The Process of Trying Different Hormones
Last updated: September 2019
When it comes to asking your doctor about hormones, it can be nerve wracking. Hormones can be challenging, affecting each woman’s bodies in different ways. Some women get on hormone treatments in hopes that a birth control will help slow down the growth of Endometriosis. But then there’s the list of all the different hormones that can be suggested. I’ve tried many, with ups and downs of all of them. What was most successful for me, might be another woman's worst nightmare. This is why communicating with your doctor is the best way to find what works for you. Now, unfortunately, hormones can cause many different side effects. Because of this, it can sometimes be a longer process than one would want to go through.
Different hormone options
As far as lists of commonly used hormones, there’s oral birth control, IUD’s, Lupron, Depo Provera, and, recently, Orilissa has been added to this list. Your doctor might only suggest one of those, and in my experience, they usually start with a form of oral contraceptives. When they are suggesting these, I recommend asking about progesterone-only versus combination contraceptives. A lot contain estrogen which can fuel the growth of endometriosis. It’s important to explain to your doctor what symptoms are bothering you most before you ask about the specific hormone you’d like to try. If adenomyosis is suspected, they might suggest an IUD, which can help your heavy bleeding. Or if you’ve tried a few different hormones in the past, they might try a stronger dose or a whole new type of medication.
Demanding proper information is a must. Ask about side effects for any medication your doctor recommends and also if there’s anything to prevent those side effects. If needed, bring a friend or family member to advocate for you. Trying new medications can be scary and doctors can be intimidating. Explaining your history with other hormones can be helpful too. If oral hormones gave you certain emotional or physical side effects, you might be more likely to experience them with a stronger hormone. Information about an IUD is worth getting info about too because it’s being placed in your body. Seeing as it’s a procedure within itself, it’s good to know everything about it. Making sure you understand not only the hormones used but the process of placing it will help you feel more confident if it’s right for you.
Ask about a back-up plan
Once you have information on the hormones available, I like to ask about what to try next. Being sick can be discouraging when it comes to treatments. It really helps your anxiety to go into it knowing there’s another option that can help. For example, like most, I was on oral pills to control my endometriosis and lighten my periods. But I was also on them to help eliminate the possibility of getting ovarian cysts. I found myself feeling better when my doctor and I discussed what I would try next if I continued to get the cysts. Those who have tried medications know how disappointing it can be when not only are there side effects but the drug itself isn’t helping the issue. I spoke with my doctor about how if this progesterone pill didn’t stop them from growing, we would go up to a higher dose. And thankfully, that helped me a lot.
A long process
I feel that most women need a long time to find a hormone that works. We can sometimes feel like we’re in the dark because so much information is sometimes completely hidden from us. Not only are we constantly asking our doctors questions, but we are also asking each other. If your doctor isn’t answering your questions or giving you options, it might be time to find a new one. There are many stages to hormone treatment and it’s important to find a professional that can walk you through those steps. Never forget to demand answers, do research before trying something new, and always listen to your body when it comes to side effects.
Which symptoms are you experiencing the most this week? (Check all that apply):