Rant 65 October 2012: Pray for Mojo

October 14th, 2012  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  42 Comments

I sat in my therapist’s office and cried. Through blubbery, huffing sobs, I tried to explain what was wrong.

I’ve lost my mojo.

The therapist, a stunning Frenchwoman who looked like a 50ish Brigitte Bardot, furrowed her delicate swooping eyebrows. What eez zees sing, ‘mojo’?

You know. Zest. Vibrancy. Juiciness. Feeling like a superstar in my skin. Wiggling it, just a little bit.

Ah, she said. And waited. Behind me, I could hear her dog, a petit toy poodle, sighing quietly in his soft fluffy sleep. (Of course. What else would a middle-aged Brigitte Bardot own?)

I hate when therapists wait. They know that if they give you enough rope you’ll hang yourself. (My husband is a jerk… [pause] … well, now that I say that, I realize I’m actually an insensitive bitch. Stuff like that.) They wait to allow the words to roll out of our mouths like fat, sizzling, self-incriminating marbles, burning our lips as they burble and dribble down our chins. As soon as we’re half way through a sentence we know we’ve just uttered some dumbshit fib from the deepest recesses of our tantruming toddler brain. But our therapists wait, so we have to finish the job.

She leaned forward in her chair. The leather creaked slightly. A strand of blond hair fell forward. She brushed it away with a red fingernail attached to a bejewelled finger. What makes you sink that you should have zees ‘mojo’ now?

Uhm, well. Huh.

I used to have mojo. (I think. We are all revisionist historians.)

When was zees?

Uhh. I’m stumped. Did drunken groping and partying in undergrad count as mojo? Did sloppy misfired lip-squashing in high school count as mojo? Did stuffing my ass into skintight jeans at 12 count as mojo? Did wanting to punch the world in the face count as mojo?

Crap. I don’t even know what mojo is or if I ever had it.

I try to recover the sinking ship of my self-concept. I feel like I used to… I feel like I once was… I feel like I had…

She smiled a smile of sexily-slightly-imperfect teeth between two slashes of red lips. Her perfect cheekbones made twin apple-lumps on either side.

You feel like you used to… Yet you are no longer zees person.

*gong*

I. Am. No. Longer. Zees. Person.

Holy fuck.

If you’re of the Buddhist persuasion, this comes as no surprise. Impermanence is your game.

Buddhist joke:

Q. Why don’t Buddhists run?

A. Because where they are right now is as good as anything else.

Some months later I sat in my doctor’s office. She is similarly sexyfabulous. She is — no shit — an actual rock star. Like gets on stage, plays guitar rock star. She squinted at my blood tests. Yup, the ovaries have left the building.

It’s funny, because I wrote about this in 2010. And yet I never really did much about it. I took hormones for a little while, then quit. Because I felt like a failure. Because deep down I’d still bought in to that line of crap we feed each other in the fitness industry: If you just try hard enough it will all work out for you.

Nope.

So I walked around with a kwashiorkor belly, brain-blasting 4 am wakeups, vibrating anxiety, and cyclic homicidal rages for 2 years after I figured out part of the puzzle, thinking, Why do I suck so bad? Why am I failing at fitness? Should I eat more X? Should I eat less Y? Should I do more Z training?

I visited naturopaths. I considered two-a-day workouts. I got acupuncture of both the sensible sports medicine and New Age woo-woo variety. I did more core work. I tilted my pelvis fore and aft. I tracked my eating. I quit tracking my eating. I ate everything. I ate nothing. I ruminated and obsessed. I tried on ill-fitting pants and cried. I suddenly understood caftans and elastic waistbands.

Shit, I even let myself get talked into reiki.

Irrelevant. I stayed the same. I still wanted to kill everyone and my belly looked like a turtle strapped to my ribs. The 10 lb that mysteriously appeared in 2009 stayed put. I felt shame. I was an impostor.

I was still cycling, but with no actual periods. It was like my body was taunting me. Wanna period? Can’t have it! Yoink!

Doctors had never heard of this mysterious phenomenon, but I heard from dozens of women my age who were doing this spectral uterine routine. It was the invisible Great Menstrual Pumpkin.

I thought about hormones but avoided them at the same time. What if I got face cancer at 62? What if my breasts fell off? What if the hormones never worked for me anyway? Would I be a failure? Ruminating endlessly, I lived in a world of uncertain, probably horrible, outcomes. Mentally I was 70 years old and dealing with apocalyptic disease.

This past September, I cracked.

First, for my 39th birthday I made a deal with myself. No more self-criticism. Ever. I would love myself fiercely, warts and all. This was an act of epic sanity, especially considering what happened next.

One week later, plunged into the depths of pre-imaginary-menstrual-syndrome despair, I croaked helplessly to OMGBFF: I want to crawl. Out. Of. My. Skin. This is not a metaphor. It literally felt like my skin was too tight. Like a too-small pair of fishnets. A psychic sausage casing.

One day during this period (ha), cycling home on a beautiful sunny day, I felt rage so intense that I could have punched an old lady in the gut. But I couldn’t even come up with a fake excuse for it like That guy cut me off or Look at your stupid face, hipster. (Previously, I’d had one of these inner volcanoes while on a trip with OMGBFF. She was so not doing anything to provoke me that she was actually sleeping at the time. The best excuse I could come up with was that she was sleeping like an asshole. “Sleeping like an asshole” has since become our shorthand for bizarre emotional over-reaction.)

I was truly angry at nothing. Floating in a nebula of fulmination. With stabbing, twinkling little starlights of anxiety.

This had to end. I had to face reality. Quality of life right fucking now trumped potential 62-year-old face cancer.

Thus my defeated trip to Dr. Rock Star. You have no progesterone, she said. And your body won’t lose weight because your fat is your only source of estrogen right now.

The world made a gentle ka-thunk as it slipped elegantly into place.

It’s not my fault.

It’s not my fault.

IT’S NOT MY FAULT.

All the self-criticism. All the trying so goddamned hard. Bullshit. Wasted energy.

Dr. Rock Star is a bit nerdy, in all the best ways, so she tried to cheer me up by sharing some of the interesting properties of the bio-identical progesterone she was about to prescribe, the progesterone that was about to calm my panicked, raging hormonal ocean.

It’s a gelatin oil capsule, so you can actually use it as a suppository, she explained. If you’re having a really bad day, you can always shove one up your ass!

So noted.

I went home and took my first bio-identical progesterone pill. (FYI: In my mouth. Not my butt.) Within 2 hours, a wave of peace crashed on to the battered beach. Then another. And another. A deep, euphoric shudder of Aaaaahhhhh rippled and flowed through my entire system.

I woke up the next morning 3 lb lighter. The next morning, 3 lb lighter again. 6 lbs of water. Gone. Just gone. Litres of water that had been sloshing around my innards, flushed.

My belly looked astonishingly… normal. Not riptshizzled cover-mag, not “perfectly” (barf) boy-flat, just stunningly, beautifully, gorgeously, average-womanly, normal.

The upward pregnancy-pressure on my diaphragm that sometimes made me breathe in little huff-huff-huffs, the stuffed-sausage sensation, gone. Later, I read that progesterone acts on aldosterone, a hormone that’s part of our bodies’ water regulation system.

I’d been walking around with a goddamned medicine ball in my guts for years. No wonder I felt so shitty.

I would have cried with relief and righteous anger if I hadn’t felt so groovy.

I made peace with my new body size and sensations. My ass fat is the only thing standing between me and an estrogen desert right now. I loved all over my hard-working adipose. Thank you, I breathed, quietly, into the ass fat. Into my soft belly. Into my silky, smushy, subscapular skinfold. Thank you for quietly making my hormones in my time of need. I am sorry I was angry with you. Let’s never fight again.

Ass fat smiled, knowingly. Smugly. Handling its bidness like a boss. Is there anything the posterior chain cannot do?!

I bade a sad goodbye to my ovaries. They waved, from a distance. Sorry we couldn’t stay longer. But the universe had plans for us. We’re off to get reincarnated as half a lung and a cow shinbone! Godspeed, little doodles. I shall miss your shenanigans.

I am no longer zees person.

Whatever person I ees now, I am not sure. All I know is that I’m fucking done with beating myself up and self-loathedly squeezing into my jeans from a decade ago, crying while I felt the waistband slicing into my bellybutton.

I threw that shit out. All of it. It felt good, like tossing out a fugly 9th grade yearbook photo or some expired food in the back of the fridge.

Anyway here is the most important point. If you’re feeling fucking crazy right now, this may be you too. We hear a lot about declining estrogen; much less so about declining progesterone. It’s very common for progesterone to drop lower than estrogen, leading to estrogen dominance, aka A Big Sweaty Plate of Bloated and Insane.

Before you make any sudden moves:

  • Go and get your sex hormones tested. While you’re at it, test thyroid and adrenal function too.
  • Talk to your doctor or ND about bio-identical hormones if you need them.
  • Do not put synthetic shit into your body. It doesn’t work the same way. When it comes to molecules, little deviations make a big difference. If it’s appropriate for you, you’re looking for 17-beta estradiol and progesterone. Accept no substitutes nor similar-sounding molecules.
  • Look for transdermal formulations where possible — these don’t go through the liver and may be easier on the body.
  • Look for the lowest possible dose. Sometimes a little bump is all you need. My progesterone formulation has a half-life of 35-55 hours, so I don’t take it every day. And I only really need it for about a week per cycle.

And you may need to find your own Brigitte Bardot to check your headspace too. I am told that the late 30s and 40s are a time of great power for women. Declining hormones tear veils away from our eyes. It is the beginning of when we learn to get over the crap we’ve been spoon-fed, to feel some rumbling righteous anger, and start loving ourselves.

We may be crazy during this time, but it’s crazy like a fox. Anxiety and anger are not just random hormonal effects; they can also be “dashboard indicator lights” that tell us when systems are out of order. Yes, I was angry at weird random shit. But I was also angry at things that I needed to be angry about — stupid sacrifices I’d made, ways in which I’d let myself get lost, dropping my internal compass somewhere in the woods.

Anger is about boundaries and needs. If our boundaries are being invaded or we are not sufficiently in tune with our own needs to keep those boundaries clear, we get angry. This is right and good and healthy. This is our fierce female self protecting us.

To get you started with your own righteous anger, here are some ways in which the conventional narrative is bullshit.

1. Menopause doesn’t just magically appear when we’re 50. Our bodies are diverse and the 21st century fucks with them. If you’re in your 30s or older — hell, for some women, even in their 20s — and weird shit is going down, pay attention.

2. Working hard, making smart food and exercise choices, getting real with your behaviour, and doing your best is important. But hormones are like unto gods when it comes to things like body composition and moods. They are powerful. If your hormones are fucked then your body will be fucked, no matter how hard you try or how much you want it otherwise.

3. Self criticism doesn’t do jack shit. It makes it worse, in fact, because then your body gets stressed and shuts down hormone production even more. Vicious cycle! Ha ha ha! Take all those fitspiration posters and throw them the fuck out.

4. Many doctors don’t know what the fuck is going on. Luckily my Dr. Rock Star is awesome. But you may need to make a pest of yourself with asking tough questions until you get some answers. I visited a gynecologist and endocrinologist — both of whom had never heard of what I was dealing with. Srsly?

5. Sometimes you have to bust out the big guns. If you can fix your wack shit with a few supplements, great. High fives! But that may not be possible. Modern medicine does have some wonderful inventions.

6. Low carb eating may not be for you. If you’re an active woman, you may need a decent baseline of carbs to help with hormone synthesis. What works for other people may not work for you. (More on this — and thank heaven for Stefani Ruper!) I felt worlds better when I quit following nutritional dogma and fear-based eating, and started working with the signals my body was giving me.

The antidote to both anxiety and anger is meaningful, purposeful action. Learn from my errors. Take action now, in your own life, if you need to. Emotion is an action potential, not an embarrassing side effect.

Start sensing in — viscerally — to what you are experiencing. Be present with it. Stop thinky-braining yourself. Feel what is going on. You know when something is wrong.

Whatever you decide, whatever path you follow, know this: You are not crazy. You are not bad. You are not alone.

Godspeed, little doodle.

 

Responses

  1. Boris says:

    October 14th, 2012at 10:00 am(#)

    Good one Stump!

  2. deb says:

    October 14th, 2012at 10:34 am(#)

    Oh man, I can relate. Only it hit me about 51. 2 years in, yeah, it keeps on changing like a shape shifter and I too have learned to just accept it. And say goodbye to my former waist. Still got some mojo, just a little different flavor.
    xo
    deb

  3. Sarah says:

    October 14th, 2012at 10:55 am(#)

    As a fellow 39-year-old, I can entirely relate to this. I have a different wave crash- my progesterone goes HIGH then in a matter of about 36 hours at the beginning of my period drops LOW. It looks like a double black diamond ski run. Ah. I hide that day. AND another note worthy item- low testosterone (women need 50-150, men are in the several hundreds) has been linked to migraines that are linked to the menstrual cycle. I used to get a migraine EVERY month, and now am on a tiny dose of testosterone- no more pain! Much better quality of life! I, thankfully, have a wonderful doctor as well. So glad you are feeling better!

  4. Melissa says:

    October 14th, 2012at 11:20 am(#)

    Thanks for sharing your intimately personal and honest story.

  5. Kate says:

    October 14th, 2012at 11:29 am(#)

    Today, of all days, when I’m ready to punch something, I come across your blog post. Thank you, thank you, thank you! A doctor’s appointment is in the making.

  6. saretta says:

    October 14th, 2012at 11:53 am(#)

    Well, thank goodness you got THAT figured out! And thanks for writing about it :-)

  7. LCmomof3 says:

    October 14th, 2012at 12:16 pm(#)

    Thanks for this. I am 36 and about to put myself into menopause (hysterectomy next month), and I have been adamantly against taking hormones… I realize that I need to gather all the info on both sides before making up my mind and that, similar to every other aspect of life, there is no single. “Right way”

  8. Kirstin Dragasakis says:

    October 14th, 2012at 12:50 pm(#)

    Wow. I think you just wrote this about me. Can’t wait to see my new MD/naturopath in 2 weeks!

  9. Ammi says:

    October 14th, 2012at 1:20 pm(#)

    Thank you so much for sharing this. And I’m so glad you reached the answer. It is all too easy to blame yourself when the “issue” is emotions and you’re right that they are often an indicator of something else. I’ll be keeping a better eye on myself going forward thanks to your timely reminder. Oh and, yes – totally agree on the carb issue. Everyone has the right level for them. Though I think there is an argument to spent a period of time low carb if you are coming from decades on a standard Western diet. That way you get used to using fat as an energy source but then can have the flexibility to have the right amount of carbs for you depending on what you are doing from day to day. Would you agree, or do you think that first adjustment isn’t necessary? I just can’t see any other way to persuade people’s bodies to stop relying on the roller coaster sugar ups and downs without removing them completely for a while.

  10. Tricia says:

    October 14th, 2012at 3:46 pm(#)

    Been there. Done that. Welcome to the club:-)

  11. Mrs E says:

    October 14th, 2012at 3:47 pm(#)

    “I am told that the late 30s and 40s are a time of great power for women. Declining hormones tear veils away from our eyes. It is the beginning of when we learn to get over the crap we’ve been spoon-fed, to feel some rumbling righteous anger, and start loving ourselves.” This made me spit my tea out when I read it. Pissed off husband who isn’t coping well with my new found strength (mental and physical)at age 38. ‘Eff Him. Love love love this post.

  12. Mistress Krista says:

    October 14th, 2012at 3:53 pm(#)

    @Ammi: Really good question. It’s not even so much about the absolute amount of carbohydrate in many ways, because the type of carb is so important as well. There is a world of difference — as far as our bodies are concerned — between slow-digesting, high-fibre, unprocessed plant carbs (say, lentils or sweet potatoes) and refined, processed, acellular carbs.

    And it’s not either-or. There isn’t an absolute cutoff. Some women may thrive on amount X, while other women may thrive on amount Y. Much depends on one’s unique metabolic makeup and other factors such as activity, which dramatically changes the way our bodies respond to nutrients.

    There is another piece that I did not mention, which is that when your body is under stress and adrenal function compromised (which is the case for many women in the early phases of this), you cannot mobilize fat as effectively, and your ability to use cortisol appropriately is also compromised. Going further low carb actually makes it worse.

    So what we are really looking at is a fairly complex equation. There is no one right answer for all women.

  13. Mandy says:

    October 14th, 2012at 4:12 pm(#)

    I love you Krista.

  14. Nada says:

    October 14th, 2012at 5:37 pm(#)

    Today I had a complete and total hormonal meltdown. I was lucky I had a realy good friend to talk me off the ledge.

    Well it started last night when I couldn’t figure out where I had parked the car. (I’m blaming that on hormones as well)

    The rage started and never really subsided and today I might have stabbed my friend in the eye over a Facebook post.

    So I’m reading this and bawling.

    First thing tomorrow I am booking an appointment.

    Thanks for an eye opening article.

  15. Ingrid says:

    October 14th, 2012at 6:12 pm(#)

    Fabulous post Krista! I could have been reading about myself. It all started for me at 44 and my doctor(s) insisted there was no point testing hormone levels until at least 51. Hah! But I felt my body was trying to tell me something. Serious. You are so lucky to have found the right advisor(s).

    Coupled with a disintegrating hip at around the same time (which resulted in a replacement at 50), some serious family dysfunction and a high stress job, I experienced a multi-fecta of misery.

    Thanks to sites like yours and a number of excellent fitness and wellness professionals, I fixed my diet, lost weight, got some counselling, quit my job, and got through it. I’m glad it only happens once. And I’m surely not zee same person now!

    I have a theory about what happens to long time relationships at 50 or thereabouts. Once the woman has successfully navigated what you describe so accurately above, they have changed so much that their husbands no longer recognise them. We are not zee same person. Some sink, some swim!

  16. Teri says:

    October 15th, 2012at 8:25 am(#)

    Thank-you for this post. All of the women in the previous generation of my family (mom and aunts) have the belly and thick waist. My sisters and I thought we would outsmart it through exercise and weight-training (me) diet and running (sis). The Belly of Doom came anyway. I’m forwarding the link to your post, going to get checked out and, most importantly, giving myself a break for the waistline that isn’t so small anymore. I might even have some carbs- ha!

  17. Liliana says:

    October 15th, 2012at 9:43 am(#)

    Lived similar roller coaster, but throw in a number of miscarriages. My cause was undiagnosed hashimoto’s. Also known as hypothyroidism. I surrendered and started meds and now life is so, so, so much better.
    Thank you for sharing this!

  18. Mistress Krista says:

    October 15th, 2012at 10:28 am(#)

    @Liliana: Thanks for sharing your story. This is a great reminder that undiagnosed thyroid issues are very, very common in women. And since all hormonal systems are interconnected, what happens in one place affects everything else. It’s all one big, inter-related system.

  19. abqAnnie says:

    October 15th, 2012at 5:51 pm(#)

    Krista, you are such an amazing woman, whether you are showing us all how to squat properly or owning up to the body crap that too many of us go through.

    Does anyone know blood numbers? Amenorrheic for 8 years so there is no “phase” of cycle to reference against the blood work, fyi.

    Is progesterone of .4 ng/mL and estradiol of 30 pg/mL out of whack? A few years ago they were .2 and <20 so something happened….

    FSH/LH are also seriously low and all Thyroid stuff is borderline low, with TSH normal or slightly high.

    Golly, sorry for the TMI. Just thought this is a seriously experienced group of ladies to bounce this off….

  20. Fi says:

    October 16th, 2012at 7:45 am(#)

    Wow – brilliant rant! I’ve a doctors appointment next week to get iron/glucose/cholesterol results back & will ask to get my hormone levels checked. I’m 45 (on Saturday-yay) & have been getting the odd flash of anger ie. the urge to violently ram my shopping trolley into people when they are blocking the aisle. Don’t mind getting older & wrinkles but I DON’T want to loose any of my precious muscle mass. I have an annual DEXA scan so I can accurately track my fat/muscle levels (managed to put on 2.895kg of muscle last year while training hard for 3 half marathons).

    Oh – I’ve been getting really clumsy as well as angry & not sleeping – is this hormone related too???

    I often read back over your rants when I want validation that going to the gym 5 days a week & grunting/pulling faces while lifting weights is not a vanity, indulgence or a phase – it’s ok & part of who I am.
    Thanks Krista

  21. Lisa says:

    October 17th, 2012at 9:12 am(#)

    Amazing post in the usual snot-snortingly funny Mistress Krista-style.

    It very much struck a chord with me, as I had to hound doctors as a teenager to find out what was causing my out-of-character *HULK SMASH* rages, acne, light facial hair and menstruation non-debut at 16 (I could swear that my jaw and browbone were getting heavier too).

    Finally got a diagnosis of PCOS after brandishing a tiny cutting from one of my mother’s magazines at the doctor (this was the mid-90s in Ireland, no internet). Blood test and pelvic ultrasound ensued and there it was, testosterone was 7 times higher than it should have been. I was prescribed Dianette and it all went away after a few months. Came off it in my early 20s (shouldn’t have been on it for so long really, but anyway) and have been doing fine since. But it’s left me with a profound respect for, and not-inconsiderable fear of, the effects of hormones in our bodies. I’m 33 now, and even though I’d like a kid or two, I’m terrified of pregnancy and turning into a shrieking banshee who would cut a bitch for slurping their tea or something.

    Anywhoo, thanks for writing about something so personal, it’s great to read an honest and funny account of someone else’s experience of those kar-azy little hormone fellas. And for making it clear that, sometime it’s not under your control, it’s not curable with fish oil or squats or a fucking snatch ladder. Sometime modern medicine does have some of the answers.

    May I join you in wishing godspeed to your little doodles.

  22. Lori Wysocki says:

    October 17th, 2012at 10:19 am(#)

    This article made me laugh and cry at the same time…This IS me!!!!

  23. Mistress Krista says:

    October 17th, 2012at 11:22 am(#)

    @Lisa: This is one of the all-time greatest comments on this blog. “I’m terrified of pregnancy and turning into a shrieking banshee who would cut a bitch for slurping their tea or something… it’s not curable with fish oil or squats or a fucking snatch ladder.” HAHAHAHA!! Solidarity, sista.

  24. J says:

    October 17th, 2012at 2:36 pm(#)

    abqAnnie, I’m in a similar boat. I’m not amenorrheic, but I have similarly low numbers when I’m off HBC–2.18ng/mL progesterone, 27.8pg/mL estradiol, and hilariously low FSH and LH (1/10 of the bottom range), plus a low free androgen index (0.3) and high SHBG (>180)–and am wondering what it all means. I’ve had one or two doctors tsk about it but never say it was a problem or really direct me toward any major course of action, aside from “stay on hormonal birth control unless you want to get osteoporosis from low estrogen at 25.”

    But I’ve also had awful bouts of anxiety, random anger, troubled sleep, and unexplained weight gain/inability to lose weight around my middle for years and years now, plus a few more TMI symptoms that definitely seem like they could be hormonal in nature. (And that whole potential-osteoporosis-at-25 thing… that doesn’t seem normal.) Reading Krista’s rant was kind of mind-blowing–I eventually assumed all that was purely psychological, since that’s what my doctors insisted, but I wonder if a large chunk of the problem has been that imbalance instead. Wouldn’t be shocking if the HBC wasn’t fixing everything.

    Anyway, Krista, you are awesome for breaking the silence that usually surrounds these issues and telling your story. Glad you found some solutions!

  25. barbara cameron says:

    October 17th, 2012at 10:42 pm(#)

    i’m a newbie here. can’t wait to add my 2 cents to this forum, blog, ???

  26. Cullen Goldblatt says:

    October 20th, 2012at 1:28 pm(#)

    Hi Krista (and other folks), Thank you for this post (and the hearty and heart-felt comments). I’m a trans guy, I take testosterone and have been doing so for more than a decade. My hormone levels have made me concerned, but have not been concerning to doctors who generally claim that there is no baseline (me, pre-T) or relevant ranges against which to compare my levels, or a clear understanding of why they are what they are. Both estradiol and testosterone are too high – ovaries won’t go on a sustained vacation, testosterone is far above what is considered a normal male range – despite more frequent and lower dosing (ie weekly, lower than most trans men). Your posting seems clearly oriented towards women born with ovaries, but obviously the issues and connections it raises go beyond that category. I am a great fan in general; this posting in particular though had me wishing you had addressed an (implicitly even) wider readership. It also has me wondering about how all this might apply to trans people or intersex folks who may come to hormone-supplementing/whatevering in a different way than a woman who finds herself unexpectedly hitting menopause or something like it at an ‘early’ age. I’d never even heard about this synthetic/bio-identical thing. Should trans people be talking about it? Any research or conversations out there that you might be able to point me, and perhaps other readers, towards?

  27. Mistress Krista says:

    October 22nd, 2012at 6:17 am(#)

    @Cullen: Thanks so much for your great questions! These are some excellent inquiries that go beyond a short comment, but I will try to take a shot at them. One of the challenges, as you have discovered, is that health care providers know so relatively little about the complex interplay of hormones. Each hormone is a player in a very complicated system, and (although we all obviously obey the general principles of physiology) each person’s body is metabolically unique. For example, a stressor that knocks out one person’s central hormonal controllers (i.e. hypothalamus and pituitary) might only affect another person slightly.

    There are many factors that shape hormonal effects, e.g.:

    * how much you make
    * how much you can actually use (or how much gets bound up elsewhere)
    * what other things are floating around that may bind to the receptors
    * whether levels are changing/fluctuating
    * what relationships exist between hormones (e.g. if one hormone is “normal” but another is “low”, then you have an imbalance even though the first hormone is “normal”)
    * what is “normal” (or otherwise) for you as a unique body
    * what your hormone source is — gonads, body fat, adrenals, etc. (e.g. if body fat is higher then the adipose tissue itself secretes hormones or disrupts hormonal function; lower body fat can also disrupt function)
    * etc.

    In your case there are many potential factors, so I don’t have a clear answer for you. However I will say:

    * Yes, absolutely, anyone who takes hormones long-term should be talking about synthetic vs bio-identicals. They should also be exploring dosage options and methods (e.g. injectables, transdermal, etc.) to find what appears to be safest for their bodies.

    * In terms of research, check out Google Scholar. Unfortunately there is a lot more research on trans women who are supplementing estrogen than trans men who are supplementing testosterone (or things like anti-estrogens); there is very little on intersex folks so the best that we have are informed guesses.

    * Keep talking to everyone you can find. It’s essential that we keep having these conversations because they sure as shit aren’t happening in many doctors’ offices. My Dr. Rock Star is an awesome exception precisely because she treats many folks in diverse sex-gender-sexuality and street-active communities, so she’s much more open minded about how hormones can be used.

    * Look at Stefani Ruper’s work on PCOS. What you are describing sounds rather like what she terms Type 1 PCOS. If you have ovaries and you’re experiencing higher-than-normal levels of both est and test, that description of PCOS as a broad-based hormonal syndrome may fit you. You may also have low SHBG, which means more free hormone floating around. Here’s a sample of her work but you can also check out her PCOS manual.

    * I don’t know your situation in particular but we do know that body fat is a significant factor in many hormone systems — adipose tissue is a secretory organ as well as a storage organ; it can almost be considered its own distinct endocrine system. So if you have relatively lower or relatively higher body fat, you will see a significant change in your hormone profile. In your case if est and test are high I would also look into thyroid and your insulin/glucose tolerance, especially postprandially (after eating) rather than just a fasting glucose test (which often won’t show disrupted insulin/glucose unless you are in the later stages of progressing towards Type 2 diabetes, because fasting temporarily normalizes insulin/glucose). You can actually test this yourself using one of those home glucose meters that diabetics use. I would also explore DHEA, because these levels sometimes go up with stress, and you may also see androgenic effects from this too.

    And I can see that I definitely need to write some more articles for the site!

  28. Claudia says:

    October 22nd, 2012at 10:16 am(#)

    Krista,

    You are my ATHENA,
    my voice of reason,
    my peace.
    Spectacular rant!

    Thanks,

    Claudia

  29. Annie says:

    October 22nd, 2012at 10:37 am(#)

    Brilliant rant. How did you know how I was feeling and have done for so long. You made me laugh and inspired me. Have read loads on hormone imbalances, the challenge is finding a GP or other to listen and act accordingly!!

  30. Kea says:

    October 22nd, 2012at 11:09 am(#)

    Thank you for this post. I’m 30 and have polar opposite progesterone/estradiol, with one being VERY low and the other being VERY high…I will read up about this possible solution. I’m still hoping to have a baby.

    You are a gifted writer.

  31. Krista Schaus says:

    October 22nd, 2012at 11:26 am(#)

    My progesterone has been planning its hiatus from me for about a year now… 31 day cycles became 28 and more recently 26.

    It’s time to get a handle on this shit!

    And you know any Simpson’s inclusion. That’s extra good shit!

    As always, your timing is Divine and your rants are Da Bomb. Loaded!

  32. Richelle says:

    October 22nd, 2012at 5:58 pm(#)

    This is an incredibly moving post. Thank you so much for sharing your experience.

  33. Laura says:

    October 23rd, 2012at 1:00 am(#)

    this is just so weird. I visit your blog once a month or 2. Visited today, just on a whim. And, well, wow. Are we twins? :)

    Going through THE EXACT SAME THING at the moment. Am 43. I have some BHRT in my bathroom that I picked up at the doctor’s 3 weeks ago, but have been reluctant to try it. (Instead, jacking up the exercise, cutting the carbs and just gaining that turtle around the waist).

    THANKS SO MUCH for writing about this. I will be following in more than 1 ways. My path, but parallel.

  34. Tammy says:

    October 25th, 2012at 7:14 am(#)

    Wow this is the best information I have received in about 4yrs!!! Thought I was going crazy when my own doctor keeps testing me and everything is normal range!!! Thank you so much for giving me hope!!

  35. Pallavi Rightious says:

    October 25th, 2012at 9:15 am(#)

    OMG my husband Aron Rightious has been telling me to read your stuff for a long time and I’ve heard great things about you Krista from the other PN Krista, who was my coach through the LE Program. Why did I not read your stuff sooner!

    This article may have just saved me! Everything I read I can relate to and have been experiencing for quite some time now. Feeling crazy for at least half the month and feeling so stuck! The rage is there too, sometimes at others but often at myself. Random bouts of anxiety for NO REASON.

    I literally had tears in my eyes not just from laughing at the brilliant and comical delivery of your message, but also the sense of empowerment I feel from reading what you wrote.

    THANK YOU!!!

  36. Kerri says:

    October 26th, 2012at 1:15 pm(#)

    Thank you so much for the honesty in this article.

  37. Ashley says:

    October 31st, 2012at 9:01 am(#)

    Good to see an older man openly talking about this kind of stuff – my husband refuses to talk about it and it only makes matters worse for him.

  38. Katja says:

    November 10th, 2012at 7:01 am(#)

    I also suffered from the lack of progesterone for over 20 years but this was discovered when I made a homone-test only 3 years before. I wanted to literally kill myself once a month and also gained more then 2 kgs weight/water every 4 weeks and had a balloon in my body. I was full of panic, hate, pain and despressions every month. I had 4 therapists in those years but without any results – only judging myself for being a mistake and failing.
    Then I got the hormone pills (substituting progesterone) and IT WAS ALL GONE! The hellish feelings, the pain and the walrus. Since then never a psychotherapist crossed my way again.
    Before, I never believed in hormones because of the feminist thing.
    (sorry I am not a native speaker.)
    :)

  39. Chloe says:

    November 14th, 2012at 9:04 am(#)

    It should be against the rules for Bridget Bardot-esque women to be therapist I think ;-) Haha! But in all seriousness, I’ve never seen this issue broken down quite like that especially when it comes to the hormone treatments. Thank you so much for all the information.

  40. Timmyle says:

    November 28th, 2012at 9:06 am(#)

    Sweet merciful crapweasels, I love this blog. It’s like being hit upside the head with a big, greasy truth skillet. Hit me again, and put some stank on it.

    [scurries to find competant doctor(s) in area, instead of present obsessed-with-my-perfectly-fine-cholesterol model]

  41. Shannon says:

    November 30th, 2012at 10:13 am(#)

    Thank you so very, very, much, Krista, for such a refreshingly judgment-free and informative post. I’ve been dealing with many of these same things for a few years now and have just made an appt. with my doc to get this stuff checked out. I’m 36, which still seems on the young side for some of this, but I can’t deny the reality of it anymore – nor the fact that it makes me a very difficult person to live with.

  42. jan says:

    December 2nd, 2012at 2:08 pm(#)

    im a few months shy of 45. within the last month i quit smoking, have an ass-burning case of SAD and am flashing to the point where seizures are likely if you look at me for too long. sadly, everything and everyone in my life is sleeping like an asshole at this point. off to the doc i go…hopefully i can buy progesterone in bulk at costco. krista, being released on my own recognizance was probably the best i could have hoped for before reading your post. thank you.


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