OK, so this subject is getting more and more interesting to me, especially since I've been on both estrogen and progesterone (both natural) for the past five and a half years, and it's often recommended you don't stay on them for more than five years or the risk of breast cancer among other things increases. I found the following articles both interesting and a little scary:
I have to admit I cannot remember how I was diagnosed both estrogen and progesterone deficient...if it was based on my age (I was 42 when I had my first appointment with my current hormone doctor), or because I was diagnosed with adrenal deficiency, or possibly both. But I was put on both Estrogel (day 5-25 of cycle) and Utrogestan (100 mg, later raised to 200 mg, at bedtime, day 15-25 of cycle).
I did not have any real problems until lately but, looking back, I realise that NDT has not worked as well for me as expected, and that I need high doses of it to make it work optimally and keep my free Ts in range. A couple of years ago, I self-diagnosed with excessive rT3 levels and took T3 only for a while (ordered online), but felt much worse on that, so I guess my problem was not high rT3 levels after all.
I have since read that estrogen dominance increases levels of thyroid binding protein, and both T4 and T3 attach to it, thus decreasing the levels of free Ts available to the body. That could explain why I seem to require high doses of NDT to rid myself of all symptoms, keep my FT4 and FT3 in range, and feel truly well.
I find the information on this subject contradictory and confusing. However, from what I gather, after reading lots of articles on estrogen deficiency vs dominance, it seems no woman should take estrogen before menopause unless specific conditions are fulfilled (hysterectomy etc). I have been on both E and P for almost six years, and I am still having periods (although they have been erratic lately). I am 48.
Lately, I have been experiencing symptoms which seem to be present in both E deficiency and dominance, such as sleeping problems (waking up several times every night), night sweats, hot flushes, as well as erratic periods (sometimes coming as often as every three weeks, lasting three days instead of six or seven, then back to normal).
I do know that I was put on HRT years before the first signs of peri-menopause appeared and, in retrospect, I am beginning to wonder if that was indeed a good idea...however, back then, I did not not know half as much as I do now, and I was just grateful to have found a hormone specialist willing to prescribe the hormones I was convinced I needed as a result of my hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue.
I would be interested in hearing from as many members as possible who have been on either or both hormones, especially if you're peri- or postmenopausal. What worked for you? How long did you take them? If something did not work for you and you changed your treatment somehow, what did you change and how did it work out? Anything would be of interest, as I realise I cannot depend entirely on doctors, not even so called hormone specialists, in this case. I simply cannot see myself continuing to use E and P indefinitely...at least not E, although P does not seem uncontroversial, either. And few doctors (at least conventional doctors) seem to think you should continue to use sex hormones once menopausal.
I sometimes get the impression the so called hormone doctors think anyone over 40 needs to supplement all hormones simply because they will start declining at that age. But many of the articles by US doctors I've read on the subject claim that you can have lowish E levels, yet be estrogen dominant because your P levels are even lower compared to your E levels (it seems P levels start decreasing earlier and much more markedly than E, thus creating an imbalance pretty early on, and often years before the first signs of peri-menopause), making it hazardous to prescribe E simply because you are X years old. Also, I have never been able to fully understand which standards these hormone doctors use. Are there recommended/ideal levels of sex hormones for a given age group, or are we just supposed to take enough hormones to restore our levels to what they looked like in our early 20s?
I know I can and should discuss this with my doctor, and I will (my next appointment is a little over a month), but there is so much knowledge and expertise here that I'd really appreciate comments and feedback from members...because this is one area where I am not sure I fully trust my doctor. I sometimes get the impression they just keep prescribing hormones, just looking at your levels on a given day, but don't bother comparing them to see how they relate to each other...and I understand that is crucial when it comes to deciding whether you are E dominant or deficient (and it seems many symptoms can be present in both both cases as well, which only adds to the confusion...).