(Note: There are many updates at the bottom of this post. The most recent being from 10/24/11.)
It’s been 16 days since I started bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) for my lethargy, hot flashes, trouble losing the last 15 post-twin-pregnancy pounds & depression—and so far, the results have been nothing short of amazing.
(My fingers are crossed that I continue to be amazed.)
Seriously, it seems as though the sun is shining brighter. The leaves on the trees outside my home are greener. I feel more motivated.
I feel more natural energy than I *ever* remember feeling before.
I’ve ALWAYS been a low-energy person. To get anything done, I’ve always had to pour stimulants down my throat. And a lot of them. No doubt I’ve created major adrenal damage. No telling what other types of damage.
So the feeling of having *natural* energy is a foreign (but, of course, extremely welcome) one.
WHY I WAITED SO LONG TO TRY BHRT
I’ve wanted to try BHRT for years now, ever since I’d seen it profiled on the Oprah show. After the show, I ordered two books about bioidentical hormone replacement therapy that further solidified the fact that this was something I needed to try.
The trouble was that BHRT usually isn’t covered by insurance. It’s definitely not covered by mine and it’s quite costly. Especially the lab work that you have to get before the therapy even begins.
MY HORMONE IMBALANCES
About two years ago, I had all the necessary lab work done (blood, saliva & urine) in the Washington, D.C. area and it was determined that I was extremely low in progesterone and Vitamin D. I was also both estrogen dominant and estrogen deficient.
All of these imbalances can easily explain the genesis of my symptoms.
Soon after determining my imbalances, though, I found out I was pregnant with my twins, so my doctor told me that I needed to wait until after my twins were born in order to start BHRT.
I’m still not sure if it was a liability issue for her, but I’m guessing it was. So, I waited.
The problem is, after my pregnancy, my hormone levels had to be tested AGAIN—meaning even more money out of pocket in order to start a BHRT regimen—and having recently been laid off, I kept putting it off.
What finally pushed me over the edge, though, was that I’d been having hot flashes since the twins were born and when they were 11-months old (last month), they just became unbearable.
- I was moody all of the time, although I think I did a great job masking it for the babies’ sake. (At least I hope so.)
- I was tired as hell.
- I was having considerable trouble focusing… on anything… for long. By mid-day, I was done with any type of thought that required any effort.
- I couldn’t exercise without risking heat stroke.
- I couldn’t lose the last of my pregnancy weight no matter what (or how hard) I tried.
I was miserable. Miserable enough to spend money that we just didn’t have.
COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH MY BHRT
So, I shelled out the money to go and see someone. Fortunately, though, it wasn’t nearly as much money as I’d shelled out the last time.
Or, for the Los Angeles-based homeopath that I’d seen prior to trying the BHRT. After my initial visit with him, I remember walking up Wilshire Blvd, back to my car, $700.00 lighter… holding an oversized bag stuffed with lab kits that needed to be mailed to a lab accompanied by a check for an additional $400.00.
Talk about a hit to the wallet.
The lady I’m seeing now isn’t a naturopath, but a physician’s assistant who for years worked in allopathic medicine. She left allopathic medicine about seven years ago to work with hormone therapies and is now practicing about 25 miles from me in Tyler, Texas at LifeTime Health Center.
She charged $125.00 for the initial consultation which included my blood test. I then paid a lab $145.00 to test my saliva. Follow-up visits to her are $60… and aren’t very often. (Thank God.)
In fact, I won’t see her again for almost six weeks. She wants to give my natural progesterone therapy two (menstrual) cycles in order to properly assess my results. I do go once a month (for a three-month period) for vitamin D injections since my levels are so low. These visits cost me $20.00.
Lastly, I paid $34.99 for a 45-day supply of bioidentical progesterone. I got this by prescription at a local compounding pharmacy. I’d expected to pay about double of that, so this purchase made me happy.
MY EXPERIENCE SO FAR
The first night that I applied the progesterone cream, I experienced this unbelievably amazing feeling of joy. It started about 30 minutes after application and lasted until about mid-morning the next day. The only thing I can compare the feeling to is a really good buzz after drinking a few glasses of wine.
The word serenity came to mind a lot that evening & it felt as though my heart was swollen with joy.
It was WONDERFUL.
I’d say that overall, I’m feeling more “well.” For the first time since I can remember, I’m actually feeling “refreshed” when I wake up in the morning. I’ve never felt that way, no matter how many hours I’d slept the previous night.
I still get hot flashes, but they’ve decreased in both frequency and intensity—by a lot.
I’m not sure how the Armour Thyroid (which she also prescribed) is affecting me yet. I *think* I felt a bit more awake after the first few times I took it, but I’m not sure. It’s tough to distinguish between two therapies when you started them within a week of one another.
The only issue I’ve had so far with the therapy is when I began taking potassium iodide.
She prescribed an iodine supplement for me to take along with the Armour Thyroid and the natural progesterone, so I looked some up and saw great reviews on potassium iodide.
I was super excited to begin taking it, but only took it for three days before deciding to discontinue it (at least for the short-term). I’m not sure if I was taking too much or not, but I was beginning to experience major anxiety.
Feeling anxiety scares me to death because it’s usually a good indicator that I’m about to experience a major depressive episode. My last one was in 2007 and lasted for about seven months—much of it spent on the floor of a dark closet in the San Fernando Valley.
Trust me, it was miserable. (I’ll write about this in more detail soon.)
I’m on a pharmaceutical antidepressant right now, which keeps my depressive episodes at bay. But I’m not happy with my need to be on one and a major goal of mine is to get off of it.
I began thinking during this recent bout of anxiety that it (the anti-depressant) was no longer working for me and it scared the hell out of me because I cannot function when I go into a major depressive event.
And with two little boys to care for now, I cannot afford to *not* be able to function.
My short-term goals with balancing my hormones is to feel more *well* overall.
I also want to shed the last of my post-pregnancy weight. I can’t stand seeing it when I look in the mirror in the morning. I cringe sometimes when I see photos. I know it’s not a ton of weight (about 15lbs from pre-pregnancy), but it’s enough to make me feel uncomfortable.
I also want more *natural* energy. I’m way too reliant on caffeine and other stimulants like 5-Hour Energy.
I’m taking one 2oz bottle a day, but I’ve reduced my coffee habit by 1/3—2 cups a day versus 3. I know to replenish my adrenals, I’ll need to curb my caffeine even more—and a goal of mine is to go totally decaf by June.
My long-term goal (& a major one for me) is to be able to say goodbye to antidepressants forever. To be able to pinpoint the cause of my depression and discover the solution.
I want this both for me and my twin boys. They have my DNA—and I firmly believe that the type of depression I suffer from is caused from damaged DNA. But I know that there has to be a natural, non-toxic way to compensate for biological shortcomings.
It would kill me if one of my boys ever has to suffer through a depressive episode. I’d wish that on no one.
Will continue to update!
Update on 8/15/11:
Still going strong on the BHRT and still LOVING it. My hot flashes are nearly non-existent now and I feel an overall feelings of “wellness.” Although the BHRT didn’t seem to do much for my post pregnancy weight loss, I ended up losing the weight anyway with a round of the HCG Protocol.
My naturopathic practitioner assured me it was a safe and effective way of losing the last pounds and I’m happy to say that I lost 17lbs in a one-month period & am now back to my pre-twin pregnancy weight.
I blogged about it every day for the full month. I’m not saying that BHRT won’t help you lose weight. I suspect that over time it will. I was just desperate to get it off. . . fast.
My mood is also better with the BHRT. It’s more up and more consistent. At some point soon, I plan on getting off my prescription. It’ll be a scary process, but if the BHRT is doing what it should do, then it should be safe, right? We’ll see. Again, I’ll keep you updated.
Update on 9/23/11:
Still going strong on BHRT. I’ve screwed up on my dosage a few times, though, and have paid for it… in HOT FLASHES. Also, in just feeling “odd.”
If you’re about to start BHRT, take care to track your cycles, so this doesn’t happen to you. It’s VERY uncomfortable. I’m now on a combination of progesterone and testosterone and when I take it the way it was prescribed, I feel GREAT. I highly recommend this therapy.
Update on 10/24/11: Still a believer! I’ve become so much better at managing my dosage and feel even better now. I just had a follow-up visit and because I still have the occasional hot flash, she increased my progesterone by 25%. I get this new Rx filled later this week. Will continue to update.
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