What Worked for Me (Finally)
I have been battling hormone hell for over four years...it has taken me quite a bit of trial/error and time but I finally have lost weight and feel much better. I hope my story may help others.
I have always been a healthy eater and very active in the gym. When I turned 40, however, things took a dramatic turn. I had a 30 lb weight gain that was out of control (especially noticeable in the abdomen). I kept exercising harder and eating healthy, yet continued to gain. After dealing with a general physician that assured me this is what happens to women when they get older and that I should accept it, I decided to take things into my own hands. It took awhile and took time finding the right doctor to help. I educated myself by reading a ton of books on hormones and thyroid and researching these topics on the internet.
Once I found the right hormone specialist for me (that took a long time in itself!), I had a wealth of tests done. First off, bloodwork revealed my thyroid had tanked. I am currently on Armour, which has made a big difference. I encourage everyone to get their thyroid checked (not only TSH, but Free T3/T4, antibodies, etc). Once I got my thyroid at the right level, I started to notice some weight loss and a return of energy.
In addition, my hormones had also tanked. Both blood and saliva testing revealed I had some issues.
Long story short, I am now on micronized compounded progesterone capsules (50mg in the am 50mg in the pm for days 14-28). I could not tolerate any type of bioidentical progesterone cream. I tried so many different doses but always had acne in response (not sure why this happened). The capsules were the only thing that didn't cause that reaction. My blood test shows I am a little over range in progesterone but my doctor feels that is fine as long as I feel well. Yes, there is a whole argument out there about cream vs capsules vs troches vs sublingual drops and which is the better transport method. In my case, micronized capsules work for me.
I take the smallest dosage of a bioidentical estradiol to help with hot flashes. My blood test shows a level in the 50's. I realize there is a large acceptable range here and some women feel better at higher levels vs lower levels.
I felt much better on the estradiol and progesterone and lost some weight, but still had some fat on my abdomen that would refuse to budge. In addition, I had no libido. My testosterone levels had been tested numerous times in the past and they were always extremely low but before I went that route, I wanted to get my estrogen and progesterone balanced first. I know you don't like the idea of women taking testosterone...but it was only when I added a small amount of bioidentical testosterone cream that I was able to shed more body fat and make muscular gains. I am actually starting to see abdominal muscles like I had in my 30's. I have no signs of oily skin, acne, aggression, hair issues, etc ., from it. My levels are being monitored accordingly. So far, so good.
Well, that's been my personal journey. The moral of the story for me is that eating healthy and working out plays a big role...but if one's hormones are off, one doesn't have a chance until they are all balanced. I did everything right but couldn't lose a single pound...it was only until I started to add bioidenticals and Armour Thyroid that I was able to make see some positive changes.
I realize what works for me may not work for another..we are all individuals. It took me four years...I encourage everyone going through this hormone jungle not to give up. Educate yourself and find a doctor you trust. Persistance pays off in the end. There is light at the end of the tunnel. And if one is looking for a book to get started, I recommend the book Natural Hormone Balance by Uzzi Reiss. I still refer back to that book - there is such a wealth of information there!