February 4, 2023

Filipino Guardian

Sentinels of Filipino Free Press

Hormone therapy saved my life after doctors dismissed my perimenopause symptoms

As said to Nicole Audrey Spector

I was 36 years old when a light went out in me. I’ve always been a motivated self-starter – someone who would get up early in the morning to break in before starting the day I was really looking forward to. But suddenly I wasn’t that person anymore.

It was like I had become a hollowed out version of myself. I was plagued with insomnia, muscle pain, joint pain, itching and fatigue. My brain fog was so severe that when I entered a number into a computer, I had to write the number down and double-check it countless times. My memory has been shot.

I also had no sex drive, which was unusual for me, and it affected my marriage so badly that I thought I didn’t love my husband anymore and considered breaking up. And it wasn’t just the act of sex – my skin tingles at the thought of even being touched.

Something was obviously going on. A friend of mine suggested it might be a hormonal issue so I went to my gynecologist who ordered blood work.

Everything came back to normal except for my vitamin D levels which were low.

I started taking vitamin D supplements in hopes that they would make a difference – that they would help me get back into my body and stop feeling like a ghost of my true self.

But as far as I could tell, nothing has changed. My symptoms continued. For six years.

During this time I suffered a prolapsed uterus and underwent a partial hysterectomy (an option that allowed me to retain my ovaries and avoid surgical menopause).

After that, my symptoms only got worse. Despite this, my gynecologist told me that everything was normal.

At times the brain fog was so overwhelming that I wondered if I had early onset dementia. I just couldn’t find the energy to get out of bed one weekend. I lay there in agony, feeling like all my problems were my fault, like I was crazy.

“It must be depression,” I thought.

I asked a few close friends what they recommend when they think they are depressed.

“Who do I call?” I asked. “A therapist? A psychiatrist? I think I need antidepressants.”

One of my friends suggested that before I embark on the mental health path, I consult a functional medicine practitioner who could use a more holistic approach to my treatment.

“You have all the symptoms I had after my hysterectomy,” my friend said, adding that she’s been on hormone therapy, which has worked wonders for her.

I was a bit skeptical. Hormone therapy? For real? To fix pain and itch and brain fog and sadness and insomnia? It seemed like a big challenge, but I was beyond desperate.

I took her advice and went to a functional medicine doctor and had blood work done. The functional medicine practitioner said that some of my hormone levels are actually quite low and that I could benefit tremendously from hormone therapy.

I was so relieved to finally be listened to and taken seriously – that someone who professionally agreed with me actually thought something was seriously wrong – that I sobbed on the spot. Without hesitation, I decided on hormone therapy.

And the first night in years, I slept through the entire night. I didn’t even know that was possible!

In about four months, my life improved radically. I started waking up with energy and purpose – just like I did when I was 35 or younger. My mind was clear and focused. The sadness had lifted, along with the fog that had clouded my brain for so long. All pain in my joints and muscles disappeared.

(Photo/BritaneeJeanStudio)

I went running for the first time since my symptoms became too much to bear and I ran three miles without stopping. I cried the whole time – beautiful tears of joy and relief. i was back

My sex drive was back with a roar too. I deeply desired my husband’s touch and looked forward to having sex with him. All those years before I had relied on a glass of wine to vaguely get me in the mood. Just like I had relied on ibuprofen for pain relief and melatonin to catch up on a few hours of interrupted sleep. I didn’t need any more of it.

I was so inspired by how much better hormone therapy made me feel that I posted a video of my journey on TikTok. I gave it little thought until a few days later when I learned that more than 9 million people around the world saw my story.

Since then, I’ve reached out to thousands of women (and a few husbands, too) and empathized with their stories of struggling with perimenopause and hormonal imbalances.

So many women are dealing with the same horrific symptoms that I have been going through. They, too, have been told that there is nothing wrong and that their hormone levels are “normal.” Many of them have come to believe that as women age, that’s just how life is – that you become some kind of zombie version of your former self.

I had started to believe that too.

But that’s not true. Life doesn’t end at perimenopause (or a hormone imbalance) – just like I know it won’t end at menopause. Not every woman will need the kind of help I need, but many of them will, and I’m here to say there is hope. You deserve to feel good.

You can turn that light back on within yourself. And you can shine brighter than ever.

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