My practice nurtures the process for those undergoing huge changes in their lives. In the medical industry, women’s wellness is often overlooked or addressed with less priority and care. Here is some helpful research and information about menopause, and how to make the experience comfortable and risk-free. In my internal medicine practice, and as the Medical Director of RenewMD, I have had extensive experience working with women undergoing every stage of menopause – beginning, during and post menopausal. Their concerns range from irregular, heavy or painful periods to peri menopausal complaints like hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes and sometimes, brain fog so heavy, they have a hard time articulating. These changes are due to having too little or too much estrogen or progesterone, which are very common instances, but often overlooked. Of course, if the perimenopausal symptoms are severe, these patients are put on synthetic hormones like Premarin. Unfortunately, these synthetic hormones are artificial replacements for estrogen and progesterone, therefore they are also associated with an increased risk of breast cancer and blood clots that can lead to death (Sources: Women’s Health Initiative Study, National Cancer Institute). Why would replacing hormones, even at a low level, increase risk of cancer or clots? This happens because drugs like Premarin or Prempro are artificial hormones derived from a pregnant mare’s (an adult female horse) urine and our body’s hormone receptors do not recognize these hormones. In order for our hormone receptors to recognize them, we need to expose the receptors to large doses of the synthetic hormone until the receptors get ‘overwhelmed’ and are forced to accept the synthetic hormone. Additionally, these hormones not only carry dangerous side effects, but they also suppress the body’s natural hormone output. These synthetic compounds create temporary relief of hot flashes and mood stability, but with very undesirable side effects like headaches, nausea, skin changes, sexual problems, and weight gain, and with more serious risks of cancer and/or blood clots. With the added cancer risk, most physicians wean their patients off of synthetic hormones within a few years, leaving many of them in a terribly imbalanced hormonal state.
So, what is the alternative?
We replace our deficient hormones or lower ones that are excessive by using natural hormones, this way the body will gradually start to fall back in balance without unwanted side effects and biggers health risks. We achieve this better alternative by using natural estrogen, progesterone and even testosterone that are typically delivered in the form of a pharmacy compounded cream. In order to do this, women have to first undergo a saliva testing to get accurate hormone levels (painless!). Many patients come to RenewMD with menstrual symptoms and say that their blood tests show completely normal hormone levels, and they are so frustrated because they can’t understand the cause of their symptoms. However, when we perform a saliva test, they are so surprised to learn the significant imbalance in their estrogen-progesterone ratio.
Why is saliva testing more accurate than blood tests for hormone levels?
When we test blood, we are testing venous (the veins) blood, which contains what your tissue does not absorb. On the other hand, saliva testing represents hormone levels that are bioavailable to the tissue making it an accurate and sensitive method of determining hormone levels.
What happens after saliva results are back?
Once hormone testing is completed, I will have gained a much better understanding of the cause of a patient’s symptoms. We then map out a plan that naturally addresses symptoms with Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy and supplements (keep in mind that each patient is different, even if symptoms may seem similar). The vast majority of the time, a deficiency in progesterone is revealed. Yes, most women, even in early menopause, have the same absolute levels of estrogens that they had when they were cycling. The symptoms they are feeling are most likely due to an age, or stress-related reduction in progesterone levels that balance the estrogens they are producing. Progesterone is not found in any birth control pill or even in the most popular hormone replacement pills or patches. By replacing the lost progesterone and other deficient hormones, natural balance is restored. This often results in resolution of symptoms without side effects. Abnormal periods and menopausal symptoms should never be written off as “normal aging”. With the right testing, we can find the specific cause and customize the therapy to each individual person. Book your consultation with Dr. Simran Sethi today!