Three Year Menopause Update & My Experience with HRT
Today marks exactly three years since my hysterectomy – a complete oophorectomy – on February 12, 2020. It has been three years of many ups and downs as menopause slammed into my life due to having both ovaries removed.
To follow my documented journey of Hysterectomy and Menopause:
The story begins here, including my checklist for how to prepare for surgery and my recovery process. As well as what I learned one year after. Because both of my ovaries were removed, the procedure is referred to as an oophorectomy.
I reached a milestone two years ago at the beginning of 2022 with my menopause journey. After two years, I finally reached the point of asking my OB/GYN provider for HRT (hormone replacement therapy).
At my annual exam, we discussed the options because of the terrible experiences I had over the course of the past year with joint pain, lack of sleep, and hot flashes. She gave me several options, but I landed on a low dose of estrogen HRT called Estradiol.
IT HAS BEEN LIFE CHANGING!
As a midlife woman in my early fifties, and probably like others around my age or in perimenopause or menopause, I was told that taking hormones could cause side effects – mainly cancer. The word cancer is scary and if there is a study pointing to something causing cancer, then I will opt out, than you very much!
After suffering with menopausal symptoms and trying to find some solutions, I discovered there is little to help women my age besides the whole conversation of “well that is just how it is in menopause”, “it sucks, but it is just part of being a woman”, and on and on.
I went on a quest to find information and help for what I was going through and have since come across several researchers and physicians who are trying to change the conversation surrounding menopause. It is relieving that the conversation is changing and more and more people are providing information about peri- and menopause and dispelling myths through more than anecdotal information.
One of the first legitimate people I found is Dr. Mary Claire Haver, board certified OB/GYN who is also certified in medical nutrition and has dedicated her practice to women in this midlife phase of life. Her new book and program called The Galveston Diet (Amazon book affiliate link) is a great resource for women looking to improve nutrition and health in this phase of life. She is a practitioner who is also in this phase of life.
I’m not affiliated with her program, but I did purchase her signature program and recommend it for anyone needing help with nutrition and understanding our hormones and bodies at this phase.
Here is what I have learned on my 3 year journey:
- Menopause affects everyone differently, but the symptoms can be debilitating and life changing.
- The scare around HRT / hormones / taking estrogen stems from the Women’s Healthcare Initiative that was done in the late nineties that put a cancer scare into the majority of women.
- That study has basically been debunked for its position on HRT.
- The North American Menopausal Society has released a statement on HRT in July 2022 that hormone therapy is the most effective treatment for hot flashes and other symptoms as well as prevention of bone loss. ARTICLE LINK
- HRT benefits generally outweigh the risks. This is something that needs to be discussed with your own health care provider.
- The belly fat that menopause causes is due to the decrease in estrogen which causes visceral fat and surrounds organs such as stomach, liver, and intestines; as opposed to subcutaneous fat which is just under the skin. The same diet and exercise doesn’t work the same.
Estradiol and Menopause Symptom Treatment
Menopause can be a difficult and challenging time for many women. During this stage of life, the body experiences a decline in the production of estrogen and other hormones, leading to various physical and emotional symptoms. Estradiol is a form of estrogen that is commonly used to treat symptoms of menopause, including joint pain. It works by replacing the estrogen that the body is no longer producing, which can help reduce inflammation and improve joint function.
For some women, taking estrogen in the form of medication like Estradiol can help alleviate these symptoms and make the transition to menopause easier. Women who start taking estradiol during menopause may experience relief from joint pain, and other symptoms, within a few weeks to a few months.
Estradiol treats symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and mood swings. It is available in various forms. I am currently taking less than 1mg in pill form. Relief is quick and symptoms usually diminish within a few weeks to a few months.
It is important to remember that Estradiol is not a cure for menopause, but rather a way to manage symptoms. Women who take estradiol may still experience some symptoms, but they are usually less severe and occur less frequently.
In addition to alleviating joint pain, Estradiol may help prevent osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become weak and fragile, by maintaining bone density. This can be particularly important for women who are at increased risk of osteoporosis due to aging, genetics, or a lack of physical activity. I cannot prove Estradiol cured my joint issues, but for me there was too much parallel in situation.
I had my first bone density test last year and was found to have early stages of Osteopenia, which is a loss of bone mass or bone mineral density. It is the stage before osteoporosis, and without treatment, can progress to osteoporosis. Along with Estradiol, I have incorporated more strength training into my fitness routine. This type of exercise can slow down bone loss and fight this part of the aging process for women in menopause along with a calcium and vitamin D rich diet.
Estradiol is not for everyone and obviously, cannot be taken by everyone. That is why it is important to schedule regular visits with a healthcare provider to discuss your symptoms and medical history. Some women may not be able to take Estradiol due to a history of certain health conditions, such as breast cancer or blood clots. A doctor can also discuss any potential side effects of Estradiol and help you weigh the risks and benefits of taking the medication.
It is also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and getting enough sleep. This can help reduce symptoms and improve overall health during menopause.
My Menopause Journey with Estradiol After a Year
My experience after taking Estradiol over the past year has been positive. I had been suffering with partially frozen shoulder in both shoulders and had done everything for relief. That has disappeared.
I have had plantar fasciitis and a heel spur, which began within a year of my hysterectomy. I don’t know if it’s related, but my symptoms and pain have almost subsided. (I’ve also done a complete shoe transformation which has also helped I’m sure.)
The hot flashes I was experiencing started diminishing greatly after a few weeks of Estradiol and have all but disappeared after a year. This alone is worth it in my opinion!
My sleep patterns have improved greatly. I had started taking Melatonin to aid in sleep and help me rest better, but I have stopped taking them at this point because I’m back to having more regular sleep pattern.
In conclusion, menopause can be a challenging time for many women, but taking Estradiol can help alleviate common menopausal symptoms such as joint pain, hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings, and make the transition easier. It is important to consult options with a medical provider and maintain a healthy lifestyle while taking Estradiol. With the right support and care, you can successfully manage the symptoms of menopause and live a healthy and fulfilling life.
Three Years of Learning After Hysterectomy and Menopause
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