It has been 5 months since I cut my estradiol patch in half; the next step in getting off HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy.)
Thankfully, the process has been relatively easy. Oh sure, I’ve had hot flashes on occasion. Especially at night. Still, none of them has been of the severity or duration of my pre-HRT surges.
Every woman is different. I know I sound like a broken record here, but it’s true. No single remedy, help, or idea fits each woman during her menopause transition.
With that in mind, here are a few things I’ve learned that may be of help if you are considering stopping your HRT or even your herbal remedies.
#1. Take it slow, sistah.
While there are few absolutes, here’s one. Do not go “cold turkey” off your HRT, herbal remedy, or other ‘natural’ solution. Why would you want to rush it? Give your body time to adjust.
Give yourself a chance to notice if side effects are going to show up, and if they might diminish over time. Look for other ways to remain cool, rested, and emotionally balanced. Remember that your body has a feedback system built in to monitor hormone levels – let’s not take it to condition Red, stress overload, shock to system just because we’ve decided to stop HRT.
Believe it or not, other parts of your body start manufacturing estrogen – oh sure, not in childbearing young woman amounts, but more than you might think. So the slight drop from decreasing your HRT stimulates the body to make a little more. Sometime later, after 6 months or so, you may decrease your hormone therapy again, giving your body another little signal to kick it up.
Likely, we’ll have enough to keep us from chronic insomnia, mood swings, and intractable hot flashes.
2. Exercise helps with all the menopause symptoms. Seriously! I did not want to believe this, but sure enough, if I get my walk in every day, I have few to no hot flashes, I sleep soundly through the night, and my mood is calm and upbeat. If I skip it for more than a day, my symptoms kick up a little more.
3. If you try other remedies to take the place of your HRT, remember to try only one at a time and give it at least 2 weeks to work before adding or trying something else. For more info on Natural remedies read Natural Symptom Relief for Menopause. Always tell your trusted health care partner about everything you are taking, to avoid adverse medication interactions.
And be sure to avail yourself of non-medical, non-herbal remedies like fans, wicking sleepwear, hypnosis (I swear it works – studies prove it and I’ve tried it myself with great success.)
4. Be gentle with yourself. Treat yourself with kindness and generosity during this change. This is yet another transition and it needn’t be a “should” but a gradual lessening as a choice. I’m getting better at this – I still tend to expect too much of myself or push too hard. Rest, chocolate, me-time are all important adjuncts to leaving HRT.
5. Finally, I cannot underestimate the power of girlfriends in getting us through every part of the menopause transition. If you have a group of like-minded, like-afflicted gal pals, make sure you spend lots of time with them. When women ask me what the single most important menopause remedy/help/fix is, I tell them it is Girlfriends with a capital G.
Girlfriends will get you through getting off HRT, too. Something wonderful happens when women get together and share their experience and experiences; a special synergy that is more healing than ANY herb or medication, oil or cream. And if you don’t have such a group, here’s how to start one: Creating Your Own Goddess Group. Of course, you can always join the rest of us right here on the Menopause Goddess Blog.
For much more info, try the search engine on our blog or order your own copy of The Big M where the Venuses share ALL.
I am 49, still have regular periods but I’m starting to feel the early effects of menopause such as forgetfulness and irritability. I have an older sister that is going through a really, really rough change so I’m trying to get a jump and educate myself as well as gather information for her, which she usually finds annoying.
The thought I wanted to share is in regard to hot flashes. When interviewing my mother about her menopause, she said she remembers experiencing hot flashes after eating chicken. I thought that connection odd until considering all the non-natural things they pump chicken with these days, including hormones! I’m a highly suggestive person but in my own experimentation, when I eat processed meat or dairy (processed with hormones), my temperature runs really warm. I am also gluten free for over a year now. I have two older sisters, the one I already mentioned who is going through menopause and another one who is done with her change. Both experienced hot flashes before the age of 49, which is my age now. I hope I’m not jinxing myself that diet could be a major factor and that one day the big hot flash is coming to get me, but I’ll certainly keep you posted as my plight continues.
I was forced to give up HRT, due to allergy to the patch adhesives and high BP from orals. We all store estrogen in fat, so everyone has some back up stored. I would definitely taper off SLOWLY. I get my worst hot flashes after my 2nd glass of wine. Oh well! I take a sleeping pill, so not up at night thank god. I find my internal thermostat is really haywire: often too hot or cold. I add or subtract clothing as needed and try to keep a humorous point of view w/ family and coworkers. My irritability is stable (taking antidepressant), otherwise I would be Homicidal. However, mood disorders run in my family and several premenopausal members are on antidepressants, so I cut myself some slack. Bec/ I am SOOO type A, I’ve committed to yoga 3 days/week, which helps everything. Even my bosses have commented on my more even temper and greater serenity, due to yoga! I also walk and bicycle.
Just find out what works for you, and your sister. Lynnette is totally righteous on all her advice.
Our decreased hormones shift & reshape our lives in a way we could not have imagined in our middle life when it seems we are to be busily productive forgetting ourselves. Perhaps our absence of “periods” & all those other pesky bodily reminders opens us presenting an opportunity to reevalute, realign, redefine who we are? Lynette, you offer wonderfully astute guidelines for which womenkind is grateful!
Thanks for the great comments, goddesses!
Nancy, I think that you may be on to something with the hormones in meat, chicken, etc. I try to eat hormone free, antibiotic free meats as much as possible. (I often wonder about the hormones in chicken, etc when I see 8 year old girls sprouting breasts. I don’t remember that from my childhood…
Anyway, do keep us posted. And remember, the worst if you do get intense symptoms usually lasts only a year or two. Which can seem like a lifetime when you’re in the midst of it, but in hindsight wasn’t unbearable. After all, we’re women. We can take a lot if we know what to expect and that it won’t last forever.
I’d highly recommend looking at all natural alternatives like Femivital, a completely herbal organic remedy that uses plant estrogens from black cohosh, red clover and hops. It worked for me.
Hi, I’ve been on the Climara Pro patch for a litle over 4 yrs. Slept great on the patch along with an Ativan. Doc wants me to go off HRT as I have been on it so long. Tried cold turkey, awful, couldn’t sleep. So he said for 3 months put one on every other week then 3 months with one on once a month. My side effect of not having a patch on for almost 3 weeks is insomnia, hot flashes and dizzyness. I really don’t want to keep putting the patch on but wonder if i do once a month for the next 3 months if that will help me feel better. My regular doctor said just stay off it, your body will adjust. He suggested Celexa for the anxiety, said it will help me sleep better. Any ideas???
Okay, Kathy, here’s an idea. The climara patch is small if I remember…. If you get the generic estradiol patch, it is a lot bigger. Which makes it easier to cut it into smaller and smaller pieces. I started with a full patch, then after a few months, 3/4 patch per week, then 1/2 for a month or two, then 1/4 patch. Finally I was taking a tiny pie shaped wedge, then nothing. So I very slowly got off – took almost a year. So I didn’t skip any weeks until I finally went off. Try that and I think you might be happier. (Your MD tells you to decrease it based on some formula he knows, not on having lived through Menopause. I would not add Celexa to the mix unless this does not work. Keep me posted! And good luck.
I’m 53, and one to two packs a night of Estradiol gel has worked for me for nearly 2 years, but I am going to quit slowly due to significant hair loss. I’ve decided I’d rather suffer the mood swings, body aches, and night sweats than be bald!
Kammy, I’m so with you. Hair loss for me was the most frightening symptom of menopause (and I had several.) Most times, HRT helps with hair loss – there are however, a few women who report just the opposite. The best treatments for my hair turned out to be: Nioxin Shampoo #4 (stops loss, does not regrow or grow new hair.), highlighting or coloring (which plumps up the hair shaft, and a layered haircut – all of which maximize thickness. HRT actually seemed to help with my hair – no change for me upon stopping HRT. So good luck, my dear. Keep us posted.
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I’m 48 years old and facing a full hysterectomy. I was placed on the patch approximately three years. The estrogen was on a post and I was at Oakpointe 075. That doctor shortly left her practice and after that I have now sought out endless doctors, bio identical hormone creams, hired a pharmacy Coach, and my body is unable to except progesterone. With hiring the pharmacy coach, I was able to get down to the lowest a mini patch oh .025 MG. I had a terrible bleeding spell back in October 2016 and now my bleeding has been intermittent for the last 4 to 5 weeks. I saw a new gynecologist after having two biopsies over the last two years. The last biopsy showing a polyp. Also, my uterine accumulation was 5 mm. The new gynecologist recommended a full hysterectomy. He also gave me the option of getting myself off of the patch, which would be lovely, or adding progesterone. I’ve been unable to go any lower with cutting this patch, without experiencing tremendous anxiety and the progesterone generally gives me severe depression. I am frightened over having the hysterectomy, because I’m not coming off of the estrogen and yet I’m wondering where initial well arrives my body. I had the tingling in the fingers for a couple of years, as well as the numbness in the legs. I feel like my appendages get more sleep than I do. Still, my focus is better than it was before getting on the hormone, I don’t have mood swings, and I don’t suffer hot flashes. I haven’t set a date for my preoperative appointment for the hysterectomy because it is now suspected that I have a kidney stone which would be unrelated. At one point, I thought that the kidney stone was going to push me over the edge, but now I realize having the CT scan today is actually buying me some extra time before the postop appointment. I keep meditating on this and something doesn’t seem right. I’m not against having hysterectomies in anyway. I’m just wondering if I’m looking at every single possible option I have here. I have tried every type of herbal supplement and I am already on an anti-anxiety medication as well as a mood stabilizer due to PTSD from many years ago. This is why I hired the pharmacy/supplement coach to assist me. If it was not for the uterine bleeding, I would not even be considering having a hysterectomy, but it times, I have had a day here or there where it has been very heavy and disconcerting. I’m told that is uterine shedding. On top of all of this, I was in a car accident at the end of November. My intention was to exercise like crazy starting in January and eat very clean foods, etc. During the accident I had three bulging disc’s and herniated disc and I’m only able to walk on the treadmill for 15 or 20 minutes at a time. Reducing the ability to exercise incredibly. I feel like I’m racing against the clock with only a week or two to figure out what I need to do. Can anyone please lend me some advice? I’m frightened of coming off of the many patch because I don’t want to have extreme anxiety, foggy thinking, her Renda’s night sweats, and emotional about this. But I’m equally as frightened of developing uterine cancer. Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Please do you remember I have seen countless bio identical doctors and paid a tremendous amount of money out of pocket
I understand all that you are going through. So many MD’s recommend hysterectomy for heavy bleeding and thick endometrium, which actually can be a normal variant of menopause. I fired two MD’s before I found one that would consider the possibility that there was nothing wrong with me. When I’d bled for a year heavily, she did an endometrial biopsy to rule out cancer. Cells were normal. I recommend you have them do an endometrial biopsy prior to considering hysterectomy – it can be done in the office to see if there are abnormal cells. If not, as long as you don’t become anemic, the bleeding is horribly inconvenient but doable. I bled heavily for about a year and a half, then it all stopped. I’m fine. Unfortunately, since the previous generation all had hysterectomies for heavy bleeding before we could determine if it was a normal variant, many MD’s simply don’t know any better. So ask for that biopsy and let us know how it goes. Also, put “heavy bleeding” in the blog search box on Menopause Goddess Blog for lots more info. Good luck and virtual hugs to you.