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No, It's a Hot Flash!

IS IT HOT IN HERE OR IS IT ME?? I guess that's a pretty common phrase now. I know I've said it a lot over the last four years. You're just standing there and all of the sudden you start dripping sweat, fanning yourself, running outside to the cool air. You're having a HOT FLASH!!! Sometimes now instead of trying to cover it, I just announce it. I'M HAVING A HOT FLASH! It's still amusing to see people's reactions. From men you either get a smile or a bewildered stare. The women my age usually say, "Aren't you on hormones?"

So many books have been written on menopause. And so many books lately on hormone therapy. So I guess I'll just start my story around four years ago when my periods stopped and I was officially in menopause. I am 58 now and have spent the last four years trying to figure out what to do. Hopefully when my daughter gets to this age they will have figured it all out. She will be so lucky because right now it is still pretty much all guesswork.

Four years ago when the hot flashes started I did some saliva testing and tried some bioidentical hormones (all over the news now) for awhile, but quit because I just didn't know if it was safe. My mother died of breast cancer and I wasn't sure if I should be on any estrogen, even bioidentical. But the symptoms just got worse ... hot flashes, tired, itching etc. I take all kinds of supplements which I believe have helped some of the symptoms, especially the hot flashes, but the worst symptoms, absolutely NO SEX DRIVE and vaginal dryness just stayed there. And those symptoms are not exactly conducive to having a good sex life. I knew I had to do something! So I kept on reading.

I got Dr. Lee's book and asked my doctor about it. She basically said, "No evidence or studies that this is good." I was pretty stunned at the absolute quick dismissal. I had read the whole book and thought it sounded pretty reasonable. I tried the progesterone anyway for awhile but eventually quit because I again wasn't comfortable basically doing it on my own. I kept thinking, shouldn't the doctors be testing me to see what I need? And shouldn't they retest to see what my levels are after I have been on the hormones for awhile? Everyone just kept saying they just go by how you feel. I knew there must be doctors out there who knew how to do this but I couldn't find one, and I'm sure a lot of women have the same problem. Doctor's just wanted to hand me a synthetic hormones like Premarin, and I had read enough to know I didn't want to take horse urine.

A new gynecologist was not much more help. She believed everyone should be on estrogen, but didn't know much about bioidentical. I basically told her what I wanted to take and she prescribed it. (Hello?? Something wrong with this picture?) I did not want to take Premarin, so I asked for bioidentical estrogen and progesterone pills, along with some vaginal estriol cream and I had it filled at Women's International Pharmacy, a great compounding pharmacy (by mail). No mention of any tests to see my levels. She was not happy that I didn't want to do it her way, (I am sure she is still prescribing Premarin to everyone), so I had a feeling this was not going to work. And it didn't. The progesterone put me to sleep. I couldn't stay awake. Combine that with the fact that I still didn't know if what I was doing was safe and I thought someone should be prescribing for ME ... so I quit again. Did stay with the estriol vaginal cream, which helped, but didn't completely cure the dryness. I wanted to just give up the hunt but knew I couldn't. I love my husband and would like to have a sex life back!

Meanwhile the hormone studies (I believe it was called Women's Health Initiative) came out which caused women all over the country to start questioning their doctors and asking if their Premarin was safe.

And then about 5 months ago I found Suzanne Somers book, the Sexy Years. I ran out and bought it after seeing her talk about her experiences on T.V.

More later.....

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