The Hormonal Nightmare

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Why Test The Hormones Levels?

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Although some health professionals may suggest that one only needs to look at a woman’s symptoms to know that she has hormonal imbalances, it is essential to actually test the hormonal levels.

Testing hormones helps to rule out hormonal imbalances in a woman’s body that can lead to other health problems. Knowing which hormones are out of balance assists in the proper treatment of health problems and re–balancing of the woman’s hormones.

Testing hormones also helps to rule out illnesses that mimic the type of symptoms that can occur during perimenopause. An example of this is hypothyroidism [under active thyroid].

Other important reasons for testing hormones are:

  • In order to find out how much hormones a woman’s body is making or not making — is she making too much of one hormone and/or, not enough of another hormone?
  • In order to find out if the woman’s body is making or not making the right amount of hormones during specific times during her monthly cycle.
  • In order to determine the type and amount of treatment that the individual woman needs.
  • In order to assess the effectiveness or lack of effective ness of treatments in maintaining a woman’s hormones at the correct levels.
  • In order to determine changes in a woman’s hormonal levels caused by natural life changes [girl to woman, hormonally balanced to hormonally imbalanced woman, woman to pregnant woman, pregnant woman to post partum woman, a woman in her reproductive years to a woman in her non reproductive years, a menopausal woman, and a post menopausal woman], and many different forms of stress

I have been asked why can’t women just use a questionnaire to look at her symptoms instead of doing any form of testing of her hormones. I tell them that I would never use any questionnaire instead of testing in order to discover what is happening with any woman’s hormones. With women of any age, there can be more than one cause or more than one hormone creating her symptoms. As a naturopath, I was trained to look for the underlying cause(s) of health problems, not just to treat the symptoms with natural remedies.

Back in 1998, when I first started doing salivary hormone testing, a 51 year old woman came to see me specifically because she wanted to do the salivary hormone test to check the level of her hormones. Her medical doctor could not order a blood test because she had slipped into menopause with absolutely no symptoms. She decided to do the salivary hormone test as she had a family history of breast cancer and wanted to prevent herself from getting breast cancer, not just do monthly breast self examination and yearly mammograms and treat the cancer if it occurred.

The salivary hormone test showed that she had excessive amounts of harmful estrogen and relatively low progesterone even though she had no symptoms. In his book, Dr. John Lee used the term “estrogen dominance” in order to describe a woman who has excessive amounts of estrogen, deficient progesterone, or a combination of the two. Usually women who have estrogen dominance also have symptoms which indicate that they are estrogen dominant. However, 5% of women who either make excess estrogen or are given excess amounts of estrogen [including biologically identical estrogens] do not have any symptoms. In the case of this 51 year old woman, she had absolutely no symptoms. Also, her progesterone to estrogen ratio [a mathematical calculation established by medical doctors] showed that this woman, who was the envy of all her female friends because she had slipped into menopause without any symptoms, was at risk for breast, endometrial and/or ovarian cancer. Therefore, now I always get women to do a salivary hormone test and never trust just the woman's symptom picture.

Dr. John R. Lee, MD, author of What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause, indicated that progesterone is the mother hormone and all that women need to do is take progesterone and it will convert into all the other hormones in the correct amounts.

In 1995, after I read his book and obtained his professional guide, I started to recommend to my menopausal patients that they try to obtain some progesterone cream. Due to the fact progesterone cream was not allowed in Canada and due to fact the women were so desperate for help for their menopausal symptoms, they would often cross the Canadian / US border in order to purchase it.

After recommending wild yam cream / progesterone cream between 1995 and 1998 to hundreds of women and following up on the results of their using the cream, I stopped recommending it to women. I found that some women who used the wild yam cream / progesterone cream had all of their symptoms disappear, cream had some of their symptoms disappear, some of the women who used the wild yam cream / progesterone cream had none other symptoms disappear, and some of the women who used the wild yam cream / progesterone cream developed more symptoms.

Those results helped me to decide to ensure that I always used a basic premise in naturopathy which states “First of All Do No Harm”. How, with such mixed results, could I in good conscience, recommends wild yam cream / progesterone cream to any woman. As I started to do salivary hormone tests on women in 1998, I realized that, even if a woman’s symptoms go away when she is treated with biologically identical hormones, it does not necessarily mean that her hormones are in the proper amounts or in the proper balance in her body. Therefore, even though she was not experiencing any symptoms, a woman might end up having various health problems related to a deficiency, excess or an imbalance in her hormones.

Now, after having done salivary hormone tests on many women who are taking just progesterone cream, lab results prove that only rarely will progesterone cream convert into all the other hormones in the correct amounts. The following are the saliva lab results of the hormone levels of two of the many women who I have tested who were only taking progesterone cream.


49 Year Old Pre–menopausal Woman

  • Salivary Hormones
  • Sample #1
  • Sample #2
  • E1 – Estrone
    Range 0 to 12 pmol/L
  • 15
    (high)
  • 16.6
    (high)
  • E2 – Estradiol
    Range 2 to 20 pmol/L
  • 2.6
    (normal)
  • 6
    (normal)
  • E3 – Estriol
    Range 14 to 38 pmol/L
  • 2
    (low)
  • 4.2
    (low)
  • Progesterone
    Range 20 to 800 pmol/L
  • 39,800
    (extremely high)
  • 3,625
    (high)
  • Testosterone
    Range 25 to 105 pmol/L
  • 28
    (normal)
  • 40
    (normal)

62 Year Old Menopausal Woman

  • Salivary Hormones
  • Sample #1
  • Sample #2
  • E1 – Estrone
    Range 0 to 12 pmol/L
  • 5.9
    (normal)
  • 15.3
    (high)
  • E2 – Estradiol
    Range 2 to 20 pmol/L
  • 47
    (high)
  • 311
    (extremely high)
  • E3 – Estriol
    Range 14 to 38 pmol/L
  • 193
    (extremely high)
  • 1,639
    (extremely high)
  • Progesterone
    Range 20 to 800 pmol/L
  • 22,533
    (extremely high)
  • 124,974
    (extremely high)
  • Testosterone
    Range 25 to 105 pmol/L
  • 624
    (extremely high)
  • 2,047
    (extremely high)

Therefore, I would never recommend that any woman just use wild yam cream / progesterone cream in order to treat her menopausal symptoms or just be treated based upon her symptoms instead of having her hormone levels tested.

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