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  1. #1
    ICN Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2012

    Low progesterone and IC?

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    I'm new to the forum (as of Oct) and wanted to see how many ICers started showing symptoms as they hit perimenopause. I've had issues with low progesterone for the last two years (I'm 41) and this summer, I had my first major IC flare. I've been on Elavil (20 mg) and Uribel for the last two months and have started to show signs of improvement. However, I'm beginning to think that it was more due to the fact that I didn't have my period last month. I have issues with inflammation outside of my IC and the low levels of hormones last month but me into a lowered state of inflammation.

    I'm working with an IC dr and a gynocologist who does bioidentical HRT. The IC dr has suggested continuous birth control (I've never taken any hormonal BC) and the gyn is suggesting bioidentical estrogen and progesterone, with some herbal support.

    I was wondering if anyone has had success with either option? I'm scared to take the BC but I think it's because I've never taken it before. I'm pretty sure that once I get these hormone levels more even and reduce my inflammation, I should be in a pretty good place. The question is, which direction is the better one?

    Thank you for any replies/feedback!

    PS. My low progesterone has been acne, ab weight gain, migraines, insomnia, anxiety. I took Chasteberry for 6 months and my acne was gone within a week, didn't do much for the anxiety, or weight gain but then I was eating pretty terribly so I won't chalk it up to the herb. As soon as I went off of Chasteberry, my skin went back to being pretty bad and I started getting a pain in my pubic bone which I now know was an early sign of my IC.

  2. #2
    ICN Member patbannister's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Orangeville, Ontario, Canada
    I was diagnosed when I was 37, in pain for about 18 months, then in remission for 13 years until I hit perimenopause. That was last June and I've been struggling ever since. At first my Dr. put me on birth control pills, but they made the pain worse. He then tried HRT, but the progesterone just about killed my bladder. Searching on this site, I discovered that many, many people have had the same response to progesterone and their IC symptoms. It seems to make it worse. I'm now using Vagifem (just started) and we'll see if that helps at all. Of course, everyone is different and you may do perfectly fine taking both Estrogen and Progestrone. Good luck!

  3. #3
    ICN Member NancyB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Dear Lilnee -

    Yes, I developed symptoms of IC (pain, urgency, frequency, spasms, etc.) when I hit 47. It was the start of my peri-menopause. I actually was diagnosed with IC via a hydrodistension; however, in retrospect. I think all I really had was a dried out bladder from low estrogen. I told my gyn that I suspected I was low in estrogen and he agreed to give me a 6 week trial of 1/2 mg. of estradiol per day. Within a day I could notice a difference. In a few days I felt so much better and in 3 weeks my bladder symptoms were gone. I didn't go on any progesterone at that time. I tried to use some progesterone later and my bladder was screaming in pain and I had to stop it. My gyn agreed to watch my uterus closely for signs of endometrial cancer with frequent ultrasounds while taking the estrogen unopposed (without progesterone). After having my uterine lining building up with just the estrogen, I had an endometrial ablation to burn off my uterine lining. However, it grew back. I eventually had to have a hysterectomy to remove my uterus (and everything else) because of uncontrolled bleeding. It was the best thing I could have done. I have been bladder symptom free since I was put on the estrogen 17 years ago, as long as the amount of estrogen I was using was correct. Of course, with my uterus gone, I no longer have to worry about it. It was often hard to regulate the amount of estrogen I needed, so I ended up switching to the Climera estradiol patch that allowed me to cut and paste what I needed as my body was going through perimenopause. After my hysterectomy, it took a short period to get my estrogen level right so my bladder wasn't effected. I have been on the same dose now for 14 years, which is 1 mg 2/day. When I was 60, I had to add 4 mgs/gm vaginal estriol compounded cream to my regimen because I got vaginal dryness and had lots of vaginal pain. However, I ended up getting abdominal pain from the cream and just rub it into my abdomen, which works fine. So, I am still on the oral estradiol and the estriol compounded cream rubbed into my abdomen 2/week. I will be on both of those for life.

    You may have the same issues I did. Taking a trial of unopposed estrogen for 6 weeks will give you the information you need as to whether this might be your problem.

    I hope this information has been helpful. If you have any other questions, please feel free to PM me.

    Nancy B

  4. #4
    ICN Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Hi Nancy,

    Thank you for your reply! I'm pretty sure my bladder issues are improved by progesterone and not estrogen. My symptoms are always at their worst right before I ovulate and during my follicular phase of my cycle. I'm pretty much asymptomactic during my luteal phase and during my period. I also just went through a period of symptom reduction when both estrogen and progesterone were at equally low levels.

    I was in remission for a very mild case of IC when I was pregnant with my son and for two years afterwards. It was only after my progesterone significantly dropped (aging, stress) that I had my first major flare. My IC is mostly burning. I don't have frequency but I sometimes have urgency but that could also be due to urinary changes after having my son.

    I believe my case is more tied to high levels of inflammation. I'm pretty inflammatory all over my body- fair skin that burns easily, rosacea, blepharitis, food sensativities. Progesterone helps to combat inflammation and with my (pretty much) menopausal levels of progesterone lately, my inflammation has been flaring constantly. My goal is to get them to calm down and see if that helps the IC. I've found that my skin is at it's worst when I'm estrogen dominant and my anxiety levels are also high.

    I know most ICers seem to have issues with progesterone but I don't think I am one of them. I'm kind of nervous to try hrt or bc. I'm looking into doing some hormone balancing with some herbs. I'll be working with an herbalist come January and she will be treating me in conjunction with the ic meds I take.

    Thank you for your feedback and sharing your experience!! I like being able to look at things from all angles.

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