Are you experiencing symptoms of menopause such as a lack of sleep; fatigue during the day; mood swings, anxiety; depression; “foggy thinking”; hot flashes ; night sweats; dry skin; water retention; lost libido; and vaginal dryness? Have you tried medications only to receive no relief of symptoms or possibly adverse effects that are sometimes worse than the menopause symptoms themselves? Are you frustrated with your current drug therapy? Do you wonder if it isn’t maybe possible to find a treatment regimen that isn’t a one size fits all and one that takes into consideration your health status from a somewhat more holistic perspective?
If you answered yes to any of these questions we may be able to help you! At Stafford Pharmacy & Home Healthcare we specialize in the treatment of menopause by taking a holistic approach and when hormone supplementation is found to be necessary, helping you and your physician find the best supplementation regimen using bio-identical hormone therapy. Hormone supplements that are identical to your own hormones but that are used if and when it makes sense and not ignoring other physiologies that may also impact sex hormone function. Just to clarify, when we speak of these hormones specifically we are referring to progesterone; the estrogens which include estradiol, estriol and estrone; and the androgens, testosterone and DHEA.
Yet it isn’t logical nor does it even represent good medicine to haphazardly supplement with any hormone until it is established that there is in fact a measurable requirement for such supplementation. To measure this we rely on several diagnostic results including saliva testing (to check your hormone levels) and consultations to help find the right bio-identical hormone supplements for you! Supplementation with any hormone, whether it be progesterone or estradiol or testosterone should not proceed until it is determined that these hormones require supplementation. To do this it is necessary to approach your symptoms, all your health issues, giving careful consideration to how well your thyroid might be functioning; whether or not the adrenal glands are functioning normally or being asked to produce more cortisol than normal; whether your nutritional status is adequate and even your emotional status – have you been under additional stress lately and for how long. These are just some of the factors that must be considered carefully and in the proper perspective before moving forward with any supplementaton regimen.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, and suspect or have been diagnosed as a women going through menopause and would like to explore another treatment approach, in fact an entirely different therapeutic philosophy (NO, it does not involve chanting, gifts to dieties or anything remotely like that) then call for an appointment with one of our pharmacists. After we’ve had a chance to ask our questions, to prepare an adequate clinical history – during which time we may suggest that additional diagnostic testing be done – we will help you understand what those symptoms are telling us; explain some of the normal human physiologic mechanisms that are involved; explain what hormones are involved; what hormones are involved during menopause; expose some of the traditional approaches to menopause treatments historically; and try to bring the complexity of human hormone function into perspective so that you can understand not only what is happening in your own body but what can be done to help you relieve you of these symptoms. You will learn how “hormone balance” is what maintains good health and therefore hormone “imbalance” that leads to menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mental confusion, lack of energy, volatile emotions, and more.
Which is where the focus of current approaches, based on solid science and good medicine; based on more and more clinical experience as well as study after study by reputable, responsible, conscientious healthcare professionals. The clinical experience and the carefully executed clinical studies, both small and large scale, have shown us that there are many influences on human physiology affecting what we describe as a normal hormone balance, which when in this natural balance allows many women to experience menopause with little evidence of negative symptoms and negative health circumstances. However, when disease, poor health, poor diet, stress and the very environment within which we are living have such an impact on this hormone balance that leads to estrogen excess, progesterone deficiency and/or testosterone excess or deficiency, all of which interferes with “nature’s” ability to lead the human female physiology through a gradual, even, decrease in sex hormone levels – a very normal part of aging or as we like to say, aging gracefully.
Our role is to assist each patient, to find the best fit therapeutic approach which will lead them through menopause not only without the extremes of menopausal symptomology but also with a focus on reducing the negative impact on health. This is done in THREE generalized steps which start with Assessment; what was described early on as the goal of the first meeting with our pharmacist. The second step involves DIAGNOSTICS which often requires the use of saliva testing for the measurement of current hormone status. If other lab work has already been done, those results will certainly be reviewed and included as part of this second step. Fortunately in Alberta, pharmacists have access to lab results for any Albertan with a valid personal healthcare number, so we can easily obtain this information with the patient’s permission. The third step is to RESTORE HORMONE BALANCE once we have determined if this is the cause and more specifically which hormone is responsible. It is here that we would introduce Bio-identical hormone therapy as the treatment of choice for the correction of hormone imbalances.
It is important to mention that Bio-identical hormone therapy has also proven very useful for treatment purposes other than for menopause and that includes the treatment of infertility that might be related to hormonal imbalance as well as hormone imbalance that might be responsible for Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) in women of any age. This often requires the use of bio-identical progesterone to correct low levels of progesterone during the normal menstrual cycle or conversely the over production of estrogens which lead to the symptoms of PMS such as fluid retention, painful menstruation, uterine cramping, irritability, headache and depression to name a few. Please feel free to contact us for more information.
See the next sections for more information on saliva testing as well as individual hormones!
Saliva testing is considered the “Gold Standard” when determining a persons hormone levels. Hormones travel from the blood into the saliva by passing through the salivary gland tissue. This means that saliva hormone levels measure the actual delivery of hormones into the tissue, where the hormones exert their effects. In contrast, blood tests measure the amount of hormone that might eventually get into tissue. Therefore, saliva hormone levels better reflect tissue (or bio-available) hormone levels than blood levels do. The following hormones are commonly tested in saliva: estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and cortisol.
Saliva test kits can be purchased at Stafford Pharmacy. The test is completed at home and then mailed to Rocky Mountain Analytical labs in Calgary, the saliva samples are stable for the short trip to the lab in Calgary. When purchasing the Saliva Collection Kit, you receive a prepaid Express Post envelope to ensure a prompt delivery of the sample. For more information on Rocky Mountain labs as well as information about saliva testing, visit www.rmalab.com
Rocky Mountain Analytical is a Calgary based diagnostics lab that performs saliva testing for hormone analysis. The lab is Canada’s first diagnostic facility to introduce saliva analysis, the preferred method for steroid hormone measurement. The lab is headed by Dr. George Gillson M.D., PhD., who is the CEO and medical director. Results are available within 10 to 14 days with interpretation and comments by Dr. Gillson himself along with the reported values, reference standards and symptoms measurements.
New Tests: Hair Analysis for mineral, trace elements and toxic elements such as mercury, lead, arsenic, etc. Urinary Thyroid Testing