Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Guinea Pig... still

I posted previously here, here and here about my struggles with menstrual migraines and my attempts to treat them without using the prescription migraine medicines. Why avoid the migraine prescription? Because my migraines manifest as extreme fatigue, and the main side effect of the migraine meds is fatigue. Well, darnit, that does me no good! I want to be able to function, not be in bed all day unable to get up. Besides, the problem is my hormones... so let's address the problem rather than treating the symptoms. And treating them poorly, I might add.

So I wrote previously and glowingly about my discovery of Phyto Prolief by Arbonne. It was helping me a lot. I still felt a bit run-down after my period, but I was up and running and that was enough for me.  Until last month, when I went to the emergency room for what we all though would be a burst appendix. Turned out, my appendix was fine... what I had experienced was a ruptured ovarian cyst.

I've never had anything like this in my life. My mother has had ovarian cysts for a while now, leading up to menopause, so there is a family history. However, I thought it was strange that when I tried a new hormone cream I suddenly developed cysts on both of my ovaries, where there had never been any before. When I had my follow up with the GYN, I asked him about the cream and about the cysts and he agreed that it might be related. Crap.

Take two of these and call me in the morning. 
He recommended I try a prescription estrogen gel. He though this would be a better alternative to the progesterone cream for a couple of reasons... first, it might reduce the cysts and second, progesterone has a tendency to wreak havoc on the emotions (I didn't personally find this to be a factor, but I suppose it's worth being ahead of the curve). Another plus is that the estrogen is only used during your period, as opposed to applying the progesterone cream daily all month and twice daily during my period. Less added hormones is probably better. Oh, and the estrogen gel is less expensive, too.

This month I tried it. I went off the Phyto Prolief entirely and applied the estrogen gel once daily during my period. The first thing I noticed is that my period held off a bit longer. My cycle is usually 3 weeks, but this month it was 4. That's a nice change. Yesterday was the first day after my period ended and I did experience a migraine, but it was very mild. I had a bit of a headache, on and off through the day, and I felt pretty tired... but I was up. I was operational. I was functioning. In fact, I was across town food shopping and picking up stuff for the kids and I went to a potluck at my husband's work, then I picked up our son and cooked dinner and went trick-or-treating. I even made a late-night run to the store. I didn't feel as foggy or out-of-it as I have in the past. Was I tired? Oh yes, I was. There was a period where I put a movie on for the kids and vegged out because I was so tired. This morning I woke up slightly groggy, and I'm thinking I might take a little nap, but I think that has more to do with the baby waking us up twice last night.

So far, so good. I will be calling the GYN to find out about getting a prescription and picking up a full supply of the gel. Hopefully I will continue to see success with this. The other route he mentioned was oral contraceptive pills. I am not enthused about this one, since I have a hard time remembering to take them daily. Still, it might come to that. Anything to avoid a migraine and a ruptured cyst.

In no way does this change my opinion of the phyto Prolief, by the way. I still think this stuff deserves a look by any woman who is having menstrual migraines. The caveat I would now add is "if you don't have a history of ovarian cysts in your family." I suspect that this tendency was already genetically present and the cream just perked it up. It's entirely possible that I was already having them, they were just milder and I didn't know about them. Hard to say. At any rate, it was an experience that I have no desire to repeat. I suppose this points to the need to be open-minded and willing to experiment if you are trying to find the right solution for your health. You probably won't find the "magic bullet" on the first go, but if you keep at it you just might find something that works!

I'll let you know when I'm sure that I've found what works. I'm going to keep going with this one, but we'll see how I feel next month and beyond before declaring victory. Cautious optimism is the other thing I've learned from all this...

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