It wasn’t until recently that I even knew you COULD order your own bloodwork. Or that it was as easy as reading a catalog of options and then choosing the one(s) you wanted. I’ve been part of the uninsured self-employed for a while, and it makes it so I do not seek medical care unless actually fearful of death…but that’s another post.
I have been suffering from PMDD for at least the last 4 years. My symptoms manifested each month about 11-9 days before my cycle. I would be intensely irritated, highly emotional, and could actually FEEL the shift in my heart from patient to uncaring. Each month when the shift happened I would find myself glancing at my period tracker app and noting that the days were consistent. I lived this way for years assuming there was nothing I could do, but then I began to have other symptoms as well. I found myself exhausted all the time and brain fog made concentrating on work difficult. While I wish I could say that these discomforts are what finally drove me to seek a solution, it was my vanity. Despite being more active than the past and watching my caloric intake, I was gaining weight steadily. I found myself loathing every photograph and my self-esteem was taking a nosedive. I was doing the work, but the weight was not coming off.
I found a website that outlined which tests were available – let me tell you, there are more tests than I could imagine. The descriptions made it easier to know what I might want to look for, but honestly, I’m no doctor, so I had to take my time doing research and reaching out to my community online to ask for recommendations. I wavered between a test for female wellness and weight control… I think you know which one won out, though. The test for weight control included bloodwork for my thyroid as well as my hormones, a CBC panel, and things like cholesterol & blood sugar. Once I purchased the test, at a cost of around $300, I just had to walk into a local bloodwork lab and have my blood drawn. Eight vials and three business days later I had the findings in an email.
The results were in: I had high cholesterol and the progesterone level less than that of a post-menopausal woman.
Shock and realization set in. I had an answer. I started furiously researching low progesterone and all the puzzle pieces fell together. My research led me to supplements and a bioidentical progesterone cream easily purchased from Amazon. I anxiously awaited their arrival in the mail, stalking the tracking information for the delivery daily. I was near in tears when they first arrived, hopeful that the results would give me back some semblance of a normal life.
The supplements were supposed to be taken starting around cycle day 10 and the Universe smiled on me because that’s when they arrived. I meticulously followed the directions for 3 weeks now, a full round of doses, and I wish I could articulate exactly how significant the changes have been. The progesterone is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream and doesn’t need to build, so the effects were immediate. When cycle days 11-9 pre-period came and went without a shift in my mood, I was in disbelief. I messaged all of my friends who knew what was happening and expressed my shock:
Could it be that I really would be able to avoid the PMS-on-steroids? The answer was yes.
I ended up having about a day and a half of irritability right before my period started, but NOTHING like what I was used to experiencing for weeks. My husband wasn’t avoiding me to protect himself from my wrath. I wasn’t short with my children for days and days *insert shame spiral*. I didn’t feel like I was constantly stuck in bed in a fog of sadness, anger, and confusion. I think I’ve finally found how to balance the overproduced estrogen and non-existent progesterone my body had been suffering with for years. I’m so glad I didn’t talk myself out of spending that money on my health.
I’ve also made some serious changes to my diet because of the high cholesterol and paired with my hormone supplements the weight is finally, slowly coming off. I don’t think this will be a quick fix but I’m finding I don’t mind that I’ve become an avocado toast millennial, and I’m feeling better than I have in years.