Life in the Flash Lane

She came into my office and broke down in tears. “I am absolutely miserable,” she lamented. “I can’t sleep at night. I have no energy. I am snapping at my kids and my husband every day. My hair is falling out, I’ve gained about 20 pounds in the last six months, and my sex life on a scale of 1 to 10 is a zero!”

This is the story of Barbara, a 50 year old mother of two grown sons and a devoted wife, daughter and sister. Her life fell apart six months ago when she went through menopause and now she has come to my office for advice and treatment.

Menopause heralds a huge change in a woman’s life. It is the end of her reproductive life and often the beginning of troubling symptoms such as hot flashes, sleeplessness and weight gain. The most successful treatment for menopausal symptoms involves the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, since the Women’s Health Initiative Study of 2002 reported an increased incidence of invasive breast cancer, stroke and heart attack with the use of synthetic estrogen and progesterone, women have shied away from this treatment.

“Welcome to the wonderful world of bio-identical hormone replacement therapy,” I said to Barbara as we began a discussion of a more natural way to relieve her symptoms and get her life back in order. Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) consists of specially compounded creams, capsules, tablets, troches, and sublingual drops that are formulated by a compounding pharmacy. The ingredients come from plant products such as soy and yams. Please don’t confuse bio-identical hormones with over the counter soy products that you can buy in drug stores. BHRT is therapeutic grade and stimulates the body’s estrogen, progesterone and testosterone receptors just as the body’s own hormones did prior to menopause. Because BHRT fits so well into the body’s hormone receptors, one can expect fewer side effects than that experienced with traditional synthetic pills and patches.

Barbara underwent a full hormone panel which includes blood levels of estradiol, estrone, estriol, testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, thyroid, glucose, cortisol, and human growth factor. With these levels in hand, I was able to prescribe her with a hormone regimen made specifically for her.

At her six week follow-up visit, Barbara had transformed before my eyes. She was smiling as she told me how well she was now sleeping. No longer was she freezing her husband out of bed at night by turning down the thermostat. She noticed that her hair and nails were growing better and that she had enough energy at the end of her work day to work out in the gym for an hour a day. Intimacy with her husband was better than ever.

I followed up her hormone levels with saliva testing since I had placed Barbara on creams instead of oral pills or capsules. Hormone creams do not significantly increase one’s blood levels of hormones because they do not go through the liver. Because they bypass the liver, harmful by-products are not formed that could potentially stimulate the breasts and uterus and do not significantly increase clotting factors which could cause a stroke, heart attack or blood clot in the leg or lung. I also made sure that Barbara was up to date with her annual pap smear, mammogram, screening colonoscopy and bi-annual bone density study.

Barbara is yet another hormone success story. Wanting to change her life for the better, she researched her problems and found a physician who could help her.

Dr. Tara Solomon is a board-certified obstetrician gynecologist who is the immediate past Chairman of the Department of Ob/Gyn at Northwest Medical Center in Margate and now sits on its Board of Trustees. Her office is located on the campus of the hospital at 5901 Colonial Drive, Suite 303. She can be reached at 954-984-8892. Please visit her website to learn more about the services she provides. Her new book What Your Gynecologist Never Told You… and Your Mother Didn’t Know is a must read for women of all ages and is available on both and websites.