Menopause

Estrogen, Uterine Polyps & Me

by Magnolia on January 30, 2015

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I’ve been fully menopausal for nearly 4 years now.  I’ve shared with you all in that past, that during my own perimenopause years – those years prior to my becoming menopausal –  I did not use any kind of hormones.  Looking back, frankly, it is a decision I regret.

I’ve learned a lot since then about bioidentical hormones and synthetic hormones.  As they say, had I known then what I know now, I would have done things differently.

I did decide to finally take some of my own advice regarding bioidentical progesterone when I came closer to actual menopause. For several months I experienced heavy, flooding periods with blood clots the size of flipping eggs.

Nice visual, I know.

And I knew by that time, after several years of reading, researching, studying and blogging about perimenopause, that heavy, flooding periods and blood clots during perimenopause were the result of estrogen dominance.  So, to balance what was very evidently estrogen dominance, I invested in an excellent bioidentical progesterone cream ( a brand called  Oasis Serene ) and heavens to Betsy it worked!

EstrogenProestrogenScalesChart (1) (650x349)

Within 6 months of my using the Oasis Serene  cream, I quietly transitioned into complete menopause and was no longer plagued by heavy, flooding, blood clot laden periods.  Praise God.

For a couple of years I continued to use the progesterone – though I eventually changed to Prometrium – and continue to use it to this day.  However, I began to struggle with brain fog, chronic joint and muscle pain, and vaginal dryness – all symptoms of low estrogen – and was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Since I had experienced pleasing success with bioidentical progesterone, I decided to take the plunge and try a bioidentical estrogen to see if it would help with my other symptoms.

Thus began my journey with the Vivelle Dot patch, a transdermal estradiol.

I started out with .5 mgs and bumped up to 1.0 mgs. However, I soon discovered that if I changed the patch as often as was recommended that I simply got entirely too much estrogen in my body.  I began to break out with acne – perish the thought – and my breasts would become very sore.

Always a clue, right?

So, instead of ditching it altogether, I chose to change the patch less frequently.  And that works for me.  Now, I only change my patch about every other week or so instead of twice a week.  If I begin to notice vaginal dryness occurring or a couple of other tell-tale symptoms, I’ll change it more often. But, by and large, I don’t change it very often. My GYN is fully supportive of that approach and says I should be fine as long as I am diligent in self-monitoring.  Which I am.

However.

During my recent annual pap smear and mammogram appointments she discovered a polyp on my uterus.  She was pretty casual when she mentioned it and sliced it off without much of a warning, telling me afterward, “You have a polyp.”

Uterine polyps are almost always benign – as was mine. However, they are estrogen sensitive.  Meaning, that it is very likely that the estrogen I’ve been taking either triggered the growth or fed it in some way.  Either way, it’s something I wanted to share with you all in case you are considering bioidentical estrogen.

I have no plans to stop using the Vivelle Dot Patch.  However, I might reconsider at my next annual appointment this fall if there are any more polyps.  I just don’t want to take any chances.  Not at my age.

I still feel very comfortable using the patch, and my physician didn’t seemed alarmed or the least bit concerned either.  So, if you are using the patch and have been wondering about developing uterine polyps, they are certainly something you should be aware of.

I know that many of you do not want to use any type of hormone therapy at all.  I fully understand and support you in your decision, but my position has evolved considerably over the years.  There was a time when I was supportive of women taking anything that helped them get through perimenopause.

In some ways, I am still of that position because I strongly believe that healthcare and healthcare choices are a highly personal decision and certainly none of my business.  So, I certainly don’t condemn or take a self-righteous position on any of it.  I do however give my opinion on things such as anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication, birth control pills and synthetic hormones such as Premarin and Prempro.

And my opinion is this:  I don’t like any of them and wouldn’t take them if they were the only option available. I would suffer through my symptoms before I would use any of those options.

But, that’s just me.

However, I do want to be honest with all of you regarding my experience with the Vivelle Dot Patch.  I will continue to use it until this fall.  If I find that I have anymore polyps, I will likely abandon it and search for other ways to deal with my symptoms.

So that’s that.

I’m including a section below on uterine polyps so that you can educate yourselves on what they are, how they develop, and what they mean for your health.  As always I want my readers to be as fully informed as possible here so that you can make the best decision regarding your hormone health.

If you have any questions, please ask and I’ll do my best to answer them.  You might also join us at Facebook as well.  There is always a lot of conversation going on there. 

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What are Uterine Polyps?

Uterine polyps are growths that occur in the endometrium, the inner lining of the uterus. They are formed by the overgrowth of the endometrial lining.  They attach to the endometrium and inward into the uterus. The polyps may be round or oval, and range in size from a few millimeters (the size of a sesame seed) to a few centimeters (the size of a golf ball), or larger. They are almost always benign, but can (not always) cause problems with your menstrual cycles, and could possibly interfere with your fertility.

What Causes Uterine Polyps?

The exact reason that polyps form is unknown, but estrogen appears to play a role.

thịt dư tử cung (Uterine polyps)

Who is Affected by Uterine Polyps?

Women between the ages of 40 and 50 years old are those most likely to develop uterine polyps. They can also occur in menopausal women. High blood pressure, obesity, and drug use such as Tamoxifen can also increase chances of developing uterine polyps.

What Are The Symptoms of Uterine Polyps?

  • Irregular bleeding or menstrual cycles
  • Heavy periods
  • Bleeding or spotting between periods
  • Vaginal spotting or bleeding after menopause
  • Infertility

The most common symptom of uterine polyps is irregular or unpredictable menstrual periods.

How Are Uterine Polyps Diagnosed?

If you are showing unusual symptoms such as heavy bleeding or spotting between your periods, your physician may follow up with an exam to check for polyps. They are identified by a routine gynecological exam.  They are removed by a simple cut and sent to a lab to check for cancer.

Other tests may be involved as well such as:

Transvaginal ultrasound: a slim handheld device called an ultrasound transducer is inserted in the vagina and provides an image of the interior of the uterus.

Sonohysterography is a related procedure that may be performed after the transvaginal ultrasound. A sterile fluid is introduced into the uterus through a thin tube called a catheter. The fluid causes the uterus to expand, providing a clearer image of any growths within the uterine cavity during the ultrasound procedure.

Hysteroscopy:  The physician inserts a long, thin tube with a lighted telescope (hysteroscope) through the vagina and cervix into the uterus. The hysteroscope allows the physician to examine the inside of the uterus.

Endometrial biopsy: the doctor uses a soft plastic instrument to collect tissue from the inner walls of the uterus. The sample is sent to the laboratory for testing to determine if any abnormalities are present.

Curettage: Done in an operating room, this procedure can both diagnose and treat polyps. The doctor uses a long metal instrument called a curette to collect tissue from the inner walls of the uterus. The curette has a small loop on the end that allows the doctor to scrape tissue or polyps. The tissue or polyps that are removed may be sent to the laboratory for testing to determine if cancer cells are present.

How Are Uterine Polyps Treated?

Treatment may not be necessary if the polyps do not cause any symptoms. However, polyps should be treated if they cause heavy bleeding during menstrual periods, or if they are suspected to be precancerous or cancerous. If a polyp is discovered after menopause, it should be removed.

Can Uterine Polyps be Prevented?

There is no way to prevent uterine polyps. It’s important to have regular gynecological checkups. Uterine polyps sometimes return after treatment, and additional treatment may be necessary.

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