The hormonal roller coaster

by Natasha
(UK)

Dear Wray, Your website and all the contributors' stories are my only ray of hope that I may indeed feel well again as I approach the menopause. (My GP will only give me anti-depressants because I still have my periods and no hot flushes but I intuitively feel that is wrong for me.) So I thought I should add my story so far to help others.

In hindsight I can see that I've been dealing with oestrogen dominance since my early 40s, (currently 48). I've abdomen weight gain, overwhelming carb cravings. water retention, chronic thrush for over 7 years (well permanent actually that no candida diet/probiotics/anti fungals seem to cure - I've tried that so many times!!!) and in later years crashing fatigue and moderate depression. I put this last symptom down to some very trying life circumstances but now I'm not so sure that is the whole story.

I came across bio-identical hormones by fluke surfing the net one night. I decided to try progesterone cream and from looking at Dr Lee's site, decided on Pro-Gest. I used it as directed for 2 months at the end of last year. I noticed my carb cravings became controllable again and my spots disappeared. I felt better but when the cream ran out, I hesitated in buying more as I am having financial difficulties. (It can be more expensive for UK buyers)

In the 3 months that followed without using cream, I felt so bad. Mostly suicidal and badly depressed, unable to eat healthily. My body craved all that was bad for me, in particular wheat and sugar which have always given my problems. In hindsight, I put this down to the progesterone stimulating the oestrogen receptors again. Does that make sense?

I started using the cream again last month (April) following my cycle and in the 2nd week, my depression vanished and my mind felt like I was in my late 20s. My body didn't but then I hadn't exercised it for months. :-) But I felt so excited and strong. I was easily able to give up all the bad foods, in fact I craved good foods. I was able to exercise too.

I dreaded stopping the cream but I did and 5 days later my depression/carb cravings crept back. From reading your site, I started using the Pro-Gest again anyway but it didn't make any noticeable difference. I've now ordered Natpro from Jean in the UK and I have all my fingers and toes crossed for the benefits.

Curious about experimenting with the levels, I stopped using the Pro-Gest a few days ago (maybe I shouldn't have) but what I've noticed is that I'm getting severe PMS cravings and depression as my oestrogen levels rise. I haven't yet hit my mid cycle. I feel like a drug addict needing a fix of wheat, sugar and plain chocolate and I can't stop crying all the time. What is holding me together is that I understand why I feel like this and that it will change in due course.

The small cloud left on my horizon is the concept that my body will become saturated with progesterone, causing the OD symptoms to return.

Comments for The hormonal roller coaster

Click here to add your own comments

May 13, 2011
The hormonal roller coaster
by: Wray

Hi Natasha It does sound as if you need progesterone, you've responded so well. And no, you don't need anti-depressants. We do have a page on Anxiety you might like to look at. All your symptoms point to Oestrogen Dominance. Peri-menopause is such a difficult time, as bad as puberty! When we also need progesterone to help us through the rough patches. We do have a page on Candida you might like to look at. Oestrogen exacerbates it, which is probably why you've never had any success at getting rid of it. Progesterone actually helps it. The 3 months without progesterone allowed oestrogen to rise again, hence the problems. Cravings for sugar and carbs, and wheat in particular, is often caused by oestrogen, candida is another cause. Oestrogen also causes PMS and depression too, I couldn't stop crying either. Thank heavens that's behind me! I feel you could do with a month or two, maybe longer, using it continuously. Evidently your oestrogen is high, and your progesterone non existent. We've found from Saliva Tests we run that the ratio of progesterone to oestrogen should be 600:1 and over to feel well. I've used ±170mg/day progesterone for 15 years, and have never experienced saturation. In fact I have on occasion used 2tsp/day which gives 330mg/day progesterone. When I do, I get bad oestrogen dominance, but the symptoms I was using more for, all go. So does oestrogen dominance. I think I can safely say my receptors are working well and I'm not saturated with progesterone! I do recommend using 100-200mg/day progesterone, I've found anything less merely exacerbates symptoms. But it's entirely dependant on the individual and the problems they are having. There's no rocket science to using progesterone, there are so many misconceptions about it. It can be used anywhere, as the skin comprises 95% kerotinocytes, which all have ample receptor sites. It should be used a minimum of twice a day, but hourly is fine if symptoms are severe. Jean is wonderful if you should have any queries, sometimes my answers are 2-3 weeks late. Take care Wray

May 18, 2011
the ride gets bumpy
by: Natasha (UK)

Hello folks,

I think this is where the ride gets a little bumpy. I've been using progesterone cream again for 9 days. First 3 still with Pro Gest as my Natpro hadn't arrived. That meant I started with a low dose of 20mg per day and then up to 93 and now on 166 per day of Natpro.

On a positive note I love using Natpro. It is lighter and has no smell. It feels luxurious on my skin.

Downside is that since on the higher dosage I feel an emotional wreck. I can manage the carb cravings again and I'm eating better but I want to cry all the time and feel very fragile. Other OD symptoms are tender breasts, bloating and water retention. Period due is 3-5 days but from the way I feel now it could come tomorrow.

I'm not giving up on the cream but now I understand why some women feel frightened when they start using it and do. I certainly wasn't expecting this after my euphoria in April.

Will keep you all updated as I progress.




May 23, 2011
the ride gets bumpy
by: Wray

Hi Natasha Many thanks for the update. I'm pleased you like the Natpro, we have tried to make it as simple and natural as possible. But at the same time absorb well, we know it does this from the saliva tests we run. I so wish oestrogen dominance didn't occur, I know how you're feeling, but there's nothing else you can do except ride it out. If you can afford it, as I know you are having difficulties, I can only ask you to use more. This can speed things up a bit. I would love to know how you get on, when you have the time. Take care Wray

May 27, 2011
an update
by: Natasha UK

Hello,

Here's short up date. Its been 18 continuous days of using progesterone cream and 14 days on Natpro. I don't intend to stop it until my symptoms are under control.

My period came a few days early whilst using 1 tsp per day. So didn't need to stop using the cream for it to come. & its still happening, 9 days later but very light now.

I feel flat but not terrible. Lethargic, tired and whilst I can mentally control my food cravings, I'm getting a nawing hunger pang, bit hypoglycemic which no food/meal seems to satisfy.

I'm not sure if this is a candida die off reaction or lack of progesterone. I have totally cut out wheat/cheese successfully, minimised most carbs but have had some fruit sugar, apples and some caffiene, I know all about the strict candida diets and having been on & off them so many times over the past 8 years. I'm mentally exhausted with how rigid they are. I can't face being that fastidious right now.

I'll try increasing the cream and see if that helps too. Will keep you posted. I long for the success I had in April.




Jun 01, 2011
weight loss
by: Natasha UK

Progress. 23 days constant use of Natpro, 1 tsp per day.

I've lost weight due to sensible eating & cutting back on carbs. 4 ibs in 3 weeks. Very pleased. Aim to lose approx 12 more to feel comfortable in my own skin again.

Progesterone cream has not caused me to put on weight. Wray is right, you have to use enough to stop the cravings and over eating. The cream alone won't make you put on weight.

My mood and mental energy is slowly improving too.

Good luck every one and persevere.

Jun 03, 2011
an update
by: Wray

Hi Natasha Thanks so much for coming back to me, it does help. Progesterone can upset the cycle, but it's nothing to worry about. If the bleeding should continue for so long next time, please increase the amount you're using. I have found 400mg/day will stop it, although I know you have financial difficulties. All your symptoms point to oestrogen again, plus of course the candida you're battling. One man I helped referred to candida as a monster! It is, as it dictates what foods to eat to satisfy it. I'm not convinced by the strict candida diets, it's carbs they need, ie wheat, fruit, sugar etc. You say you are having some fruit sugar, do you mean fructose? If so then please change to either xylitol (2.4 calories/g) or erythritol (0 calories/g). Both these sugar alcohols are very good sugar substitutes, although more expensive. But the advantage is they kill the bad bacteria in our mouths, in fact they are used to sweeten mouthwashes and chewing gum for this reason. Plus fungi can't live off them, as they can sugar and fructose. An apple or two is not going to harm, and if coffee encouraged candida, then I should be riddled with it! I'm not sure what foods you are eating, but they could be wrong for your metabolic type. You might like to see our page on Nutrition. There are links to three websites, giving to my mind the three best options for eating. I've discovered I'm a protein type, ie I do better on more protein than carbs. So having discovered this, Dr Mercola's site will tell you what you are, I now follow the Paleo Diet, with some of the raw food advice thrown in. This tries to mimic what hunter gatherers eat, in other words the diet we used to eat, before the agricultural revolution ±10,000 years ago. According to Cordain et al, we should never eat wheat or legumes. They were only introduced about 5,000 years ago to the UK and northern Europe, having spread from the Tigris/Euphrates valley where it all started. We are not designed to digest them, interestingly the raw food diet doesn't use them at all either, except sprouts. One thing I feel remiss about, I didn't ask you to have a vitamin D test done. You live in the UK, where almost everyone has a low level, please get it checked. I believe Birmingham Hospital now do it for about £20, alternatively see the Vitamin D council and GrassrootsHealth websites for more info. A lack of vitamin D impacts hugely on our health, one thing it reduces the benefits of progesterone. Take care Wray


Jun 08, 2011
weight loss
by: Wray

Hi Natasha This is so helpful, getting your feedback. I'm delighted you have lost weight too. You are so right, enough progesterone does have to be used. Unfortunately the web is littered with complaints from women using far too low an amount, and then complaining the progesterone causes weight gain. It can't, it's thermogenic, ie speeds metabolism slightly. Please keep an eye out for Oestrogen Dominance, as this can come out of the blue. Usually due to extra stress, if this should occur please increase the amount until it goes. Take care Wray

Jun 08, 2011
Thank you and an update.
by: Natasha (UK)

Hi Wray,

Thank you so much for both of your supportive responses. I almost cried because here in the UK I think women are particularly unsupported in this area.

I'm currently having a set back. I'm still taking 5 ml Natpro daily. & have changed my diet to be mostly low carb, high protein diet. I was already familiar with metabolic typing and like you, a high protein diet suits me better. But thanks for the links as I'm always looking for new info.

The only foods I could still cut out for candida are apples, oat crackers (no wheat or trans fats) and rice cakes, plus I'm drinking some caffeine - green tea mostly and some black tea with organic milk.

I started taking pau d'arco as an anti-fungal for the last week. I think it must be very powerful as exhaustion has set in and today I woke up with a raging sore throat. Or just bad luck that my immune system is compromised & I caught a bug.

What I'm finding so frustrating is that my mental energy has returned since taking progesterone cream but my body is saying, no, stop & let me rest. Any attempts to exercise, such as a brisk walk, feels as hard as climbing mountain. I did 30 mins yesterday & today I woke up with a sore throat. & all my muscles, particularly my shoulders ache. For a few days now.

The positive point I'm hanging on to is that progesterone therapy is preventing me falling apart & is maintaining my will power to eat well.

Thank again Wray for all your support.

Natasha.

Jun 16, 2011
Thank you and an update.
by: Wray

Bless you Natasha We all need as much help as we can get from our friends! Having been through hell and back, I really do know how you feel. Please persevere, I know you will come right. I don't think the food you mentioned will be affecting things unduly, unless it's your only food, which it's not. So pleased you know about metabolic typing too, an excellent view on diet. Your exhaustion could be due to Insulin Resistance, which I see I haven't mentioned to you. Please read through this and see if it rings any bells. And please, when you can afford it, have that vitamin D test done, a lack of this leads in IR. I've had confirmation that Birmingham Hospital does do it for £20, see here. Finally, please send me a message via this link here. It will be forwarded to me if you address it to me. Take care Wray

Oct 09, 2014
Update 3 years on and skin rash question
by: Natasha (UK)

Its 3 years since I posted on here. And I thought I'd update my progress.

1) The cream definitely works for me. My mistake (mainly due to lack of money) has been to stop/start using it over these years. And every time I've stopped, my symptoms have returned but worse. And without a supportive medical practitioner or anyone to talk, to, I've let myself slide further down each time. Symptoms have been a feeling of fragility, fatigue that goes deep to my core being, negative thoughts (but not depression because I could still feel joy for others) and a carb/sugar addiction.

It was a family member who begged me to get checked for type 2 diabetes (a -ve result btw) that got me starting with Natpro again in December. All my symptoms improved until I stopped end March whilst I had a period. (they're very erratic now at 52). Big mistake. Both mood and energy crashed so low that I had no inner strength to cope. And no support either (medical or social).

In the midst of despair in August, I started using the cream again (along with Iron - I did discover low ferritin levels during my check up). And I have kept going.

Most of my symptoms have vastly improved. I'm having a wobble at the moment as I feel a period is overdue but no blood. I long for that because late August during my last period, my mood was back to normal. Now I'm struggling again but nothing like as bad as was without the cream.

But.. there is always a but. I have to skin problems. One I'm certain is not Natpro related. Eczema which is linked candida has flared again very badly but only since eating healthily. I've cut sweet carbs and eat very few unsweetened carbs (oat cakes and pitta bread) and my eczema is the worst its been. All spots are linked to gut and digestion.

The 2nd rash looks different and has only come on 4 days ago. And is in places where I've been applying the cream. On my belly and inner thighs. But not all places where I apply the cream has the rash developed. eg: my neck or chest or face. Just in those two areas. So is this 2nd rash also candida related? Or progesterone cream?


Nov 09, 2014
Update 3 1/2 weeks
by: Natasha (UK)

I found it useful for myself to record my progress and if it helps others too. Great.

Since I posted on the 9th Oct, I continued to use Natpro on other areas of my body - soles of my feet mainly - and no rashes appeared there. So it wasn't a skin reaction to the cream. But the rashes continued to get worse. Over my torso and inner thighs, plus inner left forearm. This last spot was the worst.

By 17th Oct (Just over week after I posted here and after 3 wks of rashes, I went to see a GP and I was lucky to be seen that afternoon. Not a lady I had seen before but she was concerned by the extent of the eczema and that it was visibly weeping. She prescribed anti-biotics and a steroid cream. If the pharmacy had not been out of stock of the cream, I might have followed her advice. But instead I went home and googled the anti-biotic and thrush. Of course it was a no no.

The following day I ate refined sugar for the first time in over a week at 50th Birthday party. No alcohol, no wheat or canapés, only the chocolate mousse. It was delicious. But that night, my inner left forearm was on fire and I couldn't bear the pain and itching. I've never experienced anything like it.

From then on I've kept a food diary and any reactions I get. I immediately cut out all refined sugar. And wheat. And then 2 weeks later I'd eliminated all fruit. Smoked meat and smoke fish caused minor flareups. But on the whole a diet of vegetables, salad, pulses and some freshly cooked meat has been fine.

I've introduced virgin raw coconut oil, probiotics and milk thistle. I do still drink some caffeine. But overall my rashes are getting better.

I went back to the GP on Friday 7th Nov and she was very impressed and supportive of my approach. She thought my diet was well balanced. Though she wanted me to eat more carbs. I'm mainly using pulses for carb plus some oats. I have lost some weight but 9 lbs over 10 weeks (since cutting cakes/cookies) doesn't seem too severe. I needed to lose up to 14lbs anyway.

I left feeling so relieved and glad to have also found a sympathetic GP at last. Who doesn't think I'm a crack pot in my dietary approach.

I now conclude that the rashes were the result of intense candida die-off from simply cutting sugary carbs. It will be a while before I start on any anti-fungal regime. I need to feel much better to cope with that. I've also had mild cold symptoms - sneezes, tingling in neck glands, sore tongue. But they never develop into an infection, so I think they must be part of die off too.

I have suffered with candida overgrowth for 11 years now. And this has been exacerbated by my hormone imbalance which is finally under control thanks to Natpro. It was the only way I could conquer the sugar/carb cravings. Now I hope to get this itching cleared up. I know it will take up to a year. But hopefully this time I will make it.

Jan 16, 2015
Natasha
by: Susie

Thanks so much for your updates, Natasha. They are so helpful and encouraging to keep going.

I found it fascinating you saying you weren't depressed cause you were able to feel joy for others. That's exactly how it is for me, and has been for the previous two years while taking supps for pyroluria and treating high copper. I've been absolutely emotionally exhausted by the whole deal and suicidal quite often, but still wanting the best and feeling happy for others, though I'm so paranoid often that it's easier to not see people. But then a good day comes along, and the sun shines, and I feel I'm making progress ... and then the shutters come down. The shutters have been up a little more lately but you know what it's like when your symptoms worsen - feels like it's gonna be dark forever.

I know in my gut I'm on the right track with these but the thoughts and feelings are so hardcore that I need all the support I can get. And you know how lacking that often is. So thank you, and to Wray for your work on this site. I don't think I would have had the guts to keep on with the progesterone if it wasn't here.

May 21, 2015
Natasha
by: Heather

I feel like I've been left hanging! How are you doing now? I really hope things have improved for you.

May 22, 2015
thanks for keeping in touch
by: Natasha (UK)

Hello, Susie and Heather,

and everyone else who is reading. Thank you.

Susie I never received notification that you had posted in January or I would have responded then. So glad to be of help and thank you for letting me know. And Heather, sorry to have left you hanging.

So back to Nov last year, all was working really well until the past came back to bite me.

Have any of you read Christiane Northrup's book, The Wisdom of the Menopause? Not only do we have to take care of our physical bodies but also this is a time of cleaning out those mental closets. And I had an unexpected emotional set back.

In a nutshell meeting a girl I was at school with and seeing how differently our lives turned out. And despite my intelligence telling me that I'm fine, my heart grieved for what might have been, particularly over never had children. So, all the good work went out of the window. It was like a grip freezing me. And with very little personal support, all I could do was put one foot in front of another for many months. Work was very busy and I also looked after an elderly relative over Xmas. And kept going.

But there is good news. Grief eventually lifts. My relative has made a wonderful recovery for an 86 year old. And my work has gone very well.

Around March I got back on track with Natpro. And now I always have plenty in stock. I swear by it.

And I also discovered how important vitamin D is. I know Wray is very concerned that we don't have enough. Well the old school friend is also a GP and she too recommended vitamin D and at a higher dose than is often recommended. at 2000iu. So for only the last 3 weeks, I've been on that dose. And slowly I'm noticing a change to my sugar cravings.

When I fell off the wagon, I went back to plenty of sugary carbs and extra weight. Resuming Natpro is great for feeling stronger and helping me feel less weepy. But not so good with sugar cravings. Vitamin D seems to be the key.

I'll check back in here in another month. I need to really get back on track. I still suffered with exhaustion. And lack of motivation at times. I'm learning to be kinder to myself. To look for silly fun things and laugh more. I do recommend it. If you can find people who can do that with you, it really helps.

PS for Susie. I do believe that suicidal thoughts are not soley linked with depression, though many medics will tell you that. For me, its about wanting control in my life when so much is beyond me. There is a myth that if we can have anything we want and its in our control. I don't believe that. But I do believe that we can do the best we can for ourselves and that is what I'm learning to do better.

I also heard an interesting thought - maybe thoughts of suicide are about change. They indicate end of one chapter in life and rather than wanting life to end, its the wish for something new.

Do please contribute if you wish. And it means alot that you both commented. :D

May 25, 2015
Thanks for keeping in touch
by: Joy

Hi Natasha

For me progesterone therapy is a life-long thing, the return of adverse symptoms is simply not worth it if I stop or forget to use it. I am pleased to read just how progesterone has helped you and of course, using it correctly is key. I am also pleased that you made the switch to Natpro, it is the best. Wray has mentioned Vitamin D and just how vital it is, but I feel 2000iu's per day is still not enough, I take 5000iu's per day. You will feel so much better if you increase and please do not forget to take magnesium which is an important co-factor and helps vitamin D work optimally.

Stress is a killer and destroys both progesterone and vitamin D, both must be increased during stressful times. Once the stressful period has eased and you feel better you can reduce the amount used. If you are still suffering from exhaustion, did you have a test for Insulin Resistance as Wray suggested?

May your health continue to improve.

Oct 09, 2015
October update
by: Natasha (UK)

I'm making this update to remind us all that our bodies are constantly changing during this time. And how we manage this change also needs to keep changing. So what worked either last year or even a few months ago, might not work now.

What threw me after my last update was a 95 day gap between periods. I kept expecting one with each set of PMS symptoms but nothing happened. And during this time my use of the Progesterone cream became erratic. And basically, I wasn't using enough.

I was so busy with work and getting through each day, that life became a huge struggle. My home was in a mess and my diet was poor. High in carbs and low in variety.

When worked stopped for the summer, I started using the cream more regularly around August. And I've continued to take Vit D daily. Not in the super doses recommended here. Purely because I'm a cautious person. But I did take 2000iu for 3 months and now I take 1000iu.

I've also returned to eating a healthy diet. And now I walk every day for 40 mins. Not along the streets but in a lovely local park which is uplifting, even on the cold grey days. I'm in week 5 of the walks and my physical strength is returning. And that is exciting too. But... there is always a but.

When things fell apart last November 2014 and when my diet and ability to look after myself slipped back to bad ways, my weight crept back up. For me, those extra 14lbs feel like twice this amount. And I hate seeing my middle aged body.

As I have no back-up medical help, its all down to the internet and what to believe. Last year, as soon as I was back on the Progesterone cream, my sugar cravings subsided and I was really able to cut back on carbs. And I slowly lost about a 1lb a week and I got back to a weight that was fine. It was 7lb over my younger weight but I felt so much better. Even sexy again.

This year, the routine from last year is not working. I've been eating well for about 2 months. Though probably still too many carbs. And walking daily for 5 weeks, and I haven't lost 1lb. I tried to buy clothes yesterday but the sight of my body in the changing rooms was too hard to bear.

I've even been doubting the Progesterone cream and reading the discussions on here. And then this morning I found this piece of information on site about skin changes during perimenopause.

A doctor Diana Howard says that oestrogen stimulates FAT DEPOSITS all over the female body as oestrogen levels drop. Often concentrated on abdomen, buttocks and thighs. And a loss of fat in face area and around breasts causing skin to sag.

And there for me is the proof. Its not progesterone that is making me fat. So I need to use more for a while to get my body back in shape. And think too, about insulin resistance.

So I hope this helps those who are struggling. And thanks for reading.


Oct 11, 2015
October Update
by: Joy

Hi Natasha

Thanks for the update, it helps others too. So happy that you have changed your diet, carbs, wheat etc they are really not good for us. I understand that you are a cautious person, but I really do feel that you should increase your Vitamin D3, you will notice a massive difference if you do.

As for your comment about progesterone NOT causing weight gain ... whoop whoop, if only others would see and understand that too. Progesterone is a diuretic, it can’t cause weight gain, yes it will stimulate estrogen if not enough is used and that is where the weight gain problems arise. Estrogen causes weight gain, it is a mitogen causing fat cells to proliferate.

Onwards and upwards Natasha.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Progesterone levels.


Search over 7,500 pages on this site...