How can I start using natural hormones if I have not had my levels tested?
The issue of measuring hormone levels is controversial. Why? Because a woman’s hormones fluctuate so much during the period of menopause and peri-menopause, that the results are often useless.
If you go to a doctor for natural hormones, the doctor will often just use your symptoms to fix or adjust your dose. After using the hormones, if your symptoms do not improve or you are having any side effects, the doctor will adjust your dose accordingly. If you are using an over-the-counter product, you can do the same thing. You find the level that gives you the most relief from your symptoms.
Some doctors who give you a prescription for natural hormones and send you to a compounding pharmacy to fill the prescription will do a blood test. The basis for their thinking is that they can see what hormones your body is lacking and customize a formula for you. There is a problem with this. Women’s hormones can change dramatically even day to day and certainly month to month. Symptoms are the only real measurement of what is going on with your hormones.
I have not found any wide-spread support of measuring a woman’s hormone levels during menopause and peri-menopause. Even when I asked my own doctor to do a hormone panel, he deferred, preferring instead to inquire about my symptoms. He said, “It is too expensive for you and it will not really give me any definitive data.”
The reason so many women become militant about checking their hormone levels is that they feel so poorly and they want help. AND we have become accustomed to being “tested.” Every woman has had an experience where a doctor checked blood levels for something and made a diagnosis and possibly prescribed a medication after which they got “better”. We take that experience with us when we enter the often-difficult time of menopause. Consequently, You may end up spending from $100-$600 for blood tests and doctor visits and not know much more than what your hormones were doing that particular day.
Without testing, you can simply begin using natural progesterone according to the directions for a menstruating or non-menstruating woman. The strength of 40 mg per day is not considered to be a drug, but a natural supplement, so you do not need the prescription.
Now, let me say this: Testing is fine if you want to do it! Many people can not afford expensive testing and at the strength you will not “imbalance” yourself so testing can be forgone. I have used the cremes for almost 30 years and just go by my symptoms. I was offered some free testing twice, so I went for it and both times my hormones were “spot-on”. I knew they would be, because I felt so good!
So, testing can be a waste of money and you can just go by your symptoms and probably do just as well as if you were tested. However, if you take mega-doses of anything….like Estrogen, Testosterone, DHEA, testing will keep you from becoming over-loaded.
I simply take the normal, physiologic doses of hormones, so I do not routinely test. I go by my symptoms. But if you do want to test, saliva or blood-spot or urine is best. I’ve tried them all on your behalf and I vote for saliva or blood spot. Know this….most conventional doctors order a serum blood test drawn from a vein in the arm. This measures the hormones present in the watery part of the blood known as serum.
But, only about 1-5% of transdermal hormones will show up in the serum! Not the bio-available hormones that are leaving the blood and entering your cells. So your reading will not be accurate and your doctor is very likely to say, oh those hormones are not working; they are not raising your levels.
What kind of testing will reveal the bio-available hormones?
Saliva: Because hormones in the blood stream are filtered thru the salivary glands.
You simply collect your saliva into a tube. You can actually order a test mailed to your home and then you mail it back after you have collected your specimen.
Capillary blood spot. Bio-available hormones show up in the capillaries versus the serum. You just prick your finger and swipe it on a slide. EASY! Also available by mail. Did you know that most doctors are unaware of this option?
Another option is urine, but you have to collect your urine for 24 hours. I tried it; not my favorite memory!
In conclusion, I believe many women could save a lot of money on testing and just go by their symptoms. Remember there was a time when there were no labs & blood work was not done….doctors diagnosed by symptoms alone.
I had one women spend $450 on testing and her doctor read the tests, looked at her and said, “Jane, you’re in Menopause” Oh, gosh, she already knew this because her periods had completely stopped. Wow…how’s that for a waste of money?
If you are using transdermal hormones, ask for saliva or blood spot (capillary blood) to get a true reading.
If you are using nothing or synthetic hormones, blood will give you a proper results, but I hope that is not you!
A great resource is ZRT Laboratory in Beaverton, Oregon for a home test.
A very respectable company! I really trust them.
Email me if you have questions. I am YOUR advocate.