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at 47 years of age: perimenopause, 2 ovarian cysts, hair loss, excessive facial hair, lack of period for 8 months

By Anonymous August 14, 2009 - 11:35pm
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I have had regular periods my whole life. At age 46, experienced occasional hot flashes. Then at age 47 hot flashes rarely occurred, but I experienced over 8 months with no period. Next came a few days of breast tenderness and white vaginal discharge. Next, I had an extremely heavy period for 30 days. Period finally stopped (after prescribed progestin), but it continued for two weeks after medication before stopping. Ultrasound showed two small cysts, which dissolved within next two months. My doctor and I assumed this was part of hormone changes during perimenopause. Now, 6 months later - no periods have restarted. Currently feeling bloated, like possibly cysts have formed and/or the endometrial lining is building up again. Other Symptoms: Have seen thinning of hair for 8 years (after birth of second child) which continues today. Have always had mildy excessive facial hair, leg hair, and arm hair. In past year and a half, my sex drive has been much less. After reading many books and articles related to menopause, ovarian cysts, PCOS etc., I am quite unsure how to proceed. I would appreciate any guidance or suggestions. Hormone levels all within normal limits last checked. Pap and pelvic exams all ok. I am most hoping to avoid another extremely heavy period and related anemia after last episode.

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It makes me really happy that you have a starting point. You are SO right when you talk about how complex the hormonal thing is. I'm sorry that you're not crazy about your doctor but if she's the best thing going, then it may be worth it to you to stay with her. I am hoping that a new hormonal test will show her something that will help you.

Here's an EmpowHer writer on estrogen dominance:


And here's a page on it from a doctor and author who wrote What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Pre-Menopause and What the Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause, which talks about natural progesterone:


And you can read about and even order hormone testing kits on his website, if that might be helpful.

Best of luck, and come back and update us when you've learned more! Menopause is totally frustrating and totally interesting, all at the same time.

August 18, 2009 - 8:31am
EmpowHER Guest

Thank you so very much for your reply. You have given me a great deal to consider.
No, I do not like my ob/gyn who is considered the best specialist in menopause in the state of Arkansas. I never feel that we are communicating fully & I have my data together because I used to write chart notes with doctors years ago. At first my understanding from my doctor was that the cyst could have caused the month long bleeding. After the cysts dissolved, further questioning revealed that she thought the endometrial lining build up was the culprit.

After the initial research, my feeling was that estrogen dominance or some kind of hormone craziness was the culprit. I have read some of the book you recommended from my local library, but I think I should look at it again more thoroughly. I have ordered some natural progesterone a few months ago because I felt this was the most likely scenario, but I have been reluctant to start it just because I think the hormonal thing is so complex and difficult to assess. I thought - I'll do nothing but good general healthcare and see how things go. My gut feeling now is that something isn't right and I'm headed down the same path as before. Perhaps the hormone testing and natural progesterone are the first things to explore.

Lastlly, You asked when my hormones were checked and how. They were checked during the period from hell by a blood test method. Thank You Again. You were very helpful to me. I feel like I have a starting point.

August 17, 2009 - 12:20pm

Hi, Anon, and welcome to EmpowHer. Thanks so much for your question.

I'm 51, so I understand about perimenopause! And my closest friends are six other women between the ages of 51 and 59. We have known each other for a couple of decades, so we've all gone through it together -- except it's been different for every single one of us. Ugh!

How long ago were your hormones checked, and how were they checked (blood test, saliva sample, etc)? This is the first thing that comes to my mind, even though you had test ranges in the "normal" area before. Here's the thing -- one woman's normal is not necessarily another woman's normal. What's normal for YOU might have been different. (In some ways I wish we all had baseline hormonal levels checked in our 20s or 30s so we'd know, during perimenopause, how far off our own normal we actually are.)

I think if I were you, I'd go ahead and make another appointment with your doctor based on how you're feeling -- bloated and with a possibility of recurring cysts and endometrial tissue building up again. And before you go, ask if it's possible to have your hormones checked again.

You've done a lot of reading on your own, so I don't want to list websites for you that you might already be familiar with. In your reading about PCOS, menopause, perimenopause and hormones, have you come across something that feels more like your symptoms than anything else? When you had the 30-day period before, (and you get my total sympathy for that, believe me), did your doctor believe it was caused by the cysts?

My favorite reference for all things menopause is Dr. Christiane Northrup's The Wisdom of Menopause. Do you have it? If not, I want you to go to get it right away. It's thorough, easy to understand and goes into incredible detail about everything. Here's what she says about retesting hormones:

"If you're having symptoms and are actively working to improve hormone balance, I recommend double testing, which acknowledges the fact that hormone levels fluctuate, especially during perimenopause. The best time of day for sample collection is the early morning, and the best time of the month is between days 20 and 23, when progesterone levels are apt to be highest. If your periods are irregular, it is more difficult to accurately assess progesterone levels with just one sample -- another reason for double testing. With double testing, the sample is drawn or collected and assayed on at least two different occasions before treatment. (If symptoms are really severe, you needn't delay treatment. Just get another set of levels about one month after starting treatment so that adjustments can be made.) "

And here's what she says about heavy bleeding: "Many women develop heavy and irregular bleeding in the years before menopause because estrogen dominance causes the lining of the uterus to overgrow." Did you and your doctor talk about possible estrogen dominance? Has your doctor discussed natural progesterone with you, or temporary hormone replacement of any kind?

Do you like your doctor? Do you believe she is assertive enough in dealing with your perimenopause?

August 17, 2009 - 8:40am
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