Hello, how are you? I have quite honestly been feeling utterly rubbish! Emotional and anxious ... the past 3 months I have been in a gradual decline of returning menopause symptoms, but it took me a while to realise something wasn't right! It's only when you lose something you realise just how important it was! I had been successfully on a steady dose of Oestrogel (4 pumps) since 2019 after I spent 2018 feeling a bit fed up and working out that I was very sensitive to progesterone and having to navigate my options, but ...
The first really obvious symptom to return was a frozen shoulder* (also known as adhesive capsulitis) but now looking back I can see that other symptoms were lurking too, but typically like most menopausal women I didn't link them all together. They included a return of sore, dry eyes, dry skin, heart palpitations, anxiety, brain fog, low mood, volatile emotions, serious overwhelm and lack of focus.
Finally I made an appointment to see my GP and she requested a blood test. My results confirmed what my symptoms had been shouting at me for weeks but I had ignored. My oestrogen had dropped to 97 - the ideal level is between 400 and 800. No surprise I was feeling rubbish then!
*Although frozen shoulder isn't listed as a symptom of menopause, from talking to other women and listening to their experiences, I am absolutely sure it is, and my doctor agrees!
Oestrogel or Sandrena
I visited my private consultant in London on 21st January and due to the difficulties in obtaining Oestrogel he suggested I might like to swap to Sandrena. Perfect I thought! And off I went to pick up my prescription, smug that I had an uninterrupted supply of my beloved oestrogen! At first I was delighted, Sandrena comes in small sachets, it was easy to apply, less messy, dried faster and my aura headaches disappeared. I wrote a blog post about HRT Gel Reviews and thought I was sorted.
But it appears that my enthusiasm was short lived and over the next few months, the oestrogen in my body disappeared and I was feeling nothing short of rubbish! My shoulder was so sore it was exhausting to do anything physical, my mood was so low I felt that I couldn't cope with everyday life, my emotions were all over the place but the overwhelm and brain fog was off the scale and getting unmanageable. And I had never had anxiety in this form before, the heart palpitations took over, day and night.
It was such a relief to get my blood test results and be told that 97 was exceptionally low and that clearly Sandrena wasn't working for me, my body obviously does not absorb this particular gel. I had been in this position before when I first started HRT and was prescribed the patches, similar thing happened, my symptoms did not go away and it was concluded that I do not absorb oestrogen from the patches.
I have been back on Oestrogel for 4-5 weeks now and very very slowly I am seeing an improvement in my symptoms. I am on 4 pumps per day and I decided to split my dose, to 2 in the morning 2 in the evening. I am not there yet - life is still challenging me. This past weekend, the long Jubilee weekend, I was still pretty debilitated from the anxiety.
But now that I look back over my list of symptoms I can see there are improvements, my eyes are no longer sore and watery, my skin is less dry, my focus is returning and my mood is beginning to lift. I am fighting back! My frozen shoulder has now had a steroid injection and I am waiting to see the physio to help me with doing the right exercises.
I hope to be on HRT for the rest of my life!
What I learnt , if I was ever in any doubt, is that I do need oestrogen to feel like me. That I am not willing or ready to live without this essential hormone. I have always said I plan to be on HRT for life. I want the protection oestrogen provides ... from heart disease and possibly dementia and from brittle bones. But I also want to have healthy hair, strong nails and healthy skin, I want to feel like I can cope with life, that I can get back up when challenges knock me down a bit. That I can continue to look after my family and my elderly parents. That I can be strong, resilient and feel young! I am not afraid of ageing but I do want to feel my best while I do it!
I came off my testosterone when I learnt that my oestrogen was too low, Any testosterone is converted into oestrogen if that is what you body needs. So I knew there was no point in taking it while I was so depleted of oestrogen. But I will be reintroducing it in the coming weeks, I find it really helps me with brain fog, concentration and yes libido too!
Oestrogel shortage in the UK
It does seem that the oestrogen supply problem is slowly easing, I don't think we are back to normal yet but we are getting there. I certainly got my prescription fulfilled with no problem. The Boots Prescription Checker is a great online tool if you are having issues!
I am sure Sandrena is successful for many women but if you are taking it and don't feel that your symptoms are getting better or you have swapped to it and are still feeling rubbish, then it may be worth checking your oestrogen levels or chatting to your menopause specialist for a review.
Reflecting back on 2 years of a pandemic
After the challenges of the last 2 years, yes pandemic I am referring to you, I really did not need this to derail me. I thought things could only get better! I was looking forward to a normal summer! When I look back and reflect on life since March 2020 I cannot quite believe what has been happening and still more keeps coming along to challenge us; the war in Ukraine, the ongoing squabbling in Government, the cost of living crisis and having had a wonderful holiday in Sri Lanka in 2018, I am horrified to read about their current economic crisis too. Sri Lanka rely heavily on income from tourism and the pandemic stopped all travel but now they are unable to accept visitors due to this new crisis. It is devastating and a huge worry in a country that already has a vast number of people living in poverty,
I think we all need to start being more honest, and learn skills to strengthen our resilience, we can't keep acting like life is perfect when it isn't. I am determined to empower myself to take responsibility for my own happiness ... to believe that I can cope. I have such a lot of love and empathy to share with others but some days it feels like a mountain to climb, I guess we need to remember to put our own oxygen mask on first! And talk! Open up and be more honest.
Just writing this blog post feels positive, my focus and confidence have been so battered in the last few weeks, I have really doubted myself and my abilities.
So take my oestrogen away at your peril! I am hanging onto it, even if I have to fight, kicking and screaming. Fortunately the tide is turning and there is more knowledge about the huge benefits or replacing our lost hormones (with natural body-identical oestrogen and progesterone). We can have it until we die! And it is never too late to start either, don't be put off if you are over 60+ just find the right advice and go for it.
Do visit my Menopause Resources page where I have shared links to the best information I have found during my own research.
I love the message from Dame Deborah James 'Rebellious Hope' - how can I possibly complain when she is fighting so hard for every extra day with her children, her husband and her family. The problems in the world around us do make us realise how lucky we really are.
I have lots to look forward to and get excited about ... this week it is my wedding anniversary and we are going up to Bath to see our daughter, it is the Norland College Heritage Day and we will be able to see all the work they have completed over the last three years.
So a final word of wisdom ...
“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.”
― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose
Did you miss ...?
World Menopause Day 2019 | 10 Tips for Managing Menopause
The best duvet for menopause and night sweats
The benefits of radio frequency treatments for skin tightening and skin rejuvenation
Disclaimer: this is my personal experience of HRT, I am not medically qualified in any way but I am happy to answer any questions or point you in the right direction for further advice.
Welcome to Fifty & Fab, a lifestyle blog to inspire you. I am a blogger with a passion for writing about health, menopause, fitness, beauty and style with a focus on the over 50's.
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Hi, I’m Michelle and my blog Fifty & Fab is all about my journey into and through my 50s. I started this blog in 2016 with the purpose of helping other women at this stage of life. I’m delighted that my blog has grown to over 13k visitors per month. Visit my Work with Me page and request my Media Kit for details of product reviews, blogging services and social media content creation.
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