Let’s Talk Hormones
By: Debbie St. Clair, M.D.
Want to know my patients’ most common complaints?
- Low energy
- Brain fog
- Low libido
- Difficulty sleeping
- Weight gain
- Decreased muscle strength
- Nagging joint pain
Chances are you’re experiencing some of these symptoms right now. They start to creep in around your mid-thirties and things get progressively worse.
Take my patient Julia*. She’s in her early forties, she’s had a couple kids and, upon first glance, she appeared pretty darn healthy. But Julia reported that she felt “off,” just not herself. She said that her energy level wasn’t what it used to be. Despite exercising regularly and eating healthy, she was tired during the day. And then at night she couldn’t sleep. She also admitted that she was a nightmare to be around in the days leading up to her menstrual cycle.
In my old practice—picture the busy, mill-style operation, seeing 25-30 patients a day—I’d hear her symptoms and do what most traditional doctors do. I would check basic labs–like thyroid and blood counts–and usually the results were “normal.” But “normal” doesn’t necessarily mean optimal.
Ultimately, I would reach for my prescription pad to scribble out the common remedy: anti-depressant and sleeping pill. I didn’t have time to dig in deeper, asking questions to get at the root issue. There is a root issue worth recognizing here among women ages 35 to 55 who are done birthing babies but are neither truly perimenopausal nor menopausal. Most traditional, family docs either don’t know what to do with this population or they don’t have time to investigate. So they throw scripts at them without taking into account the whole human. These women are in no-man’s land.
Since joining Griffin Concierge Medical (GCM), I’ve embraced the opportunity to really dig into patient complaints, analyze root cause and create custom-tailored action plans.
Her’s what I’ve learned: Very often, the causes of the above-mentioned symptoms (in women and men) lie in a hormone imbalance. Hormones have a hand in every organ system— cardiovascular, thyroid, metabolism, bones, mood, concentration, you name it. So if you’re hormones are out of whack, the rest of your body and your feeling of wellbeing will be also.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. The GCM standard baseline panel includes an in-depth hormone analysis, which is equally important as looking at obvious biomarkers like, say, cholesterol.
Men, you’re easy. If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, we can look at just one hormone—testosterone—and optimize it via lifestyle adjustments and bio-identical hormone replacement therapy.
With women, it’s more complex. Women have estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, and our levels will fluctuate based on life stage. I want women to know this: the time to look at your hormones is now–not after you hit menopause. Don’t wait.
Take Julia: The traditional, primary-care experience would have dismissed her symptoms as a normal part of aging. Yet, her lab results clearly demonstrated that her hormones were far from optimal. So I designed a bio-identical hormone-replacement regimen to optimize her levels. Eight weeks later, she reported greater energy, enhanced mood, increased strength, improved sleep and mental clarity. Her body fat also decreased by a whopping 50%, and she gained muscle. (She continued to work-out regularly and eat well during this time.)
At GCM, we detect hormone imbalances and work to correct them via lifestyle modifications and, often, bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. Unlike synthetic hormones, which can cause side effects and increase the risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular disease, bio-identical hormones mimic the chemical structure of your body’s natural hormones. To optimize your levels, we can prescribe creams, injectables, or lozenges. We also offer pellets, which are the most convenient option and highly effective because of their unique ability to deliver a consistent dose. Pellets are placed under the skin and last for months. They are a reliable, hassle-free option for those of you who don’t want to deal with needles or remembering to apply creams.
Contact us to learn if bio-identical hormone-replacement therapy is right for you.