Down the Lupron Road...Literally
I was offered Lupron years ago to stop my periods & get my body ready for IVF. After researching this medication though, I opted against it.
What is Lupron (Leuprolide)?
It is a synthetic gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH agonist) that blocks the production of certain hormones
It’s injected intramuscularly (IM) every month or every 3 months
Initially it overstimulates the production of hormones such as estrogen in my case, which makes the symptoms worse, before shutting down production of the hormone completely
Lupron was first approved to treat advanced Prostate Cancer in men and then used to manage symptoms of Endometriosis & Adenomyosis, Uterine Fibroids, & in conjunction with IVF
There is a long list of side effects associated with this medication that can occur even after a few doses of this medication, such as bone loss leading to osteoporosis, stroke/heart attack, memory loss, liver damage, and more
October 2018 I was given with the option of monthly Lupron injections to manage my period & pain but with Add Back Hormone Therapy called Activelle. This was a last resort in hopes of avoiding a hysterectomy.
I was not up for another major surgery so I decided to take the risk & try Lupron.
After I got the injection, I was just waiting for something to happen. When looking online, it said changes started to occur after 2 weeks but there was nothing about when your period came, how painful it was, how long did it last, what other symptoms occurred, when did things stabilize, etc. So I wanted to share this with those who might have also chosen to go on this medication but are wondering what to expect.
My experience might be slightly different as I continued to take Yazmin birth control for the first 10 days after the first injection.
The First 30 Days:
Day 1-3: Muscular pain & soreness at injection site
Day 4-9: No changes
Day 10: Stopped birth control pill
Day 13: Spotting starts
Day 14: Spotting continues; feel tired, sluggish, headache starting & insomnia at night. Mood changes clearly noted – very irritable, annoyed easily, sad, happy…. PMDD x10 basically
Day 15: Period starts, heavy, severe cramps (10/10), back pain but left leg pain was the worst (10+/10). Sharp, shooting, searing pain that did not stop with any medication, THC, balms, essential oils, or Epsom salt baths. Chose not to go to ER.
Day 16: Period continues, headache turns to migraine. Cramps are bad (9/10) but the leg pain is very intense. It has caused me to become really exhausted as I haven’t been able to get it to a manageable point but I refuse to go to ER. Hopefully tomorrow it will be better.
Day 17: Period is slowing down, moody still, major fatigue & insomnia continues. Leg pain continues but at a less intense level (7/10). Still taking any & all meds
Day 18: Period at light flow, leg pain is manageable now with max doses of medication & combo of THC/CBD
Day 19-21: Light spotting; fatigue & migraine ongoing
Day 22: Period over! Migraine ongoing. Continuing with meds.
Day 23: Severe migraines, hard to open eyes or focus on anything & feel irritable
Day 24: Migraine ongoing is still going, tackling insomnia with Acupuncture, Zopiclone, Epsom salt bath before bed with overload of lavender everything (diffuser, oils, sprays, lotion, body wash, etc.). Also having random, sharp left hip pain – cause unknown
Day 25: Migraine better; going to continue Acupuncture, combo of Tylenol & Advil Extra Strength as well as Peppermint Halo to manage it. Mood is improving as pain improves. Sleep is still on & off
Day 26-32: Migraine improved daily with therapies noted above. Mood is much more stable & overall pain from uterus & ovaries reduced. Hours of solid sleep increasing to 5-6/night
Fast forward to the present, January 2020. I have been on Lupron for 15 months now. Medical menopause is in full swing. During these 15 months, I have attended many therapies, taken supplements, Chinese Herbs, become more mindful & had a few good moments after the first month & half up until 3-4 months in.
It was then I started noticing that three weeks after an injection, I began to experience uterus cramping & sharp ovary pain so the Lupron wasn’t working for the entire month. I tried the 3-month injection & found they did not last as long either in terms of effectiveness.
My hot flashes were minimal thankfully & my mood has been more stable despite circumstances. I experienced on & off joint & tooth pain, which was scary, but calcium levels tested normal.
Aside from daily pain continuing, Chronic Fatigue & Short Term Memory Loss are definitely two of the more prominent & bothersome side effects I have experienced as a result of being on Lupron.
The memory loss I started noticing after approximately 6 months; it's annoying as I forget what I’m thinking as I’m thinking it & its embarrassing because mid-sentence I will forget what I’m talking about.
But I thought if this is the trade off, then I would rather deal with this than the pain.
There shouldn’t have to be a trade off though. And I shouldn’t be wondering if my memory will come back or if I will stop being so damn tired all the time or if these are permanent side effects that I will have to learn to live with.
But that is can be the reality for those of us that have been on Lupron. I am not ashamed or embarrassed of my choice; it was something I had to do.
I do wish I hadn’t gone on it & had the surgery instead but I’m not looking back now, only moving forward & sharing my experience so others can be more aware.
If you decide to try Lupron, please research this medication before you do so you are fully aware of all the possible side effects.
Roop Bassra, RN
BSc Psychology, BSc Nursing