"Hormone Shopping" and What To Do If Hormones Aren’t Working
Trying various hormonal options for endometriosis treatment (a.k.a hormone shopping) can cause an array of issues both, emotional and physical. Sometimes your doctor will give you a ton of options and it can be overwhelming to pick what could work best. Sadly, we really will never know which one will be the right fit. What is helpful is that each hormone can have a symptom it’s known to best help. Starting from there is always a good idea, in hopes that it can help the main issue you’re having.
The likely first step: Birth control
Most likely, your doctor will prescribe a birth control hormone, telling you to skip the placebo pills. This can help control your endo growth while also giving you a lighter period. Some actually stop having a period at all. But for me, unfortunately, birth control wasn’t enough to stop my heavy bleeding, so we were on to the next suggestion. If you also have extremely heavy bleeding, an IUD will probably be suggested. An IUD inserted inside of you and can last years, which is a bonus (along with not having to remember to take a pill each day). But what if this doesn’t slow down your endo growth? What if you’re still bleeding? These things can happen. When those two common forms of hormones, don’t work your doctor might start suggesting something stronger.
Hearing "This is your only other option!"
The most common strong hormone would be Lupron. Lupron is talked about a ton in our community, because of its side effects and controversy. I have found myself in the position (as I’m sure many of you have too) where none of the hormones are working. Therefore, my doctor has told me Lupron is the only other option. Hearing something like “this is your only other option” is frustrating beyond belief. Especially when Lupron isn’t something you want to try. Or what can almost be worse is when you do, and then come back to the doctor saying you can’t handle those side effects. So, now what? Though there are things like Depo Provera, similar to Lupron, or higher doses of birth control, it might still feel like no hormones are benefiting you.
Let's talk about excision surgery
I wish I could say there’s a hormone that at least has a 90 percent chance of completely taking away a period, and keeping endometriosis from growing at all. Unfortunately, we just aren’t there yet. Now, don’t let this discourage you, a doctor might try a few of these, and finally one will work enough to manage your symptoms. But when all of these are not enough, the best next step is talking to your doctor about excision surgery. Hormones are a great first step, a great thing to work with your doctor in trying what is available. Next is seeing what could have a more effective treatment, if you’re not responding to others.
If your doctor does excision surgery, they will most likely suggest it once you’re done doing “hormone shopping”. If they don’t, it’s time to take the energy you had in finding a hormone, into finding a skilled surgeon. This can be just as challenging as the steps you’ve already taken, but most importantly, you’re a step closer to finding relief. You now understand what your body needs more than before. With this surgery, your body could respond better to hormones post-op. There are so many steps to finding relief hormonal and surgically, so much trial and error. But relief is out there, and we are all capable of the fight to find it.
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