A recent study has suggested that HRT may increase the risk of mild to moderate lupus 'flares'. HRT should only be used for short periods and should be avoided in patients with a risk of blood clots, and especially if they have antiphospholipid (sticky blood) antibodies. Some patients find alternative treatments useful but there have been no clinical trials in this area...
There is a high incidence of abnormal smear tests in lupus patients and research was carried out a few years ago at St. Thomas' Hospital with inconclusive results. Professor David D'Cruz from the Louise Coote Lupus Unit comments that abnormal smear tests in lupus patients rarely progress to cervical cancer. However, it may be advisable to take the advice of a gynaecologist to determine whether further treatment is required.
Many young women with lupus find that their periods are altered. There may be extra (inter-menstrual) bleeding or, conversely, an absence of periods for several months. This is a common feature of lupus and gives rise to a lot of anxiety. Fortunately, in the majority of women, the periods return to normal once the disease comes under control. As with many illnesses, it appears that general disease activity seems to alter hormone balance.
I have noticed a distinct pattern emerge, notably my symptoms of lethargy, joint pain and cognitive disturbance become increasingly severe and non-responsive to the drugs from day 14 of my menstrual cycle and, with more severity notable from day 21 onwards. At this point I find it hard to stay awake during the day-time for any length of time or move with any freedom. Are the symptoms related to hormonal activity...?