I started having menopausal symptoms in my late 40s. Although I never had any hot flashes, I was experiencing vaginal dryness. I tried Replens, but it didn't seem to work. Ï also had sleeplessness and just wasn't feeling my self. I had always been a very energetic person and I was tired all the time, ? went to a naturopath and tried all the remedies like black cohosh, but they didn't help either. Meanwhile, I started feeling like I had a bladder infection all the time, although nothing came up on the tests. So my doctor put me on the estrogen ring [which is placed deep inside the vagina] to alleviate my vaginal dryness. But it was horrible and I couldn't get it out fast enough. That's when my gynecologist prescribed Premarin and progestin, a hormone replacement therapy formulation, ? remember the first day I took them - it was on my 50th birthday. I started feeling great right away - my sleeplessness and diyness cleared up almost immediately. I tootled along nicely for several years when suddenly I developed non-stop burning in my vagina. I went to ail the top doctors and all they could recommend is that I wear cotton underpants. They were concerned with vaginal care and weren't diagnosing the problem. Finally, I found a doctor who switched my hormone formulation to bio-identical hormones, Estrace and Prometrium. The burning stopped. I felt better again. Two years ago, when the large study came out about hormones causing breast cancer and heart disease, I hesitated about continuing. But for me, now 61 years old, it came down to quality of life. I decided to stay on, making sure that I watch my health. Every year, my doctor performs an internal exam, a vaginal ultrasound to monitor for uterine cancer, and a blood test for ovarian cancer. I do breast self-exams and receive three clinical breast exams and a mammogram yearly. As for my heart health, I make sure cholesterol and blood pressure tests are taken every year. They always come out perfectly. Once a day, I swallow a baby aspirin, I get regular bone scans - again, I've been told I have the bones of a young woman. Meanwhile, I sleep fabulously. When I wake up in the morning, I jump out of bed. My joints are limber. Frankly, for me, I don't see any reason to stop taking hormones. So far, so good. - B.G.
Copyright Initiatives for Women's Health, Inc. Nov/Dec 2004
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