Our approach to assessing hormones is to utilize a whole systems, Functional Medicine investigation, including helping each person understand the risks and benefits involved for themselves and helping each to assess short and long term goals in why they may want to use them. We look at factors such as quality of life issues, heart health, breast health, erectile function, osteoporosis risks, libido, sleep, nutrition and the influence of thyroid, adrenal and gastrointestinal factors.
When we use hormone replacement, we use only bio identical hormones (like the body would make for itself), not synthetic hormones. We use small physiologic quantities, not large pharmaceutical doses. At the same time we help my clients optimize all hormonal systems and review lifestyle tools to help maintain balance. Monitoring appropriately with saliva and blood testing as needed. Most importantly, helping men and women tune into the intuition and wisdom of their body's needs.
Bio Identical hormones and "Anti-Aging" remedies are all the rage. Unfortunately clinics have been popping up all over the place with often-disastrous consequences from a one size fit's all, "Hormones R Us" approach. Mindlessly inserting pellets or using high doses of hormones without looking at all the different factors involved in production, metabolism, detoxification, genetics can create many more problems than you started with!
It is important to know that their really are no "experts" out there. Hormonal balancing is a rapidly evolving and ever changing field of knowledge. Most of the conventionally trained "experts" out there are pharmaceutical industry funded, who look at aging and menopause from a "disease and deficiency" model rather than a normal healthy life passage.
There are many things we can do to support and optimize our body's intrinsic healing and balancing mechanisms. You are the best expert for your own body. Pay attention to your intuition and to what your body is telling you.
Most of my clients come to see me because of hormonal imbalances: bad PMS and mood swings, difficulty sleeping, erratic periods or menopausal symptoms of hot flashes and night sweats. On top of that many of you are suffering from fatigue, mild depression and other symptoms.
The important thing to understand is that there is no one "pill" that is going to "fix" the problem. ALL organ systems in the body are related and influence one another--so it is really important to look at the "big picture". Surprisingly enough, small changes in several different areas can make big differences in symptoms. (see following Big Picture list)
The first thing we do is assess adrenal health and gastrointestinal health. Disturbances in these systems play a huge role in hormonal balance.
- How much stress are you under? For how long? In what ways? What are your coping mechanisms and tools?
- What are you eating, drinking, or lacking in your diet which influences hormones?
- How is your bowel function? Irritable bowel symptoms (Gas, pain, bloating, constipation)?
- What toxic exposures have you had to antibiotics, medications, environmental factors?
- How well is your thyroid working? (i.e. Hair falling out, depression, dry skin, brittle nails, cold hands and feet?)
Hormonally, because of environmental and dietary factors, most women are estrogen dominant (lacking enough natural progesterone to balance excess estrogen); leading to heavy bleeding, erratic periods, PMS, endometriosis, fibroids, bad cramps, breast tenderness and even breast cancer.
Testing and monitoring hormone levels (we use saliva and urine tests),then treating imbalances with bio-identical progesterone or estrogen, can make a huge difference. It is also critical to test thyroid function both with blood testing and body temperature charting. There is a difference between the "normal" range of most laboratories and the "optimal" range, particularly for thyroid.
PMS symptoms tend to be particularly common for women in their thirty's and forty's. Most often related to lack of self care, inadequate sleep and missing nutrients. Menopausal symptoms can occur over ten years before your cycle stops. During this "perimenopause", it is normal to experience fluctuations of estrogen and progesterone, leading to all kinds of physical and emotional ups and downs.
From an emotional/psychological standpoint, menopause is like "reverse adolescence". Dr. Christiane Northrup articulates how emotional issues and trauma, buried in adolescence, will resurface in menopause, triggered unexpectedly by words or incidents, such as dealing with your adolescent children or aging parents. This is a time when issues return to be healed by awakening and tapping into your body wisdom. See my resource list for many helpful books.