by Dr. Tina Marcantel
Oprah talks about bioidentical hormones in a program that aired early in 2009. Dr. Tina Marcantel is a naturopathic doctor in Gilbert, Arizona, who also serves the East Valley cities of Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, Apache Junction, and Queen Creek, and the greater Phoenix area.
When Oprah talks about bioidentical hormones people pay attention. On January 15, 2009, Oprah Winfrey dedicated her entire program to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and bioidentical hormones. All-in-all I thought this was an excellent show to help introduce women to the topic and I thought I’d review a few of the points that were made and why they were important.
*Women should start monitoring their hormonal balances earlier, rather than later, in life.
Robin McGraw (better known to some as Dr. Phil’s wife) shared how she began her journey to find the answers to a better quality of life at the age of 45 and she told how she has been continually researching the subject of hormone replacement therapy for the past ten years. She said she thought women should start monitoring their hormone levels much earlier than she did (possibly in their mid-twenties) and I heartily concur.
Why? Because hormonal imbalances aren’t just attributable to menopause. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS), childbirth, and perimenopause can all play a role in fluctuating hormone levels that can lead to weight gain, depression, fatigue, and other unwanted symptoms.
*It’s not selfish to take care of your own health first.
Robin McGraw also made the point that she realized that if she wasn’t healthy she could never provide for the needs of her other family members. Time and time again in my practice I’ve had patients describe how they make sure that their children, spouse, parents, etc., are provided for first. The problem is that once you’ve taken care of everyone else’s needs, you often don’t have the energy or health to take care of yourself. It’s the “put your own oxygen mask on first” philosophy that will allow you to truly help your loved ones best.
*Take control of your health care.
Oprah, Robin, and Dr. Christiane Northrup all agreed that you must be your own health care advocate and assume responsibility for seeking the best care possible.
First, find a doctor who will listen to you and work with you to provide an individualized care plan. One-size-fit-all treatment plans usually turn out to be a terrible fit. Don’t settle for a five-minute visit that results in a prescription followed by “call me in six months.”
Second, be sure that your doctor addresses your symptoms, not just your lab results. Just because your tests come back “within normal limits” doesn’t mean that your symptoms are all in your head. What is “normal limits” for one woman who is asymptomatic may cause serious problems for another. Lab tests are a vital tool, but your treatment plan should be defined by your symptoms, not your lab results.
Third, educate yourself about your symptoms and possible treatments. Your doctor should certainly help with this (I’m very big on patient education) and there is plenty of information on the subject of hormone replacement therapy in books and on reputable websites. (See my Patient Reception Room page for some excellent reading recommendations.) Learn about your options.
*Rebalancing hormones is not a “quick fix” or a one-time doctor visit.
Because your body is constantly changing and adjusting to any health care regimen you follow, it’s vital to constantly monitor and adjust hormone therapy prescriptions. This is a long-term commitment that requires working along with your physician to find the optimum health plan for you, but the rewards for those who are willing to follow it can be amazing!