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why am I having hot flashes starting again five years after a total hyst?

By February 8, 2009 - 10:22am
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I had a complete hysterectomy five years ago (at age 45) to remove a large fibroid tumor and (hopefully) end my long struggle with PMS. It worked! I immediately went on estrogen-alone therapy. I gradually tapered down to .5 mg (higher doses made me feel PMSy, lower doses left me with hot flashes). I've been at this dose ever since, feeling much much happier than I ever did in my reproductive years. The only drawback has been diminished libido and vaginal dryness.

In just the last few weeks I started having frequent hot flashes and headaches that remind me of the kind I got with PMS. Is this normal? Everything has been so stable hormonally over the past five years that I worry that this onset of symptoms means something sinister. I did switch to a vegan diet about three months ago. Could that have an effect on my hormonal profile?

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Thanks so much. I think it is probably dietary, since I am avoiding soy (I'm allergic to it). I can't go back to eating meat and dairy, so I'll see about increasing my estrogen dose a bit.

When I talk to my doctor about my estrogen dose, I'll ask about the possibility of hypopituitarism. I know that during my reproductive years, all my hormone levels were quite low, to the point that the doctors and nurses treating me for PMS believed that I could not be ovulating (which turned out not to be the case, since I got pregnant twice, practically when I just thought about having unprotected sex!). So maybe that is a factor.

Again, thanks so much, you really set my mind at ease.

February 9, 2009 - 3:41pm

Hi there cyneller, I'm sorry you've been experiencing hot flashes and headaches. We posed your question to Dr. Daemon Jones, a naturopath specializing in diet. Here's what she had to say:

"In my experience women who have frequent hot flashes or increased frequency of hot flashes during and after menopause need to investigate the status of the adrenal glands. Once women move into menopause, their ovaries are no longer producing estrogen, progesterone, and androgens. The adrenal glands take over the production of small amounts of estrogen, progesterone and androgens after menopause. If a woman’s adrenal gland is working at maximum capacity (If you have a stressful lifestyle mentally physically or both) then the addition of the production of your female hormones taxes the gland too much and hot flashes result. It is possible that the vegan diet is the the best diet but it hard to tell with this brief history. I would suspect that the vegan diet is not giving you the right type of good fats and the right vitamins that she needs to support your adrenal glands and keep the hot flashes under control.

What to do about this? Get a work- up from a qualified naturopathic physician or holistic doctor using special test panels for the adrenal glands. Once you have confirmed that the adrenal gland is the source of the hot flashes your doctor will create a balanced treatment plan including nutritional support as needed."

For more information about Dr. Daemon Jones, author of Daelicious, Healthydaes, Recipes for Vibrant Living, visit Naturopathic Medical Center.

February 9, 2009 - 2:55pm
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