If both testosterone and DHEA levels are depleted, women's health pioneer Dr. Christiane Northrup, M.D., recommends replenishing DHEA. If DHEA, which can require about four months to work its magic, is insufficient, she recommends switching to testosterone. For those who choose testosterone, Dr. Northrup favors a natural version over those made from equine estrogens and methyl testosterone.
Formulary, or compounding pharmacies create natural hormones that are customized to individual needs. To learn more about natural hormones, call the Women's International Pharmacy at (800/279-5708 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 800/279-5708 end_of_the_skype_highlighting). To locate a formulary pharmacist in your area, contact the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists at (800/927-4227 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 800/927-4227 end_of_the_skype_highlighting). Their Web address is www.iacprix.org.
If you think you might be a candidate for androgen therapy, here's what to do:
- Request a health screen from your clinician Have your testosterone, DHEA and estrogen levels measured. Normal concentrations of testosterone range from between 25 and 100 nanograms per milliliter of blood. Some clinicians also recommend an at-home saliva test that checks "free" hormone levels (these are the active hormones), not just total levels. You can order a saliva test on your own from Bio Health Diagnostics (800/570-2000 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 800/570-2000 end_of_the_skype_highlighting), Aeron LifeCycles Laboratory (800/631-7900 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 800/631-7900 end_of_the_skype_highlighting) or Great Smokies Diagnostic Laboratory (800/522-4762 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 800/522-4762 end_of_the_skype_highlighting). The results will enable your health care practitioner to fine-tune your hormonal "cocktail" (prescription) so that it is individualized to your specific needs.
- Eat a well-balanced diet to stabilize your hormones Fiber and foods rich in minerals, such as potassium and magnesium can help balance hormones. Tofu, tempeh and other soy products are excellent sources of phytoestrogens, plant compounds that behave like mild estrogens in the body, helping relieve menopausal symptoms. Other sources of phytoestrogens include apples, alfalfa, cherries, potatoes, rice, wheat and yams. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables will also help maintain optimal health as you transition into menopause.
If you begin androgen therapy, be sure to report any side effects to your doctor so he or she can monitor your progress and adjust your dosage as necessary.
Although it is not for everyone, emerging research may reveal androgen to be one of the most promising therapies available to menopausal women. Sexuality and vitality need not be passing pleasures of youth.