Well I tried. I have been six months completely free of any kind of HRT. I started weaning off my oestrogen gel and progesterone capsules in October 2020 and by January 2021 I reduced my dose to nothing. I was delighted to be dealing with the menopause the way my mum dealt with hers: stoically accepting the natural process. Not interfering with my body’s natural hormonal cycles.
And then came the hot flushes. Although that’s not really a fair way to describe what happens. They’re more like Intense Sweating Attacks.
These happen multiple times per day, starting at the neck, where I feel a sudden mushroom of heat that rapidly expands to my ears, face, whole head, and then the rest of my body. Sweat runs off my forehead and seeps out of my neck. Sweat gathers and trickles down my chest, my hair sticks to the skin on my forehead and the back of my neck, sweat pours out of my arms, back, thighs, behind my knees, elbows, shins… EVERY bit of skin on my body suddenly, within seconds, goes from a completely normal temperature to an INTENSELY sweating, deeply uncomfortable hot mess. Why? Why, body, why? What is the point of this unpleasantness? How does it serve me?
The hot flushes happen about twenty times per day and every time I wake in the night (usually about three or four times). My skin is permanently sticky, my bed sheets and bed clothes need to be changed far more regularly than normal, my pillow is often like a cold damp flannel – sweated on so much when I’m asleep that it doesn’t dry out and just gets cold.
I’ve been suffering like this for six months. I also have other health problems – two dislocating knees, a crumbled destroyed hip, and multiple slipped discs in my back. I am having a total hip replacement operation this summer. I also have frequent and intense migraines.
So I have enough trouble without sweating like an elite athlete just sitting watching TV. It’s just one deeply uncomfortable problem I can do without. And since it’s relatively easy to do something about, I finally gave up trying to be natural like my mother, and asked my GP to prescribe HRT.
I collected my first dose this morning and was so desperately excited to get started that I stuck my first patch on in a Waitrose car park. I couldn’t even wait to get home. I’ll take my first progesterone tablet last thing tonight before I go to sleep (because it can make you feel drunk). And that’s me off. Relief is in reach on the horizon!