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WINNING!

Here we are – at the finish line! Post blood work (normal), mammogram (all clear), Pap smear (passed with flying colours). I am the picture of health for a 51 year old woman AND I still have uncomfortable peri menopause symptoms. As I have spent the last 5 years navigating symptoms and fine tuning my sleep, stress, diet, exercise, people I spend time with, learning, self care – you name it, I am doing it. I feel like I am doing everything I possibly can to navigate my third stage as naturally as possible. But, the symptoms remaining – the hot, prickly, sore feet, the night cramps, the sore joints, the dry, patchy skin, the brain fog and lack of focus on one task, the low libido – I don’t think I have to put up with this IF I know there is a way that I can get through it.

I have spent countless hours and conversations investigating HRT (hormonal replacement therapy) OR MHT (Menopause Hormonal Therapy). I have listened to both sides – those who believe natural is the way to go and those who have been taking it for years. I don’t feel comfortable sitting on the fence when it comes to my podcast “Sexy Ageing” and so this exploration to try HRT is to give a balanced view of the options that are available.

The meeting with my doctor went well. She was very thorough in explaining the risks of which I do not fall into any of the categories. There is no family history of breast cancer and we all know now that HRT is NOT linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. I have never had blood clots and I don’t have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or any sign of heart disease. 

We discussed the upsides, well, it was actually me that said “I am looking forward to the long term benefits of having a healthy heart, stronger bones and less risk of dementia”. 

From the image you can see that I am using a patch of Body Identical Estradiol. This is in compliment with the Mirena coil which provides the progesterone support for my uterus so I only need to change this patch once/week! Too easy. The prescription was for 3 months and I can choose to have a follow up in 6 weeks and I might just do that to share the benefits I can already feel after only 48 hours! Oh, and I was able to fulfil this prescription at the local chemist for NZD5. FIVE DOLLARS.

As it has been 48 hours since I applied my first patch, I wrote down what I have noticed:

A very focused and calm work day. I did not have moments where I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to be doing. I got the job done and moved on to the next thing – like the good old days.

SLEEP – the second night I slept so soundly as I was not tossing and turning with joint pain. I can see from my sleep tracker that I had a good quality sleep and today I feel so energised. I never had pins and needles in my feet and my normally painful finger joint, I haven’t noticed any pain in 2 days!

A sense of positivity – even though I have had some interesting events happen in the work place, I don’t feel compelled to soak up the negative vibes. I am able to calmly distance myself from the situation and continue to do the great work I know I can do. I feel confident and calm.

And this week, 60 Minutes Australia released a fabulous documentary on Women and Menopause in Australia which had me in tears. Check it out HERE

STILL trying to get an HRT Prescription

Yep, I’m still here – in HRT purgatory. Now, where was I the last time I posted? Yes, no appointment booked at recommended clinic so I decided that to give a realistic picture of how one would go about accessing HRT in New Zealand, I would make an appointment at my local clinic with a GP.

My local clinic is a 5 minute walk so that’s as local as it gets. I walk to the clinic and mention to the lovely receptionist that I have just moved back to New Zealand and I need to register with a GP. That part is easy. And then I ask if there are any GP’s in the clinic that specialise in midlife women’s health and prescribing HRT specifically. Of course, the receptionist won’t be able to answer my request for HRT – that’s the doctors gig – but she does pause when I ask for the doctor that is the best choice for midlife women’s health. And I may have thrown out the word’s “menopause symptoms”. I did notice the receptionist blanch (I really like this word too, LOL). Was a strange reaction from a midlife receptionist who looked mildly uncomfortable at my direct request. Hot flash, maybe?

She looked thoughtful and then suggested the doctor she thought might be able to help me. Appointment booked for 4 days time. Not too shabby.

MEETING THE DOCTOR: On first impressions, we are about the same age, early 50’s. My GP is from the UK and I’m thinking “Great! She’s bound to have seen all the training and messaging that has accelerated in her homeland led by Dr Louise and Dr Rebecca at Newson Health UK”. For more information on these incredible women, check out EPISODE 18 of Sexy Ageing Podcast.

I mention that I have had 27 of 34 menopause symptoms over the past 4 years. My worst symptoms right now are sore joints, tingling hands and feet at night, some hot flushes at night, low libido, foot cramps, dry eyes, skin problems, occasional brain fog and frequent word dropping (sentences I can’t finish). I’m sure there are a few more but I’ve forgotten – hey! That’s a symptom too! And I haven’t had a period in 4 months.

I tell the doctor that I would like to try HRT, that I have researched the risks (minimal) and benefits (major upsides) and I would like to take advantage of the benefits instead of slowly feel myself floating away into oblivion when I have at least another 40 wonderful years ahead of me. I would like to NOT have the symptoms I have and that HRT will help me. To which she said:

“Consider Raynards? Yams. Risk. Blood Test. Natural”. Words of that nature to which I won’t expand on because that would be pointless. So if I am a typical peri menopausal women who visits her GP and doesn’t know she has peri menopause symptoms and tells her doctor of the plight she is in, she is far more likely to be prescribed medication for anxiety, depression or migraines than HRT. That’s shit.

To redeem my GP, she was really interested to hear about the good work being done in the UK and she said she would feel more comfortable with me having a blood test first and a mammogram (as it’s free and I’m 51), and then for us to meet up again to discuss the next steps. I obviously have only ONE step with three letters – H.R.T.

I have to applaud the NZ Health System for free everything – blood test and mammogram – and with reasonable pace. Will update soon! In the meantime, check out this YOUTUBE Interview with Dr Rebecca Lewis as we discuss HRT.

The Journey to HRT

Confused about HRT?

My eyes have been opened and I am going to explore how HRT – Hormonal Replacement Therapy – can ease some of the symptoms that I am experiencing. I recently turned 51 and while I know I do look younger, I can’t honestly, hand on heart, say that I FEEL younger than 51. There are still nights I don’t sleep well as my hands and feet are tingling and numb. There are days that my joints ache and not from a hard workout. My eyes feel dry and I can’t wear contact lenses everyday. I get scaly dry patches on my skin, usually related to drinking lovely NZ white wines. I am petrified that I will have a brain fog moment while presenting a training session or even recording a podcast episode!

I know I should feel better but even more importantly, my quest to live a life well and embrace longevity physically, mentally and emotionally drives me to understand and explore how HRT can protect me from death (see video below).

 I am all about living a long life, as long as I don’t feel or look like the living dead. So, I am going to be my own guinea pig and sign up for HRT. Join me on this journey as I chronicle the road to finding a doctor who will understand and prescribe it, and then how it feels to be taking it. 

VIDEO: Prof James Simon discusses the benefits of HRT and How the US Government and the Media conspired to convince women that HRT was dangerous.

DAY ONE: I googled “Doctor in Tauranga that will prescribe HRT”. RESULT – virtual crickets. Could not find a medical centre that specialises in women’s hormonal health. Will have to explore more.

Friend reaches out on IG page @sexyaging to let me know that she visited her GP with her “list” of menopausal symptoms which included severe migraines. Requested HRT as she know’s she is peri-menopausal and listened to EPISODE 18 with Dr Rebecca Lewis. Her GP prescribed medication for migraines and a round of anti-depressants. Same GP told her that HRT would increase her risk of breast cancer……friend lives in the USA…..

Friend reaches out on IG page @sexyaging to let me know that she visited her GP with her “list” of menopausal symptoms which included severe migraines. Requested HRT as she know’s she is peri-menopausal and listened to EPISODE 18 with Dr Rebecca Lewis. Her GP prescribed medication for migraines and a round of anti-depressants. Same GP told her that HRT would increase her risk of breast cancer……friend lives in the USA…..

I go for a massage and a facial (thanks hubby!). The therapist is around the same age as me. She starts to tell me that I have some dry scaly patches on my skin (I roll my eyes in my head cos my eyes are closed, trying to relax). Her recommendation is that I increase the fish oil in my diet and start using X,Y,Z products added to my skincare regimen. And if I am experiencing “flushes” in my skin that I could try drinking sage tea. WTF? So, while I try NOT to talk about perimenopause ALL the time, I say to her “Actually, I’m perimenopausal right now so the skin changes are due to fluctuating hormones and how my diet has changed blah blah blah”. SILENCE. About 30-seconds later, she says “Yeah, I’m pre-menopausal too, it sucks”. That is not a spelling error. She said “pre-menopause” which also means that she really doesn’t know what is happening to her either.

DAY TWO: Going for a walk with a friend today and she shares her successful consultation with her doctor who agreed that HRT is the right way to go. Get’s prescription. $5. I take note of the doctor contacts.

Called the clinic to request appointment with said doctor. Unfortunately, the doctor is taking on any NEW patients right now. “Do you have any other doctors in the practice that specialise in mid life women’s health needs?” I ask. Long pause. Short story – I need to go to the clinic in person to register anyway as a new patient to the clinic.

5/5

Not Sleeping? Awake in the night? Smashed the next day?

no-sleep1

My Ideal Sleep Routine

So we know that we need to be sleeping properly between 2-4am to ensure maximum recovery for the body and mind. If you want to know more about WHY, tune in to EPISODE 1: Hormones and Sleep with Dr Wendy Sweet, PhD
So we know that we need to be sleeping properly between 2-4am to ensure maximum recovery for the body and mind. If you want to know more about WHY, tune in to EPISODE 1: Hormones and Sleep with Dr Wendy Sweet, PhD

When I was experiencing sleeplessness during peri-menopause, I was so frustrated! I was getting to bed reasonably early, say 10.30pm, after a robust spinning class, late dinner and Netflix catch up. I thought I was relaxed. I couldn’t keep my eyes open so I believed I was going to have the best sleep EVER. And BAM! Awake at 2.30am.​

The Sleep Revolution: Arianna Huffington

And from the information I gathered, I made myself a SLEEP ROUTINE. This would be my “go to” for helping my body relax and recover and hopefully get over the hormonal hump of sleeplessness. I can report that this did, in fact, help me and I rarely wake up in the night between 2-4am. And to keep things in perspective, if there were upheavals and increased stress in my life, I would find it harder to commit to my sleep routine. And there’s the irony! That’s when I need it the most! Oh well, my imperfect life LOL

My RECOMMENDATIONS

Everybody is unique and different and so I can’t promise that this will work for you. But if your sleep is literally killing you right now, it won’t hurt to try, right?







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