A year ago I waved the white flag and began hormone replacement therapy, specifically a combination of estrogen patch and progesterone pill, after I was no longer able to handle severe daily hot flashes and insomnia.
The hormone replacement therapy worked wonders and within weeks I felt like myself again. What a relief! If you've never lived through hot flashes that rolled through several times a day and left your face red as a tomato and your body drenched in sweat, and your nerves standing on high alert... consider yourself lucky. Very. Lucky.
So...given the relief, why did I go off of the life saving hormones nine months later?
Two reasons: 1) The cost. The two prescriptions cost about $130 a month. That's the amount not covered by my high-deductible insurance. It's a lot of money to pay every month. 2) I'm the type of person who doesn't like to take medication of any variety. My idea of a pain killer is ibuprofen. And with all the conflicting messages about hormone replacement therapy, I didn't want to stay on it any longer than necessary.
I stopped using the hormones last September and immediately began taking an over the counter 'all natural' alternative containing black cohosh, an herbal remedy for hot flashes. This protocol has worked for many women. I tried it for three months, hoping it would work for me.
Unfortunately, it didn't.
After three months of increasingly uncomfortable hot flashes, I gave in yesterday and renewed my prescription of hormones. In some ways I felt like a failure, or that my body had failed me by not responding to a natural remedy.
Am I concerned about the risks of using hormone replacement therapy? Absolutely. And when I go in for my annual check up in March, I plan to discuss my dosage and how long I may need to continue on this prescription with my doctor. On the other hand, I am relieved to be going back to a therapy that allows me to simply feel normal again. I believe it speaks volumes about how devastating the symptoms of menopause are, that 'feeling normal' could feel like such a victory.
Why am I sharing this fascinating experience?
Because as much as I find it difficult to believe that I am actually turning 51 in two months, or going through menopause, I believe it's important to share this often frustrating experience with other women so that I can learn from their experiences of this important part of our aging process.
So, what say you? What has been your experience with menopause? Have natural remedies worked for you, or are you using hormone replacement therapy?
I welcome hearing about your experiences....