The Naturopathic Doctors in our office all hold a prescribing license for bio-identical hormone therapy in Ontario. We see hundreds of women a year looking for help with PMS, depression, hot flashes, weight gain, foggy thinking, low libido and vaginal dryness. Our evidence-based practice focuses on the latest research in hormone replacement therapy, and offers women a complete health assessment (not just a prescription) to ensure we address all aspects of a woman’s health, and use her prescription as a support, not a crutch for her symptoms.
Read through our top questions we get asked when women are looking to get support for her hormonal symptoms. If you still have questions, call the office and ask to complete our comprehensive hormone questionnaire. One of our doctors would be happy to spend time answering your questions, to be sure that our program is the right fit before you begin.
- What is the difference between your pre-assessment program and an initial patient visit?
We developed the pre-assessment program after finding that so many women either hadn’t ever been assessed for hormonal imbalance, or they weren’t assessed correctly (or completely) by the time they sat down at our desk. They felt they had been ‘checked for everything’, or that ‘everything was within range’ and felt their symptoms had been brushed aside. As their last attempt, these women considered working with a Naturopathic Doctor to see if we could make sense of their symptoms.
The pre-assessment program allows women to divide their initial consult time into two visits, a 15 minute appointment to determine what blood work still needs to be completed to be correctly assessed, and then the remainder of their first visit completed once we have blood work in hand. It saves women time, and gets them treated with hormones faster.
If you’ve already had blood work done, or have additional non-hormonal symptoms that need to be addressed first (such as digestion or chronic pain) then starting with a full initial exam is the right choice for you. It allows us to do a full intake and physical exam, and offer Naturopathic treatment options on the first day, to get you started right away.
- What are the differences between BHRT and regular HRT?
BHRT is a custom-compounded prescription based on your weight, lab work, symptoms and goals. It’s made just for you, each batch at an accredited compounding pharmacy. This allows us to tailor the dose, administration method, carrier cream and dispensing method to suit your needs better than a pharmaceutically prepared standardized drug. BHRT also utilizes hormones that are ‘biologically identical’ to your own hormones, and are produced from plants. BHRT also uses a topical administration, which prevents your liver from breaking down the hormones before your body uses them. Not all women metabolize hormones the same way, and using a topical administration allows us to control the exact hormone type, and amount that gets into your system.
- Why do I need lab work before I’m treated?
BHRT is a prescription drug of estrogen, progesterone or thyroid hormone. These drugs must be based off both your symptoms and your lab work to be the safest, and most accurate way to treat your symptoms. It’s not uncommon for women to be treated by other practitioners without any baseline lab work. For us, we want to be able to track your progress, and be sure we are offering you the best care. Many hormone imbalances mimic each other, and without the lab work, your prescription is a guess.
- What if I had lab work done by my doctor?
If you are still cycling, your hormones need to be done on the right day of your cycle to be the most accurate. Many screening lab tests are just ‘done’, without looking at how your hormones may be making you feel. Some lab work should be done during your period, some during ovulation and some during your luteal phase (or day 21). In your 15-minute interview with one of our doctors, ask if your lab work has been done appropriately. Sometimes one or two additional tests can be added to your previous lab work to really unlock your case.
- How do we know if it’s working?
Our approach to BHRT prescribing is to find the lowest effective dose for your symptoms, which requires women to be using their treatments for a few weeks before we see benefit. This prevents us from ‘over-shooting the target’, and helps us determine exactly what your body needs. The advantage to working with a Naturopathic Doctor on your hormone health is that we also offer women comprehensive health plans (including diet, supplements, and herbs) at the same time as their BHRT prescription. This allows us to use some short term support while we wait for your hormones to begin working. We track your symptoms using validated symptom rating scales, and follow up blood work done every 3-12 months depending on your case.
- How long will I be on the treatment?
The length of treatment for BHRT depends on the age of the woman treated, what we are treating, and whether the underlying factors related to her symptoms can be resolved. Ideally we approach every case with the hope that we can improve the underlying causes of hormone imbalance, however many women may choose to continue their treatment long term to achieve benefits of BHRT on issues such as dementia and bone loss. Talk to us about your goals with BHRT and we can give you an idea of how long to expect to be treated before you start.