We are getting a lot of queries from women who have been taken off HRT by their doctor or have decided to do it themselves and are finding things really tough. Menopause symptoms which they thought would be a thing of the past often resurface with a vengeance and they are at a loss as to what to do.
To get a better understanding as to why this is happening we need to look at what exactly HRT does.
Many women are under the impression that HRT is a miracle drug that will stop the menopause in its tracks and that they will emerge on the other side symptom-free and feeling wonderful. In reality, all HRT does is provide the body with large doses of hormones that trick the body into thinking that the menopause is not happening. Your own natural levels are still falling throughout the menopause but the HRT masks this.
Many women do find HRT helpful
If symptoms are severe, then HRT can be helpful because it is replacing the declining levels of their natural hormones; but the problem arises when coming off the HRT.
A natural menopause takes about five years for the hormones to finally reach their new low levels and during this time the body gradually learns to balance itself and gets used to having less.
When you stop HRT, especially if it is done overnight or too quickly, your hormone levels fall from up high to really low within a very short space of time. Your body can struggle to adapt quickly enough to this, and a whole range of menopausal symptoms can come back. You are, after all, going through another menopause – albeit a very quick and sudden one!
So what can you do if you want to come off HRT
- If you have recently come off HRT and are really suffering, it may be best to ask your doctor if you can go back on a low dose just until your symptoms resolve, then start to come off again very, very slowly.
- If you came off HRT years ago and are still experiencing symptoms then you could try a natural, gentle source of oestrogen to help gently raise the levels of this hormone in your body, but without giving the hormones an unnaturally big boost, as with HRT. This can help to reduce the symptoms without any drama. A soya isoflavones supplement, such as our Menopause Support would therefore be a suitable option. I would also recommend doing some adrenal support work alongside this.
- If you wish to come off HRT, or your doctor tells you that you have to stop, then take a few months to strengthen the adrenals –as above – first, then come off as slowly as possible, preferably taking 6 months to a year – remember it takes about 2 years for your body to do it naturally!
- The more you support your body with good nutrition, sensible exercise and minimum stress, in general, the easier it will be for your body to cope with this change.
- Think about getting some acupuncture: it seems to work really well for balancing the hormones and body at this time.
- If, well after the menopause has ended, you start to develop menopause symptoms there may be other causes such as stress, low iron or vitamin D levels, or low thyroid function, so it is important to get this checked out by your doctor.