Health Alert 203
Many readers were surprised at the recent Health Alert that mentioned the importance of testosterone for women (Health Alert #199). Today I’m going to surprise you even further: for some women, testosterone is not only important, it can be life changing when you are going through ‘The Change’…
If you suffer from symptoms of menopause – the irritability, sleeplessness and weight gain – you might never think of asking your doctor about testosterone. But you should. What’s more, most doctors respond to complaints like these with the wrong solution: estrogen-mimicking drugs. These drugs address some of the discomforts of menopause, but not all, and the drugs are not necessary.
*Miserable in Menopause*
Alice walked into my office one afternoon and nearly broke down into tears as she told me her story. ‘I’m entering menopause and I’m miserable,’ she blurted out. Truth is, she was beyond miserable—she was desperate. She had gained 20 pounds and lost all sex drive. She feared her husband was going to leave her. She had already seen doctor after doctor but was growing more frustrated.
First, she saw her OB/GYN, who asked Alice if she was still having her periods. She was. Many women still experience periods in perimenopause—the early stages of the big change. However, once the doctor heard this, she told Alice to come back when her menstruation stopped. The problem with this common approach is that you continue to have symptoms but also the losses at menopause are easier to prevent than to reverse later.
Still suffering, Alice went to her general practitioner. He dignosed her as depressed and wrote a prescription for the anti-depressant Paxil.
Alice took the Paxil. “It seems to numb my feelings of depression some but I still don’t feel right. My sex drive is now worse than it was. I’m eating like a bird, it’s gotta’ be these pills making me gain weight. It’s no wonder she was at her wits end when she arrived in my office.
*Testosterone: Menopause Relief In Days*
I measured Alice’s hormone levels with a simple blood test. I looked at her estrogen, her progesterone, her DHEA and her testosterone. Of course, I had a hunch what I would find but I can never be sure without the tests. Alice’s estrogen was actually quite normal but she had a low progesterone and zero testosterone.
I gave her a shot of testosterone to jump-start her recovery and a prescription for bio-identical testosterone and progesterone. That was on a Monday. On Wednesday, she called my office thanking me. Within weeks, Alice was her old self again. We stopped the Paxil in 2 weeks. She dropped the extra weight, was sleeping soundly through the night, and her sex drive was back. Even her husband called to tell me how happy he was with his ‘new and improved’ wife – and made an appointment to get his hormone levels checked!
Before taking any drug for symptoms relating to menopause or perimenopause every woman should have her hormone levels measured. You have a broad range of options from doing nothing to intervene in this natural process (and avoiding the drugs), to nutritional changes, to herbs, to real hormone replacement at varying doses and combinations. Stay tuned for more natural strategies.
Al Sears MD