When I began my Happy Hormone Cottage endeavor 3.5 years ago, my intention wasn’t to become a women’s health advocate. I just wanted to share the story of my struggles with hormone imbalance issues with women and share all I have learned along my own path, in hopes of helping women with their own struggles. And because I am an educator at heart, I know that the most productive way to make a change for the better is to educate these women in their options for natural hormone balance. Why? Because what I know from being in the classroom for 30 years is that learning is a change in behavior. And when we positively impact a woman by encouraging her to change her behavior…. her entire family, inner circle and community is changed for the better. This is still my path and my passion. I just never realized how very difficult this entire journey is. I didn’t know in August of 2009 when I hung a sign out in front of our tiny little cottage that said, “We talk to women!” that what I was doing by talking about natural hormone balance and educating women was so adamantly opposed by current standard of care. All I knew was that every woman I talked to had the same hormone imbalance issues I had, were ALL being prescribed antidepressants and sleeping aids to address their issues, so these women were just drugged. They didn’t feel any better nor were their hormone imbalance issues being fixed. They weren’t being heard, but didn’t have the knowledge or confidence to dialogue with their doctor. For most women it didn’t even occur to them TO discuss these issues with their doctor in a different paradigm. And I learned that much of this is because the balance of power between our doctors and their patients is so skewed. We shouldn’t feel intimidated or afraid to speak up about our own bodies and advocate for ourselves. We have the right to do this. And we should be doing this. What I know is that the BEST way to treat a hormone imbalance is to check existing hormone levels and then prescribe bio-identical hormones that are customized for each woman AFTER checking hormone levels, to replace the depleted hormone levels in our body that deplete with age. But I had no idea how territorial and resistant many doctors are to ANY options other than what they are used to, even if the products they are prescribing have significant health risks. And even those women whose doctors did recognize a hormone issue, were handed an rx for an estrogen patch, spray or gel because our doctors are visited by drug reps who push all estrogen all the time. Why? Because what I know is women over the age of 35 are already estrogen dominant….so why in heavens name would one be prescribed even more estrogen? Does this even make sense?? And then these women wonder why they have gained weight, have brain fog and an increased risk of breast cancer. I’ve learned that many of our healthcare practitioners don’t know the difference between progestin (synthetic progesterone) and progesterone (the actual hormone.) I’ve learned that most ob gyns are taught somewhere along the line that women without a uterus don’t need progesterone. But what I have learned is that progesterone is used for its protective benefits for the heart, brain & other body organs, along with performing many other critical tasks. In fact, it is our first line of defense in any hormone imbalance (which most women have after the age of 35, and sometimes younger.) We just worked with a 24 yr old whose body was desperate for progesterone, yet whose doctors put her on 3 heavy duty drugs for her depression. She really needs progesterone! But no one even considered she could have a hormone imbalance because she is only 24. When we tested her progesterone levels, we found them to be way below range. Interesting, huh? My “favorite” story is the 34 girl who had a genetically high risk for breast and uterine cancer, so she had these parts removed….only to allow her doctor to slap an estrogen patch on her so she wouldn’t get hot flashes…..and this is the gal we worked with who knew that this “strategy” can involve a heightened risk for cancer. When I finished beating my head against the wall, I just have to ask “Why? Why do we allow this? What is wrong with this picture?”
I have learned that just like in any profession, there are good doctors and not-so-good doctors. And while, luckily, most of the doctors WE work with are agreeable to our therapy and are willing to let us mentor them, we have a few who have become resistant to any help at all. Here is what I have learned: those doctors who want us to work with them and their clients as a triad, a 3-way partnership, are the ones who clients do the best. Let’s face it. Doctors aren’t trained in the art of compounding. Our compounding pharmacists have been doing this since 1994. That is a l-o-n-g time to get really good at something. And the tricky part of achieving hormone balance is after the 3rd month, when we have to listen to the body’s biofeedback to make adjustments to dosing. There is an art and a science to this. So the doctors our clients go to who appreciate our compounding pharmacists’ suggestions and use them AND then have us make their therapy, are the ones whose clients do the best. We tell our clients with doctors who don’t “allow” us to work with them (and these are the clients WE have sent them. Does this seem to scream “lack of integrity” to anyone besides me???) they may want to leave and go to a doctor who does work well with us because we have their back. Our clients whose doctors work well with us are the ones who, hands down, do the best long term. The good news is that we have a doctor coming to work with us on our campus in the next few weeks (yay!) so this will no longer be an issue. We no longer have to be at the mercy of doctors who don’t get what we do; are threatened by what we do; are too arrogant to believe that we could know what we are doing because, after all, “we aren’t doctors.” My response to this is, “How is this working for you? Are your patients better with your “strategy” or are they just drugged? Are you checking hormone levels and then replacing them in a balanced approach by looking at all 3 sex hormones…or are you just slapping on an estrogen patch?” Come on, people! This can’t be this hard. I think my bumper sticker sums this up the best, “Condemnation without Investigation is the Height of Arrogance.”
I recently sent one of my employees to a local women’s networking meeting, to hear a Dayton ob gyn discuss menopause. I almost fell out of my chair when I read
her notes that this doctor, in discussing the use of the synthetic drug masking as a hormone, Premarin, (conjugated estrogens made from pregnant mare’s urine) said, “There is nothing more organic than horse urine.” Really? Where has this doctor been? Here’s a clue-how about checking women’s hormone levels first and then customizing a hormone replacement strategy based on the needs of her body, using bio-identical hormones that mimic the hormones made in our bodies? Exactly why would I want to put horse urine into my body today when we have so many more viable options? And one of our experts in the field says he can’t find even one study on the safety of Premrin. Interesting, huh? Continuing to hold on to the old-school path of prescribing synthetic hormones that were introduced in the 1950’s is much like continuing to drive an Edsel in spite of the advancement in the automotive industry in the past 60 years. Every time I think of his comment, I can feel my heart start to palpitate!
I have learned that when we look at the body holistically, our clients do the best. This is why also we check adrenal glands and thyroid as the FIRST step to WELLNESS.
What I know now is that the science of Functional Medicine is the philosophy that works best for what we do, so we can look at the body as a whole and approach it in terms of prevention of disease and over-all WELLNESS. So our Happy Hormone Cottage is a WELLNESS FACILITY where we focus on the prevention of disease and anti-aging strategies that begin with hormone balance in 3 critical areas (including adrenal fatigue and thyroid balance), as the FIRST step to wellness. I have learned that using the proper supplements customized for each client drastically optimizes hormone balance and positively impacts over-all health. Our “must have” supplements include 5000 units of vitamin D daily, along with 2000 units of a high quality omega 3. When talking fish oil, you DO get what you pay for. That is why we carry one of the best fish oils on the market today. (check out my online store for more information.) I have learned that eating clean, or at least not eating wheat products (no flour) and for those with gluten sensitivity, not eating gluten, can make a huge difference in how we feel, in our blood sugar levels and inflammatory responses. I also know that making a lifestyle change by eating differently as well as working out, positively impact our health and wellness.
Finally, I have learned that treating a disease does NOT create health and that we Do have a choice in our life experiences. Sadly, we often choose our beliefs
over our experiences and we need to rethink this because, quite frankly, it isn’t working. My truth is that what we place our attention on determines the quality of our lives.
So knowing what I know now, I have to place my attention on being a women’s health advocate. If not me, who? I know the time is NOW to make a change for the better. And what better way to do it than by changing the life of women, one woman at a time?