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Friday, 14 January 2022

Coming Off HRT

There isn't much online on how to stop taking HRT, and what to expect. So having done this myself fairly recently, after 11 years of being on HRT,  I thought I would share my experience.

I wrote a while back about how perimenopause caught me unawares, as it does so many women, and I became someone I didn't recognize. I didn't associate my mood swings or paranoia with perimenopause. To me, menopause was all about hot flushes, and at that time I wasn't getting many of those.  

Fast forward 11 years, and I decided to come off HRT. Menopause specialists say it's perfectly fine to stay on it all your life. It offers benefits like better bone health (less risk of osteoporosis) and reduced risk of having a heart attack.  

But what convinced me was the "faff" factor.  I didn't go down the private route because the HRT dished out by our wonderful NHS suited me fine. But every three months I have to go to the surgery where the nurse checks my blood pressure and weight, and the doctor then renews my prescription.

Then Covid hit, and in the first lockdown it was nigh on impossible to see a doctor or nurse. So I started buying my Kliofem from a (very good) online pharmacy.

After a year of this, they said I needed an HRT review with my doctor for them to continue prescribing. And I thought: do I really want to be doing this for the next 20 years? 

So I decided I would come off HRT and see what happens.  I consulted Dr Google and found very little advice on coming off HRT. 

The first thing I did, about six months ago,  was to reduce the frequency of how often I was taking it. I moved to every other day instead of every day. There were no ill effects and I was pleased I had reduced the dosage. This needs to be a slow process. I tried too soon to move to taking HRT every three days, and symptoms came back. So I went back to every other day.


Accidental cold turkey

How I actually off it altogether was more or less accidental. I was away from home, and although I had my pills with me, I forgot for three days running to bring them down for breakfast.  Three days had passed without any side effects, so I thought I would keep going. 

I then went to an exercise boot camp, and thought I was getting Covid because I was often very hot. I thought I was running a temperature. It turned out to be hot flushes  (flashes, as the US say).

I know there's an assumption that when you've been taking HRT for a while and you stop, the menopause will have magically gone away. But ladies, it doesn't go away. It's paused by HRT, but your original symptoms may, or may not, come back. 

The hot flushes are not bad enough to make me grab the Kliofem again.  They're fairly brief, and although I become very hot and throw off clothing or bedding, I don't sweat or go red, so it isn't apparent to others. 

I'm still getting hot flushes but they're less frequent. I've tried to take some steps to reduce the likelihood. I read that potential triggers are spicy food, caffeine, smoking and alcohol. 

Fortunately my worse symptoms - the unpredictable moods and paranoia - have not come back. I'm quite zen these days. 

I worry that ageing will accelerate, but really I just need to suck it up! Ageing is not for sissies, but the alternative is worse. I am committed to trying to be in the best possible health:  exercising, eating good foods, not drinking or smoking. 

Brilliant resources for menopause info

Podcasts:  The Dr Louise Newson Podcast, and Liz Earle Wellbeing

Dr Newson is one of the UK's foremost experts on menopause. She campaigns tirelessly to try to convince health trusts and GPs that it is ethical and sensible to replace a woman's hormones. On a commercial level, thousands of women in their 50s leave work every year because they can't cope with their symptoms and an unsympathetic workplace.  Dr Newson has a foundation dedicated to giving doctors free training on the menopause and HRT. 

Liz Earle is a health campaigner  (she is best known for the succcessful skincare company, which she sold a few years ago). Her Friday Five podcast often features menopause topics as well as other evidence-based health matters.

Television and YouTube

Davina McCall's excellent TV programme on menopause, Sex, Myths and the Menopause, is available on All 4. Davina also has some content on YouTube worth checking out, including a video where she dispels myths from the ridiculous 2002 study which changed perceptions of HRT and ruined the lives of a generation of women who were deprived of it. 

I featured the Pausivity campaign in my post here. The women behind it have been very successful in rolling out a poster campaign that educates doctors and women on the MANY possible symptoms of menopause.

Fellow blogger Alison from Midlife and Beyond has also written about coming off HRT. 

I'd love to hear your experiences of HRT, taking it and coming off it.  Or did you have an "easy" perimenopause with no symptoms? Do share in the comments. 

Sharing this post with: Top of the World Style at High Latitude Style, Chic & Stylish at Mummabstylish, #SpreadTheKindness at Shelbee on the Edge, #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, TFF at Doused in Pink, Lizzie in Lace Confident Twosday at IDoDeclaireRena at Fine WhateverFabulous Fridays at Lucy Bertoldi, #Neverendingstyle at The Grey Brunette Fancy Friday at Nancy's Fashion Style, Traffic Jam Weekend at Life as a Leo Wife 

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