Forced off HRT at 60?

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I've been on HRT, very happily, since my menopause at 45 (I'm now 67).  My doctor is really pressing me now to come off it.  Personally, I believe in 'if it ain't broke, why fix it?'.   I am (as far as I know!) in very good health:  I walk for over an hour a day, work out, eat extremely well, don't smoke, am not overweight, I'm still working part-time, I don't have any cancer history in my family and feel full of energy and bonhomie!   The risks relating to HRT and breast cancer are now proved to be unfounded and anyway there is no breast cancer in my family.  The risk, apparently, that rises after 60 on HRT is stroke.  However, doctors also say that you are 43% less likely to have a stroke if you exercise an hour every day, which I do.  So, is it not reasonable to say that as long as I am low risk, and as long as I feel great on HRT, why come off it?  My age group are all one big experiment anyway and in America I know women can be on it till they drop.  The question is: can my doctor force me to give HRT up?

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  • Posted

    Hello groovygranny. I'm younger than you (61 next month) and have taken HRT since 1991 following a hysterectomy & oophorectomy. Over the last 2 years or so there was only 2 GP's in my GP practice out of 6 would prescribe my HRT and they were the most popular so getting an appointment was a nightmare!

    Like you I had no family history of concern & I was as fit as a fiddle until my blood pressure was raised and I decided to stop it myself. Nightmare! I suffered all the symptoms of menopause so now my BP has settled I've started to take it again. I fortunately have a stockpile due to an error when I was transferred from 6 monthly to monthly prescriptions.

    However your question is one I've been asking myself and friends who are nurses and doctors and they have all said you cannot force the GP to prescribe anything. Something I did sort of know being a retired nurse. They are so scared these days of litigation is if you or I did have a stroke they could be blamed. I have thought of asking my GP if I can sign a disclaimer. I think it should be patient choice & I want to keep taking these lifesavers until I drop.

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    • Posted

      Good for you, Matron, starting again!  Go, girl!  On Gransnet I have read nightmarish stories of coming off it. I'm just not prepared to go through that.  I have a nurse friend who actually tells me the opposite to what you've been told: that doctors cannot force you to come off medication. I agree that it's all about litigation, which is absurd!  I think you can ask your doctor if you can sign a disclaimer.  In extremis, last resort is to buy it on the internet but that's expensive, especially when you're semi-retired.  If push comes to shove, I might ask to see a specialist - especially John Studd, who is well known as a great supporter of HRT!   The first port of call, though, might be an older, male doctor; I've heard they are more sympathetic because they know what their wives are going through - not to mention, no doubt, their own interests in maintaining a sex life that is not torture for their wives!   As I have a husband who is only 47, that is also a consideration for me.  Any which way, I'm not giving up!
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    • Posted

      Interestingly enough groovygranny one of the GP's who would prescribe the HRT is almost 65 and retiring this year. I'm interested in your comment that doctors can't force you to come off medication. It's worth some research
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    • Posted

      I have been using oestrogen for more than 26 years and do not have cancer caused by hrt.  I have family members who got breast cancer and other cancer, and they never used hrt.

      There are numerous young women who have died from or have breast cancer and ovarian cancer, too young to have used hrt.

      Your family might have the genes that increase their chances of getting cancer.  It does not mean everyone else is the same.

      For some people, sweating it out never stops all their life.

       

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    • Posted

      Very sorry to hear of your familiy's experience with cancer, always tragic, whatever the reason.  It is understandable that anyone would wish to find a cause, but the fact that so many got it would point to a genetic trigger.  The NICE (institute that produces guidelines for UK doctors) updated guidelines, based on many studies, state that while combined HRT has a slightly increased risk of breast cancer, (quote) "Oestrogen-only HRT causes little or no change in the risk of breast cancer."  

      While anyone with family history of breast cancer might be advised to avoid HRT, for many of us the benefits outweigh the very slight risk.  Without HRT, the quality of my life was getting a lot worse and lack of sleep due night sweats, etc, was having an adverse affect on both my mental and physical health.  I'm sure this was putting me at more risk.  We all need to weigh up our own family and personal circumstances to make a decision as to what is best for us.

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    • Posted

      I can understand your alarm at HRT due to your family circumstances. But not all have the same risk factors. Not all are on the same HRT, dosage, estrogen/progesterone or estrogen only etc. There are risks with any drug and people have to, along with their doctors figure out the risk/reward of this and other drugs. I have been tracking my (lack of) sleep for the past number of weeks and that HAS to have negative effects as I am up all night long, every night with only about 20-30 minutes in between hot flashes that keep me up for 5-10 minutes and the cycle repeats. The severity of the flashes varies with people and while I am fine during the day with them, the lack of sleep is quickly becoming difficult to live with and affecting every area of my life. So, "just sweat it out" doesn't work for all. 

       

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    • Posted

      Hi sheryl, just wondered if I can ask you how old you are. I was happily and healthily on hrt for 12 years until I was 70. My doctor then decided she would not prescribe it again because of my age, since then I have felt awful .Juat wondered if you are still taking it and if yiu are over 70. Regards Dorothy

       

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    • Posted

      Hi Dorothy

      Not yet, I am 66 - been on it for 29 years.  When I first went to my current dr (my previous one had moved away), she was all apocalyptic about how much oestrogen I was on (patches - had to move from implant pellets when they stopped making them, vagifem and oestrion vaginal creme.) and being over 55.  (What on earth is the "magic" age of 55???)

      I reminded her that the perpetrators of the research done years ago admitted that their research was flawed, I also referred her to Dr Christiane Northrup's book The Wisdom of Menopause, and Dr Sandra Cabot's menopause and hormone books.

      My dr is good about it now although she wanted me to take Provera (a progestin) which totally stuffed up my oestrogen (it is an antagonist to oestrogen) making it ineffective.  I had two years of back to horrible symptoms until I worked it out for myself and stopped the Provera.  I did not really need it as I had a full hysterectomy.  Everything is not working exactly right now - may take some time.

      I will go down fighting and kicking if any future dr refuses to prescribe hrt for me.  They may have to put me in a straight jacket. lol

      If our body needs it, it needs it regardless of age - otherwise, as you have experienced, you will go through hell as if you had not taken hrt since age 55. Using oestrogen for a long time does not cause it, it is just that some women can do without it - perhaps they continue to make enough oestrogen from their adrenal glands to get them by, and some of us cannot.  I do know a lot of women that don't need it - they went through a very short period of menopause symptoms.

      In 2008 I was diagnosed with a prolactinoma after 6 years of menopausal like symptoms - mostly head and face sweats.  I may have been depressed and angry but put that down to living with continual heavy sweating. I was ready to jump off a cliff.  Finally another dr referred me to an endocrinologist who tested my pituitary gland hormones which were out of whack, then an MRI which identified a small tumour.  I discovered that excess prolactinoma makes oestrogen ineffective too.  The medication for prolactinoma relieved my symptoms immediately - it was heaven.  So, if after 6 years with in effect, no oestrogen, I still suffered severe menopausal symptoms, then it ain't ever going to go away for me.

      So gather your evidence and information and take it to your dr, or others.  I hope you have good luck with that.

       

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    • Posted

      Hi Dorothy,

      I've been browsing through all the replies to see if I can get some answers as to how to stop the hot flushes without HRT.

      I had breast cancer two months ago and was then told to stop the HRT which I'd been on since my menopause at age 47. I'm now 74.

      I always knew the risks and despite various doctors suggesting I come off it over the years I decided to stay on it as I felt so good. 

      Nobody has suggested that the HRT caused the cancer. I don't know whether it did or didn't, but I cannot go back onto it and the hot flushes have returned with a vengeance. I've seen one reply on here which has suggested a migraine drug called clonidine which apparently stops the hot flushes also. I don't have migraines, but I will ask the doctor about it. I don't drink caffeine as I have reflux, and I've never smoked. I drink alcohol (only socially), and I exercise regularly 6kms per day. I'm desperate to find a way to stop the sweats.

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    • Posted

      I sweat terribly from face and head (hot flushes) even though I was on oestrogen - a pituitary gland tumour opened up the flood gates.  I asked my dr for oxybutinin (patches) which is prescribed for bladder problems and frequent urination.  It is supposed to dry up excess fluid.  But the best side effect is it stops excess sweating.   I can't say it reduced any urine frequency in any case.  And I have not had any of the 'bad' side effects that are possible.

      I am talking about this in case your hot flushes also involve face/head sweating.

      Another medication, which I have changed to is Propantheline which is prescribed for spasm, cramps etc in abdomen (mainly intestinal type), but is also reduces sweating.  I changed to this for its anti spasm, ibs properties.  My spasms and cramps must be outside the intestines because there was no change in that either!!!!

      However, in the meantime, I insisted on having a double dose of estradiol pellet implants to last longer, and stopped taking progesterone which is an oestrogen antagonist, because I believed it was because I was not getting enough oestrogen thus causing the head sweats.  This has made a huge difference so I don't know whether I still need the oxybutinin or propantheline, but I am not going to reduce the oestrogen, ever.  I will see what happens when my pellets start to run out.  (I am 67.)

      As your dr says you cannot use hrt anymore - (geez, you are 74, you got that far without problems with hrt - it is said if we live long enough, we will eventually get breast cancer or prostate cancer (males) anyway), then this may be another path for you.  Perhaps the propantheline will be good for your reflux.

       The propantheline involves taking up to 6 tiny tablets a day - I take two with meals to remind me.  A nuisance if you are taking other medication too - they all add up.  But hopefully the benefits are better than the nuisance factor.  The oxybutinin patches are easier (2 per week) and their glue is much stronger than estradiol patches.

      If you go down this path, let us know how you go.

       

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  • Posted

    I'm in the same boat as you two, I'm 68 and been on HRT for over twenty years and my Doctor keeps say I have to come off. She sent me to see a gynacolegest and she changed me from estrogen pills to paches. I was so ill with the change. I started having asthma haven't had that for years, burning mouth, over sinstive to every smell and crying all the time. She has put me back on pills now but not completly well yet.

    I think I'm to old to come off it after all these years they should look at it that way. I don't want to go through the menapause at my age. It worries me a lot, I will try and get them on line pay private anything. NOT COMING OFF THEM.

    are you both on eastrgen only?

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    • Posted

      Hello Lilliepop. What a waste of a gynaecologists time seeing a patient that could so easily be managed in the community. Think your GP is passing the book and just doesn't want to take responsibility!
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    • Posted

      Like you, I've been on HRT since age 48.  I'm currently 73 and am taking the HRT-combined.  My female doctor is willing to let me stay on medication, but the group insurance pharmacist (male) is pressing her to get me off HRT.  I'm another person who believes my body has totally adapted to HRT (I take it every other day) after 25 years and going off is a bigger risk of a variety of problems than staying on.   I have no health issues at all,  exercise regularly, and lead a very active life style.  AND I'm scared to death of Alzheimer's (my brother just died of it); HRT "might" lower that risk.  I know I've got a fight ahead of me with the pharmacist, but I'm willing to change insurance if I have to.  What I'll be asking my doctor (who has requested I come in  AGAIN to discuss this) is if there is some study I can be included in that studies the effect of HRT in older adults.

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    • Posted

      Hi Heidi

      I was on HRT patches from the age of 53 until 18 months ago due to a Hysterectomy for removal of a benign ovarian cyst 6 months ago both ovaries womb and cervix taken doctor prescribed estriol vaginal cream for the stinging and burning but I ordered my patches online which I have done before at 72 feel I really need it now .

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    • Posted

      Yes yes Lillie pop as we have been taught force in numbers so ladies let's press these companies and doctors and say NO we know how our bodies are and how we feel. Update again today trI'd to get my premqui still out of stock grr please ladies do not give up

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    • Posted

      I'm not giving up either.  This week I was called into my GP for review of my HRT.  They do this every year and its not a review, its a session where I get bullied and pushed into coming off it.  Normally I sit there all meek and mild and end up weeping.  Not this year.  Thanks to this group I felt strong and went in armed with information printed off the Menopause Matters website.  I put my foot down and said no, I want to stay on it and I NEED to stay on it.  No discussion.  I came out of that appointment with my prescription unchanged and my head held high.  

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