Last week, I had the great opportunity to take a course on female hormones. Though it was very basic, the information was valuable beyond compare. Guess what? Hormones are not some great mystery! They can however, depending if you have too little or too much, be a royal pain in the neck. This is just a general idea of who, what, when and where to help you get a handle on those pesky hormones.
Poly Cystic Ovaries (PCOS)
Pre-menstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Pre-menstrual Dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
These are conditions that can and are effected by the level of hormones in your body. The symptoms vary. What may seem like you have just had a super long month at work and you are tired all the time, may actually be a lack of Estrogen in your body.
Who to see
Seeing your regular primary care physician is a good place to start. If the Dr feels like your condition needs further evaluating, you may be referred to a Women’s Health Specialist or OB/GYN. Depending on your history, you may even consider starting there. Naturopathic doctors (ND) are also fabulous for these conditions. They treat the body in a holistic approach that will make you feel better from the inside out. ND’s are an underutilized medical professional, and aren’t the hippy dippy doctor’s folks once thought them to be. Need a physician recommendation? We have lots of fantastic providers that we work with who are ready to help you get healthy!
Blood Serum vs. Saliva
You get to the Dr, and they have a suspicion that you may be lacking or have unbalanced hormones. What’s next? You need to be tested to make sure that’s really what you have. Depending on their experience and knowledge will send you for testing. According to Dr. Pamela W. Smith, MD, MPH, MS- Saliva testing is the most accurate form for testing hormones. Blood serum can fluctuate and depending on simple things such as stress and what you ate for lunch can cause hormones levels to fluctuate. Saliva is stable, and not to mention, doesn’t require a blood draw!
You’ve just been diagnosed. Now what? Depending on your condition whether it be low/high Estrogen or low progesterone, you and your Dr. will decide on a plan to help you get balanced. This usually comes in the form of a prescription.
According to Dr. Pamela Smith, Estrogen should NEVER be given without Progesterone. Why? These two hormones walk hand in hand and when you boost one, the other needs to be boosted as well to help you stay balanced. Go with a Bio-identical hormone such as porcine or yam. These hormones are chemically just like our natural hormones and will less likely cause you trouble. Best to stay clear of any designer hormones (synthetic). Hormones need to be given transdermally (cream or gel on the skin) which must be formulated at a compounding pharmacy. Here are Dr. Smith’s warnings for why oral estrogen can be harmful:
Increase blood pressure
Increase estrone (E1 estrogen)
Elevate liver enzymes
Increase sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) (decreases testosterone)
Interrupt tryptophan metabolism and consequently serotonin metabolism (production)
Lower growth hormone
Increase prothrombic effects
Increase C-reative protein (CRP)
Increase carbohydrate cravings (I don’t know about you, but this one gets me bummed!)
Start low and go slow!
Take that transdermal prescription and make sure you are applying it according to your Dr’s directions. Rotate the locations so you don’t grow hair in that area- Yikes! Apply it to areas such as the inner arm, thigh or top of the foot. Keep a few things in mind. It may take up to 6 months for your body to balance out. The important thing is to start on a low dosage. If you live in Washington State or a state that allows the pharmacist to alter the dosage, you can always consult with your pharmacist to make sure your dosages are on par. They can increase the dosage if you are still not feeling yourself. Starting on a low dosage and slowly increase if needed is going to help you feel yourself in the healthiest way possible.