As I mentioned recently, I’ve been struggling with migraines and headaches for about the past week. I’m now 4 weeks after excision surgery for endometriosis and removal of my ovaries. Since removal of my ovaries, I’m in what’s called surgical menopause at age 38 since my body’s main source of estrogen is gone. To manage my symptoms and keep my uterus viable, I’m on hormone replacement therapy. I started hormone replacement that day, but didn’t quite get it right at first. I’m learning so much and making progress in healing.
I’m on an estrogen patch and a progesterone pill. The pill is supposed to be taken every day, and the patch is supposed to be changed twice per week.
Timing for the progesterone pill: Pills are easy, I thought, but what I didn’t know is that it’s important for me to take it at roughly the same time each day. That keeps the hormone levels more level in my body – important to reduce side effects and to manage remaining risks from my endo. I had been taking it at different times of day. No longer. Now I have an alarm set on my phone to remind me each evening to take my pill at the same time every night.
Location for the patch: (Up vs Down) I left the hospital with my estrogen patch on my upper arm. I have since learned that it’s supposed to be on the lower half of my body, below the waist, and definitely not near my breasts. So on it goes to the lower part of my body, generally on or near my hip.
(Back vs Front) I have also heard that different parts of the body can absorb the estrogen patch differently, for example the front of your body vs. your back. I haven’t had a chance to ask the doctor about that, but I keep putting the patch on the front to keep things level.
(Left vs Right) I also have to change the location every time I change the patch. To keep it simple, I just alternate from the left to right side of my body. Easy enough.
Timing for the estrogen patch: When I left the hospital, someone had suggested I change it every Tuesday and Saturday. I tried that for a few weeks, but I was getting migraines and moodiness. The doctor said I should be changing the patch every 3 days instead and that I should be changing it at approximately the same time of day each time. I hadn’t been paying attention to that at all.
So now I’m changing the patch every 3 days at the same time in the evening. I have that alarm to remind me when it’s time.
Dealing with adhesive from the patch: Initially, the estrogen patch left behind a very stubborn black rectangular ring every time I removed it. I felt like it was really ugly – on top of my swollen belly with its bruising and incisions, etc. I looked around online and found some recommendations that have worked out great. The best is the Tegaderm waterproof transparent dressing. It’s a very, very thin film rectangle that I put right over the top of the estrogen patch. It keeps it from forming those linty rectangles in the first place – Yay! I also found that my shea oil on a cottonball will also take the marks off if needed. Sweet.
Keeping a journal of symptoms: I’m keeping track of my symptoms in case we need to change my hormones around. I’m definitely wanting these headaches to go away, and hopefully they will with some more time. I was worried about the hormones worsening my anxiety or depression and so far there’s been only a couple days where I felt like that was happening. A couple days in a month is actually an improvement over how I felt before the surgery so I’m not too unhappy about that!
So we’ll see…
I’m changing the estrogen a little more often and at the same time in the evening. I had no idea that the hormone replacement therapy was so sensitive, but it makes sense. It’s calibrated to deliver a certain amount of hormone over a specific length of time. If you vary that length of time, you’ll vary the hormones – exactly what I’m trying to avoid.
The doctors tell me that one of the benefits of the ovaries being removed is that my hormones will no longer be fluctuating. In a stable hormonal condition, the endometriosis would be much less likely to recur.
I hope this can be helpful for someone in a similar position. It’s definitely very challenging.
Copyright Snowdroplets 2016