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Hormonal Hell: How I’m Doing on Hormone Replacement Therapy – HRT

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I started on my hormone replacement therapy (HRT) program about three months ago, even though I’m barely out of my 30s. If you’re wondering what hormone replacement therapy is like and does HRT work, here’s my answer based on my personal results:

It’s good. It’s really, really good.

Hormone Replacement Therapy HRT Progesterone Pills What It's Like Hormonal Hell

That is not to say that I haven’t had some ups and downs and no problems anymore.  I have had challenges.

But within 30 days I felt like my whole world had turned right side up. Gone were the problematic anxiety and inability to deal with any amount of stress. (I had previously tried all of these anxiety-reducing supplements which worked marginally, but not completely like HRT did.)

My PMS symptoms eased off about 80%. And I wasn’t fearful anymore of not knowing what kind of mood I’d be in when I woke up each morning.

Why I Knew I Needed Help

What had driven me to seriously consider Hormone Replacement Therapy? Shouldn’t I be able to balance my hormones if I eat right or exercise more or take the right supplements?

crossword puzzle with word hormones in green

Sometimes every natural remedy you try just won’t give you the results you need. I know.

Hormonal Imbalance Symptoms

So how did I think that my hormones might be to blame? Well, after years and years and trying several fixes, I still had the same hormonal imbalance problems:

  • Anxiety
  • Feeling Overwhelmed
  • Irritability
  • Weight Gain
  • Mood Swings
  • Fatigue

We all have some of these problems. Sometimes you have them ALL. But often they’re so vague and general that often doctors just treat the symptoms of one or a couple, perhaps not treating the cause.

Sometimes, though, these symptoms are severe. Like, life-changing severe. They all come at once and they won’t go away. No matter how hard you try and what new supplements you take or how much you go out there and exercise and watch what you eat. It’s an endless tide of when they roll in, you start to live in dread of their existence and when they will pop up.

Traditional doctors just start looking at you like you are crazy, wondering if your problems are all in your head. That’s where I was.

You see, these are all problems that on the surface sound trivial. Everyone gets overwhelmed. When you don’t eat right, you get irritable. Of course you gain weight when you have too many cookies over the holidays.

But they’re not trivial. Not when you don’t have the means to control them. Not when you try and try and try some more to fix the things that are diminishing your quality of life each and every day, and instead of getting better, they only get worse.

That was my life for seven years. I tried to hide it. I tried to justify the problems as age related. Even though I certainly shouldn’t be having age-related problems in my mid to late 30s.

Please watch my video, where I explain my symptoms more, and how they were really impacting my life in a negative way. I have a feeling that there are more women (and men, actually, too) that are feeling the same way.

Deciding to See an Endocrinologist

I searched for physicians and endocrinologists to find one that is as holistic as possible, that doesn’t believe in prescribing tons of synthetic prescriptions or doing questionable medical techniques.

I finally relied on the referral of an endocrinologist by my chiropractor, who is himself a holistic-minded physician, as well. You can read about my first endocrinologist visit. I also have a video below:

My Lab Results

To put things into perspective, let’s first look at what my lab results said.

Did you know that there are actual labs for hormone imbalance that can definitely show if you are having hormonal swings or hormone deficiencies?

Cortisol Level Hormone Test Lab Result

Even though I was going to a medical doctor, even though I’ve been through so many tests before for all kinds of illnesses, somehow I just had this feeling that treating a perceived hormone imbalance would be using a lot of guessing, a lot of assuming, and a lot of wondering about whether or not any of my hormones were actually out of balance.

I was wrong.

For any of you who think that you might have a hormonal imbalance, it is so awesome to know that you can be tested and know for sure! Yes, you can actually get real proof (or proof that it’s not hormone related).

I’m sharing my recent hormonal test results with you, to show you that:

  1. Yes, I really, really do have a hormonal imbalance. My gut feeling was right (and always is).
  2. These are real tests. You don’t have to wonder anymore.
  3. A thorough doctor who has a holistic approach to your health should be using these.

Let’s start with the most shocking, shall we?

Progesterone

This number is proof that I was suffering for way too long.

Hormonal Hell Blood Work Test Results Progesterone

Let’s focus on that bold 16L number on the very bottom of the photo. It’s the Progesterone/Estradiol ratio.

Notice that the numbers beside it say the normal range is 45-450? Yeah. It’s pretty obvious that 16 is NOT in that optimal range.

Even worse is that my endocrinologist – you know, who works with hormone balances for a living – says that 200-600 is actually the optimal range to feel great. (He penciled that in).

So, I’m at a 16 when a 200 should be the minimum that I have to feel like a normal human being again.

I left the doctor’s office feeling more than a little justified after seeing that number.

Cortisol

Okay, onto the cortisol levels. This test I’ve had done a few years ago, too. It’s a spit test (watch my video on what it’s like below). My numbers were low last time, just like they are now.

Hormonal Hell Blood Work Test Results Cortisol

The white boxes and lines are where my cortisol levels are throughout the day. The black wave in the background is where the optimal range is.

For everyone, your morning cortisol levels should be highest in the morning. Mine obviously are, but not as high as they should be.

Estradiol, DHEA and Testosterone

My doctor didn’t seem to want to focus on these as much right now, since the other major imbalance needs to be taken care of first.

Again, you can see from actual blood work that my testosterone levels are low – and you should have testosterone, even as a female.

Hormonal Hell Blood Work Test Results

Leaky Gut Syndrome

When I had my first endocrinologist visit, before I had any lab work done, my doctor said that there are usually four key pillars to hormonal imbalances. One of them being a leaky gut.

I had been tested years before for leaky gut, and it was negative. I didn’t think that I had the problem, but was curious to see what the test results would say this time.

My doctor was actually surprised that I didn’t have a leaky gut, according to the lab results from blood work.

Hormonal Hell Blood Work Test Results Leaky Gut

These are just a few of the lab results done. I didn’t show the pages of blood work that looked at basic tests, including cholesterol, iron levels, Vitamin D levels, and a lot of other stuff that would show up if there was a problem that could be causing your physical ailments, not just a hormonal imbalance.

These tests are done in a variety of ways, including blood work, spit tests and I’ve seen other tests done with urine samples.

Don’t be afraid of the testing, in order to know if you truly have a hormonal imbalance and are suffering when you could be thriving, instead.

If you’re going to a doctor who doesn’t believe in doing these tests, yet you truly have a feeling that your hormones are ‘off,’ switch doctors. Or at least ask why they are not utilizing this medical technology.

The answers are out there.

Progesterone Replacement

After my very first visit to my endocrinologist to diagnose hormonal imbalances, I was started on a low dose of progesterone.

It immediately made a difference.

Hormone Replacement Therapy HRT Progesterone Pills What It's Like Hormonal Hell

But I was still having some anxiety, some irritability and fluctuating lows and highs.

My doctor put me on a higher dose, which seemed to help those issues.

I am having some bodily adjustments getting used to the progesterone levels, namely my period starting too early or not at all. We’ll figure it out with the dosage. It’s just hard when you’ve got to wait for a 30-day cycle to see if there have been any positive changes.

Sleep

My biggest problem so far has been sleep.

This is the ironic part.

Most people with hormone deficiencies, especially progesterone, have a hard time sleeping. I didn’t. My doctor was actually quite surprised about that.

Once I started taking progesterone, I instantly had a problem with getting a good night’s sleep. I was “tired but wired.” I started having vivid dreams and waking up all throughout the night, once I finally did get to sleep.

Progesterone is usually taken at night, to help with sleep. After hearing this though, my doctor switched me to morning doses.

Turns out, less than 10% of people have this reaction. I’m one of the few.

We’ve still been switching around dosage, with different timing at different times of the month. It’s hard to keep track and a calendar is most definitely necessary to keep things straight.

But it’s worth it.

P.S. This is the natural mattress that I use and love. 

Hormone Replacement Therapy HRT Progesterone Pills What It's Like Hormonal Hell

Is HRT For You?

If you have been struggling with crushing anxiety, depression or irritability, you owe it to yourself to get your hormone levels checked. Don’t just go to a psychologist or psychiatrist as the only answer to the problem.

If you have PMS so bad that you dread each month, that you are curled up on the couch with a heating pad because the pain is so bad – you owe it to yourself to see an endocrinologist along with a gynecologist.

Got hormonal cystic acne? Here’s what I used that made a big difference in getting rid of acne

I was once were you might be. Let me tell you, after using HRT, for me it’s MUCH, MUCH better on the other side.

Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy has made me whole again and allowed me to start working more. If you find the right doctor, who is adamant about using bio-identical hormones and not synthetic ones, I’m hoping you’ll have the same positive results, too.

 

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elia

Wednesday 28th of February 2018

I really am in a little hell of my own. Firstly I was prescribed HRT for fully menopause, when I am still so very peri peri menopausal. Ive got blocked ears, no appetite, blurred vision and I am now on the 6th hormone replacement.

Kimberly Button

Wednesday 28th of February 2018

Elia, Oh no. Have you been on bio-identical hormones. Like, true bio-identical hormones from a compounding pharmacy? Sometimes hormone replacement therapies are promised to be bio-identical, but they're not.

Kate Powell

Thursday 18th of May 2017

Found this looking up if HRT causes vivid dreams!!! I am going to try switching dose to the morning! So exhausted!

Kimberly Button

Sunday 21st of May 2017

Kate, OMG, yes!!!!!!! I was so freaking exhausted with crazy dreams, too, that I was hating life with my original dosage. Morning was so much better for me! My dosage now includes some days with twice a day, so I make sure that I take the night time dose before bedtime. It is so much better! Hoping you feel better soon, too!

Carrie

Sunday 3rd of July 2016

I was just wondering today why I haven't heard much about HRT these days! I'm in the perimenopause stage and am wondering if what I experience is "normal" so I'll certainly look into the bio HRT. Thank you for sharing your story, especially the success of it!

Kimberly Button

Sunday 3rd of July 2016

Thanks, Carrie. Yes, I do believe there's a BIG difference with HRT with synthetic and with bio-identical. I'm so thankful that I started the treatment when I did. One more day of feeling that way would have been too much to bear. Good luck with your journey!!!! :)

Mikki

Tuesday 21st of June 2016

So glad to hear this is working out so well for you! Yahoo!!!