthetic' by the way- it's bioidentical in the main.

PurpleAlert Mon 25-May-15 14:49:11

I have managed mine naturally. Periods stopped two years ago after about 3 years in peri menopause. I asked the doctor about HRT and he told me to look on a website for more info about it. Said he would give it to me but if I could deal with it myself then try that first. My mum never took HRT and there is a slight history of cancer. Our family so I decided to try without it.

I started taking a number of supplements. One was soya flavins and they made a very big difference. When I went on holiday I forgot to take them with me and the hot flushes came back with avengeance! Also took sage leaf tablets at the beginning. I used to get a bit ragey but less so now.

Now I still take the soya, magnesium ( which I find helps with the sleep) and calcium to protect my bones ( as I am on the slightly younger side- 50- although the doctor said it was within normal limits) and glucosamine which seems to help with the aches joints.

I would say I get about two hot flushes a week and occasionally get series of ectopic heart beats. I also have had some bloating on and off which I find artichoke supplements really really help.

Sooo pleased not to have periods any more! Mine were horrid!

Bellaciao Wed 27-May-15 20:07:46

You are one of the lucky ones PurpleAlert in that you are down to two flushes per week and you are well post-menopause. Two years following the last period are when women's oestrogen levels fall to their lowest level and for some women this is when their symptoms worsen or they experience them for the first time. Some women also experience flushes and sweats, as well as other symptoms for 14 years!!

For these women unfortunately herbal remedies do not work and HRT is the only remedy!

You may find that even though you don't have many other symptoms, conditions from long-term oestrogen deficiency such as vaginal atrophy and bladder issues may develop - and vaginal oestrogen (pessaries or cream) is the only way to alleviate this.

You might also want to check your bone density especially if you have osteoporosis in the family as HRT can help prevent the worst of this in old age.

There is cancer in my family too - but it depends on what and how close, to consider that you might be at (very small) risk from using HRT. The risk data are controversial anyway. Other things like alcohol, smoking, lack of exercise, and being overweight - all carry cancer risk - some more so than HRT.

Great to get periods over with! However I am one of those women who choose still to have periods (a withdrawal bleed) in my 60's so that I can continue to take oestrogen (for its health benefits) with minimal progesterone. It is a right pain having them though - although the bleeds are fairly light.

LineRunner Thu 28-May-15 07:39:35

My GP will not prescribe HRT as I have had a DVT and pulmonary embolism, so accounts like Purple's are really helpful.

Eliottsmam Thu 28-May-15 08:42:31

Thanks, PurpleAlert for your positive and informative post, and for sharing a variety of alternative solutions.

LineRunner your post says it all, and thanks for writing it. It's the very reason this thread was started.

pinkfrocks Thu 28-May-15 08:59:54

If some posters had reasons (medical) to avoid HRT- that clearly makes a difference and would be helpful if posters said so at the start.

It's important however to look at all the latest research and some GPs are not up to date. If someone is suffering from severe meno symptoms then it is unlikely that over the counter herbs etc will work; the scientific research hasn't shown any consistently good results. some products like black cohosh have been linked to breast cancer and liver problems, and some drs won't advise soya and isoflavines to women who have had breast cancer because they may slightly increase oestrogen levels.

I think it's probably fair to say that no woman sets out wanting to use HRT- everyone wants to do the menopause naturally. But it's quality of life. Everything has a risk- statistically you have a greater lifetime risk of being killed in a road traffic accident on the motorway than dying from HRT. Many women- like my mum- have had meno symptoms for over 20 years ( from 50+ - 80) but were refused HRT at 60+ for leaving it too late to start.

The thing with complementary treatment is that it doesn't always work for everyone- if it did, then it would be used by everyone who had symptoms.

This study HRT study from Denmark is one of the biggest and most recent and this is its conclusion:

Conclusions
This is the first randomised trial to study healthy women treated early in postmenopause with 17-β-estradiol and norethisterone acetate, and the only study with a 10 year randomised intervention. Additionally the women were followed for a further six years after discontinuation of randomised treatment. Our findings suggest that initiation of hormone replacement therapy in women early after menopause significantly reduces the risk of the combined endpoint of mortality, myocardial infarction, or heart failure. Importantly, early initiation and prolonged hormone replacement therapy did not result in an increased risk of breast cancer or stroke.

pinkfrocks Thu 28-May-15 09:58:13

This [http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancers-in-general/treatment/complementary-alternative/therapies/black-cohosh Black cohosh cancer Research UK]][is one example of where the jury is out on one complementary treatment- black cohosh.

You will see that it's a minefield.

Some studies suggest it is not safe for women re. breast cancer, others say it's okay, others say it does work, others say it doesn't.

It's fine to choose other treatments apart from HRT but don't assume that 'natural' = safe; do your own research just as you would for prescribed treatments.

And if you do have special circumstances- blood clots- it's worth asking your GP for a referral to a consultant who specialises in meno because they are far more knowledgeable. There are for example women using HRT who have had breast cancer, and same for blood clots- it depends on whether it was recent, what your overall health is like (smoker, overweight and high BMI etc would contribute to added overall risks of cancer and CVD) so a consultant's advice is always worth having.

Bellaciao Fri 29-May-15 12:01:53

My heart goes out to anyone who is suffering menopausal symptoms and who has a medical reason why they cannot take HRT, and if I was in this position I would be ransacking the medical and scientific literature for proven ways to cope and would welcome any and every suggestion.

There is a world of difference between these women, and those who choose not to take HRT.

It's not a competition (those who choose to do it naturally are not superior to those who take HRT, nor vice-versa) and I respect any woman's choice. This should be an informed choice and not based on misinformation or outdated evidence/recommendations, which is what pinkfrocks is trying to highlight.

Eliottsmam Fri 29-May-15 12:26:07

The aim of this thread was to allow women to share what worked for them, which might help others to explore their options.

Any option should be explored with caution, but women have mentioned things that other women may never have heard of before, i.e. a woolen quilt to stay cool at night, calcium, and exercising to strengthen the bones and overall health.

The link about black cohosh might be interesting to some, as might this link from the same site: www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/hormones-and-cancer/hrt-and-cancer

Negativity about the menopause is common, and it turns a natural stage of life into a dreaded event.

Women who can’t or won’t take hrt are entitled to have their decision respected. Their decision shouldn’t be undermined. They shouldn’t have to preface their comment with the reason why they aren’t taking it.

The positive comments on this thread are inspiring. The negativity in comments is life sapping.

I wouldn’t rely on Doctor Google, or the typical forum member Doctor Kilpatience, for advice.

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