On Sunday I took my last dose of HRT. After a couple of months on Prempak-C I decided that I wasn’t prepared to live with the side effects.
Prempak-C and Weight Gain
Looking through the photos of myself taken over the Summer the change in my appearance was obvious. Over the course of two months my face had become more and more puffy, so much so that I looked like I was developing the moon-face associated with taking steroids. And my tummy, which was bit big to begin with, had become considerably more bloated and was growing fatter by the day. Even though I changed my eating habits and upped my exercise, still my belly continued to grow.
It had been a bit of a battle to convince my GP to prescribe HRT for me in the first place. Back in early June, while seeing my doctor about yet another Urinary Tract Infection, I mentioned that I would like to start HRT. After suffering with peri-menopausal symptoms for the past seven years I was at my wits end. I felt I couldn’t take another day of hot flushes, night sweats, heart palpitations and levels of irritability that turned me into a snapping, short-fused crazy woman. Not to mention the other symptoms which have been affecting my relationship with my partner.
I had gone to the appointment armed with a list of menopausal symptoms the length of an A4 page and several print-outs from the internet about the benefits of bio-identical hormones. After reading about the negative effects of synthetic HRT, I was determined to go the natural hormone route.
The Battle for Natural Progesterone
In fact, this was not the first time I’d spoken to a GP about trying bio-identical hormones. About a year earlier I had seen a female GP and asked her to prescribe natural progesterone for me as I thought I was displaying all the symptoms of oestrogen dominance.
Her response was that she was unable to prescribe anything natural, only patented drugs, and that my best bet was to try something off the internet and to monitor myself with regular blood tests. I eventually gave up the idea of self-administering natural progesterone as my periods were very irregular and it seemed very complicated trying to work out on which days of my cycle to apply the progesterone cream.
However, I have since learned that natural progesterone has been available on prescription on the NHS for a while in the form of a pill called Utrogestan. The problem is that not many doctors know about it.
No HRT For Me Until the Menopause
On this recent occasion my GP initially refused my request for HRT saying that he could only prescribe HRT for women who had already been through the menopause and were not peri-menopausal.
I think my jaw almost hit the ground at that point. The fact is that the symptoms of peri-menopause, which can last for years, are far worse than those experienced after menopause. It is during the peri-menopause stage that a woman’s body is struggling to adapt to falling levels of oestrogen and progesterone. My response was, ‘But this could go on for years. I can’t live like this for however many more years!’ Eventually, he relented and agreed to send me for a blood test.
A few days later he phoned back to say the blood test showed I’m in the throes of menopause and apart from low oestrogen and progesterone I also have very low testosterone. I felt vindicated at last. He then referred me to a female GP who’s more au fait with HRT.
Bio-identical Hormones – ‘Too much Fuss and Bother’
When I saw the female GP I told her I would like to try bio-identical hormones. She was rather dismissive, saying that it was a lot of fuss and bother to take them. I got the impression she wasn’t familiar with them. She convinced me to give normal synthetic HRT a try, saying that most of her patients had had good results with Prempak-C and it was very easy to take as the oestrogen and progesterone tablets were packaged together and it was clearly marked when you had to begin taking the progesterone.
Side-effects and Benefits of Prempak-C
I agreed to give it a try, but I didn’t feel happy about it. For one thing, I know that Prempak-C is made from pregnant mare’s urine, which I find a bit disturbing. And the list of side-effects from taking Prempak-C, which includes stroke, cancer and blood clots, is alarming.
But I find it very difficult to argue with doctors and push for what I want, especially when they seem very reluctant to prescribe something I want. I wish I didn’t – after all it is my body! This is something I obviously have to work on.
And so I started taking Prempak-C HRT at the end of June. The first thing I noticed was that I was very bloated within hours of taking it. But on the plus side, my hot flushes, which I had been experiencing every 15 minutes some days, just disappeared. And the night sweats which had disturbed my sleep for years reduced in number to just one in the early morning. I think I’ve also been a bit calmer, less stressed out by things and definitely less irritable. All these things have been real pluses and have definitely added to the quality of my life.
But the weight gain and bloating have been unbearable and have just made me feel worse about myself. Menopause has not done much for my self-image as it’s made me feel old and emotionally volatile. Also, I’m still experiencing breast tenderness and a host of other symptoms that have not been improved at all.
So, it’s back to square one. I’ve an appointment to see the GP again and this time I am going to push to be prescribed bio-identical hormones. I prefer the idea of taking something that is derived from natural sources and is easily recognised by my body. But I suspect it may be a bit of a battle to convince her. If that doesn’t work, then I’m considering going private. I’ve heard Dr Marion Gluck does good work and I’m currently reading her book, It Must Be My Hormones. I don’t really want to go private as it will be expensive, but in the end, it might be worth it.
If you’ve had experience of taking bio-identical hormones and can recommend a good doctor in London I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below or send me an email via the Contact page.
Article in the Daily Mail: Should middle-aged women be taking natural HRT?