It is a matter of balance
Even though I am frequently asked about issues pertaining to female hormone balancing, I am reluctant to answer because tampering with the body’s communication system without lots of knowledge and experience is not a good idea. Would you fiddle with the wiring of your computer if you were not a computer wizard? Of course not. The body’s systems of communication are even more complex, so this is a matter best left to the experts.
However, it is not always easy to get the answers you need, particularly if you want to leave HRT as a last-resort option. For a more natural approach, you may opt for saliva hormone testing (www.salivatest.com). Select the estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and 24-hour cortisol tests. Take the results to your doctor and ask her to correct any imbalances. That is the best way to go.
Doctors who go a more natural route can prescribe natural hormone creams with phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogens) and/or progesterone, lubricating vaginal suppositories, topical libido enhancing creams, and pregnenolone.
Phytoestrogen creams generally contain extracts from red clover tops, black cohosh and dong quai instead of “real estrogen,” so the body uses the compounds in the plants to increase estrogen. Pregnenolone is a precursor of several hormones. I use pregnenolone myself to slow the aging process (is it working??).
Progesterone creams may contain “real progesterone” long with herbs like grape seed, aloe, chaste tree berry, to name a few.
However (please do not take this as an empty warning), even if you opt for a more natural approach, please get your own hormone levels checked before proceeding. Case in point: a good friend of mine showed all the symptoms of progesterone deficiency and on the advice of someone who should have known, started using progesterone cream. It messed her up! She stopped using the cream and her symptoms disappeared so no permanent damage was done but it points out the need for real, live data. And working this problem with your knowledgeable, naturally-oriented doctor.
Carol is a certified lifestyle educator at the offices of Dr. Alan Gruning in Fort Myers. She owns the Island Nutrition Center on Sanibel. She can be reached at 472-4499.