The Challenges of Hormone Therapy
Last updated: June 2019
As important as hormone therapy is, there are still a lot of difficult things about it - especially things like finding the right doses and managing side effects. For many, your endo may still not be under control even though you are taking them. It’s easy to catch yourself even questioning if they really work. Although none of these mean you shouldn’t try hormone therapy, it’s important to address some of the issues they can cause.
Doses and side effects
Doses with any medication can be frustrating. Often, the higher the dose, the more chance of side effects, and alternatively, the lower the dose, the more chances of getting the desired results. For endo, this means controlling heavier bleeding, ovarian cysts, or growth of the disease itself.
For me, I’ve gone up and down with doses and have learned that sometimes it really depends on where you’re at in your endo journey. It’s important to talk to your doctor about other endo treatments such as physical therapy or even excision surgery. Physical therapy can help with certain pain that hormone therapy cannot address. With the estrogen-filled disease gone, your hormones will be a lot more balanced. I even know some women who stopped taking their hormones all together after their excision surgery.
When you’re trying to find the right dose, it’s important to start off slow. Sometimes if your side effects come on too quickly, you will stop taking it before its had a chance to make any sort of changes. And who would blame you? That’s an awful feeling to have before you even notice anything positive about the medication. Starting slowly can help your body adjust more easily, and be less stressful. For me, stress always equals higher pain levels. Your body could easily be overwhelmed by this chemical change and leave you questioning if it’s even worth continuing.
Is it even working?
I’ve been in the position of being on hormones and not seeing any change in my periods or endo pain. I’ve asked this question to many different doctors I’ve seen. It’s one of the hardest positions to be in, especially if you’re struggling with hormone side effects. I’ve even almost had an IUD taken out because I was so fed up after months of not noticing any difference. Though it did finally take away my periods almost completely away after 6 months, many of us do chose to discontinue because of this reason. What I find the most challenging is that someone else with endo might not have noticed a difference after 6 months. Their side effects could have been worse, leading them to get off of it. With hormones, we just never know, and that itself can take its own emotional toll on us.
Finding the best treatment
With hormone treatments, we might not notice lighter periods or less pain. That being said, I do still believe that suppressing the estrogen in our bodies is can help control the disease. Even though we strive to find treatments that would fix more than hormonal therapies tend to do, we have to work with what we have. I’m hoping that soon there will be more research about hormone therapies that are more effective and have fewer side effects. Until then, don’t be afraid to switch hormonal treatments, doses, or ask about different treatments to work alongside with it. Though difficult, it's important to not lose hope until you find something that you gives you results.
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