At the beginning of the year I ran out of my T3 Thyroid medication, I do this every so often and think I’ll be fine and then two weeks later I’ve forgotten my own name so many times I realise that maybe I should go get the script re done. I also thought that it had been a while since I had my bloods done so it might be a good time to see how my hormone levels were.
My usual GP wasn’t there so I saw someone else. He seems nice enough and tell him that I was taking T3 and it was really helping, that I’m 44 and sometimes I don’t ovulate and I’m often tired, so I want to check oestrogen levels and make sure there is nothing obviously “wrong”. He asks me how I would know that I don’t and I reply “you know the usual, cervical fluid, energy levels, libido, body temp” He says nothing and offers me the script and the pathology form.
I don’t mention the word Peri-Menopause as I’m not really sure I want to get into that conversation.
I know I need to get these done on day 21 (this is when Progesterone levels should be rising for the final week of our cycle.)
Feb rolls around and I’m at my sisters in Canberra, then March, and well we all remember March right?!
So I find myself in May, on a Monday afternoon after clinic, it was a full morning and I feel myself crashing, I’m exhausted and emotional and I sit there in the car on the way home crying and inhaling a whole packet of m&m’s.
I’m not even sure what I’m upset about and I go home to run a bath and crawl into bed exhausted before the sun sets.
I wake up the next morning and DING light bulb moment I realise it’s now day 22 and I think I know what’s happening.
I can already feel the energy in my pelvis dropping like my period is going to arrive and I remember the pathology test so off I go. This is the perfect time to catch what is really going on. My period turned up on day 23 this month, that feeling never lies.
Flash forward to last week when I finally call the surgery not having heard from the Dr about my test results.
The receptionist calls me back after having found them and says “the ones from May?”
Yep it’s 2020 and it’s taken this long. Really.
“Oh he didn’t see anything out of order with them so there was no need to call you”
“Great so can you send me the results please”
Please know these are your results and you do need a copy of them, especially if you intend to see another allied health practitioners. It is incredibly helpful for us to give you the best possible care.
The data on most tests is pretty amazing, but you need the right set of eyeballs and a comprehensive context of your health to fully understand them.
Your practitioner is still human, please remember this.
Let’s take them off that pedestal we often put them on. (except maybe brain surgeons .. that stuff is nuts! :))
So she emails me through the release form, I sign it and send it back and she emails me the copy of the tests.
I’m looking at them, knowing the state I was in when the bloods were done. I look at the hormone levels in the next screen and I’m wondering what I’m missing as it’s obvious that I’ve got no progesterone and relatively low oestrogen
I think, it looks pretty obvious what’s going on here so maybe I’ve missed something so I email them to my colleague and friend Jess.
And straight away she’s also like” you didn’t ovulate”.
(No ovulation = no corpus luteum = no progesterone)
The piece that has been missing for so many of us is that these hormones aren’t just for our body or useful for having a easy period or making babies but this is also all about brain health and mental health. These hormones especially progesterone in midlife support our nervous system and when they are out of whack we are anxious, wobbly little insomniacs! Not fun!
I know it’s hard to hear but these levels are going to be unique to you. Someone could have the same levels as this but be experiencing hot flushes and likewise someone with lower levels than you is not experiencing them. It’s ridiculously individual.
For me these lower oestrogen levels aren’t not hot flush low, but a lot lower than they have been and low enough to encourage the body to create that belly fat (adipose tissue is another site for oestrogen creation)
They are low enough on their own to feel all kinds of out of sorts but also super high by comparison to the non existent progesterone. In some women it can be this difference that begins mid cycle bleeding and heavy bleeding in general. In peri-menopause some women experience the kind of lower levels seen in my test results here but there can also be very big swings in oestrogen throughout the month.
Without going over the top with testing tracking your cycle and noting your experience is very helpful to predict and support yourself.
All of this for my situation is called yang and blood deficiency in TCM. My period is getting lighter and lighter most months…. and the rest of me is getting softer and squishier!! Weight baring exercise here I come!
Viola this is my version of my current experience of PM!
(just quickly if you’re 25 & just come off the pill and you’re reading this freaking out don’t panic there are lots of other reasons you might not ovulate, go book in with your acupuncturist and get the support you need. It is almost impossible that you’re in PM )
And for those playing along at home below you’ll see my iron results from this and past years.
It’s not ideal but has since been supported with diet.
If you’ve read my methylation blog (please do) you’ll know the back story to this, with those low/high (H L) markers it looks like I had hemochromatosis.
I don’t but for a long time it was assumed I did, and basically it means that my iron is being “parked” in the wrong place and this (for me) meant that my copper levels were super high.
So what these test actually tell me is that I had low Iron, an anovulatory cycle, oestrogen and progesterone out of balance (enough to create emotional symptomology) and cortisol would be in the mix there because 2020 and BAM!
You have a woman parked in car eating a bucket of sugar, emotional and freaking out.
This test result and the support it offers me was deemed of no importance because most GP’s have understandably been trained to look for pathology and that generally is indicated by data that is in the extreme low or high ranges.
This is great when we’re wanting to rule out cancers, diabetes, and all sorts of other named disorders.
But health and feeling well doesn’t only occur in extremes. We begin to feel “off” or out of sorts or tired or just not quite right well before then.
Without the context (knowledge of your history) and without the accurate reading of these results you WILL be told NOTHING is wrong with you, which I don’t need to tell you leaves you feeling like you’re bonkers (correct me if I’m wrong)
Now before we get all antsy I’m not judging my GP or any Doctors, they do an incredible job! They need to know everything from why your toddler has a red toe to helping your dad refer to the best hearing specialist.
Womens health has simply been missing from much of the research until as late as the 90’s. Nope that isn’t a typo. Your GP unless they specialised recently may not have had the specific education to translate the small changes in hormone levels with what that presents as in an actual woman.
It is exhausting I feel you, but you need to keep going until you get the answers and support that you feel you need.
Remember that what these Dr’s do best is discover pathology and yay for that I say, but we feel unwell long before that.
I remind all my clients that therapists, GP’s and allied health professionals are amazing and helpful but the responsibility for our health needs to fall to US.
You know your body best and if you feel “something isn’t right” then you keep asking the questions until you find the right Dr or therapist or qualified person to support you.
Lara Briden has a fantastic article on her site about “Body Literacy” and the origins of that term I would love you read it.
The caveat here is please do not take random advice from an influencer or
Gut feelings with science always.
This also goes for treatment, what is working for me might not be for you.
I’m sharing my results so you can see just how nuanced it is and how information and self knowledge is supportive.
Peri-Menopause is not a static experience.
The levels of FSH (Folical Stimulating Hormone) which can be tested on day 3 are also helpful to indicate your waning ovarian activity.
So what am I doing as a result of this information?
This information has backed up what I had felt was already occurring. Do not discount how helpful that is, as it allows me the knowledge that I might need a bit more support at certain time of the month. It allows me to communicate with my nearest and dearest what is going on and what I need.
It supports me in not feeling crazy! If you’ve questioned your own sanity recently as a result of wonky hormones you will feel me!
Practically I’m continuing to treat myself with acupuncture, activated B’s especially B6, methylation support and adaptogens to support my liver pathways and stress response. I am prioritising my sleep and exercise in nature.
The simple things done with consistency have the greatest effect.
I have in the past successfully used chaste tree (a herb) and progesterone creams to support my progesterone levels.
Your treatment with lifestyle changes, supplementation, Chinese Herbs, Acupuncture, Counselling needs to be unique for you. At some point you might personally choose to go down the route of hormone replacement therapy.
It’s an area I’m looking into at the moment at still refer clients to Integrated GP’s who offer these treatments.
Please know I cant diagnose your results without a comprehensive consultation.
This is a conversation that I will continue to write and educate about I would love to hear your questions.
Comment on this post or head here and leave me a message.