Indiana Jones come and get me because I think I’ve found my holy grail and its name is oestrogen gel and utrogestan and utrogestan. (Okay, that’s two names, but you get my drift…)
It’s been almost three years since I was first put on HRT. Three long years of traipsing back and forth to the doctor – you can read my HRT journey here – and almost two years of arguing to get separate hormones.
But finally – FINALLY! – I got it. So what do I think? Let’s get the science out of the way first.
Oestrogen gel and utrogestan: what is it?
Basically, oestrogen gel and utrogestan is hormone replacement therapy in two separate bits: a gel that gives you oestrogen and tablets that give you progesterone (click on the links for my easy-to-understand guides to these hormones).
Before this, I was on Femostan, which comes in a tablet, and then I’ve had years of various patches.
What’s wrong with other HRT?
Absolutely nothing, if you can tolerate it. The trouble is, I can’t.
First of all, Femostan did absolutely nothing for me. Nowt. Zilch. Nada. I was still a psychological and physical mess at the end of several months taking it, scratching away at itchy skin and a ball of anxiety. The only thing it did help was my hot flushes.
This was followed by HRT patches and I quickly saw a cycle of mood swings whenever I switched to the progesterone part. This got me into a cycle of GPs prescribing different HRT patches, which all had the same result, until I was told that I suffer from progesterone sensitivity.
Even before that, though, I was advised to have oestrogel and a Mirena coil fitted for the progesterone or oestrogel and utrogestan – the gold standard of HRT. Pity my GP surgery hasn’t been told that…
What are the benefits of oestrogen gel and utrogestan?
Taking oestrogen transdermally (that is: through the skin, in a gel or a patch) is the safest form of HRT, while a micronised progesterone (body-identical, which means it is physically identical to the hormones our body makes) is the most tolerable form to take.
The beauty of a gel is that you can easily adjust the dosage up or down. That’s impossible with a patch, unless you stick on loads.
(You can’t reduce a patch by cutting it in half, by the way; the chemicals are not spread evenly over it so you aren’t getting a true 50 per cent reduction. Plus they fall off easier if you cut them. Yeah, I did it first without researching properly. Divvy!)
Regardless of my situation, however, I know women who are happy with their HRT tablets and their patches. There is no such thing as a typical menopause and the answer to your treatment is as unique as you are. What works (or doesn’t) for me works (or doesn’t) for me alone. There is no one-size-fits-all with HRT.
So tell me – is oestrogen gel and utrogestan working for you?
Yes. And no. But mostly… yes!
I started on oestrogen gel and utrogestan three months ago. I still can’t believe it. Last time I wrote about my HRT, I was unsure what to do.
HRT has never given me that boost of life I had heard about and I was beginning to think I was just a hypochondriac – something many menopausal women have told me they often feel.
And to make things worse, the coil doctor phoned up to tell my my surgery was no longer fitting coils because of Covid, which is ridiculous.
I have experience with this GP, so I kept calm and said: “That’s okay, I’d like to go on an oestrogen gel and utrogestan then, please.”
“No,” she replied. “That’s not possible. You see, you need progesterone, which is what the coil is for. You can’t not have HRT without progesterone.”
“Yes,” I said. “That’s why I’d like utrogestan.”
Sigh. “But you can’t. You need progesterone. We aren’t fitting coils, so you’ll have to have a patch.”
She was so insistent that I started doubting myself. Is utrogestan a progesterone? After all, she was the doctor – and our centre’s women’s health expert. Perhaps I’d got it all wrong…
So I agreed to being prescribed Evorel Sequi, which I’m 99% certain I’ve had before.
As soon as the phone was down, I googled utrogestan and coils and re-read everything I’d read before. Of course utrogestan is a bloody progesterone!
I called up the surgery the very next day and got an appointment with a GP I respect. After calmly explaining why I would not be taking Evorel Sequi – or ever consulting the coil doctor again – I asked again for oestrogen gel and utrogestan.
“I have never prescribed that before,” she said. “Bear with me, because I’m going to have to do a lot of checking to make sure I get the quantities right for you.”
Lots of: “Okay, so you need…” and: “And this much gel – I’m not sure how many doses these hold, so I’ll prescribe one for now and if you need more, just call,” later, I had my script.
After two years of fighting for it.
Three months on…
Disclaimer first: I’m still on sertraline, an anti-depressant that I started taking because I was so scared of the suicidal thoughts I’d had when the progesterone got me last year. (And that’s the first time I’ve ever put it so bluntly.)
Apart from that, I feel normal. Even not bad at times, actually. I am looking after myself again, with a new haircut and some new clothes, and eating better.
I’m not out of the woods yet, thought. For a couple of days per month, usually around the end of the utrogestan period or sometimes afterwards, I get hit by the black dog again and feel useless and just rubbish, really. But I’ve only had one cry in three months. That’s amazing.
I’m also due to speak to a specialist in a few weeks, so I’m hoping to bump up my oestrogen gel. At the moment, I’m on one pump twice a day, giving me 1.5mg of of hormone.
In general, most days, I feel stronger and happier. It’s taken two years, but finally I think I’ve found my HRT heaven with oestrogen gel and utrogestan.
What HRT are you on and how is it affecting you? Leave me a comment below – they help so many others. And don’t forget to subscribe to get your free 20-page guide to menopause and midlife, with all the information you need.