THE HORMONAL CONNECTION
Scott Wasserman, M.D., wants you to know that you’re not crazy! Conventional wisdom dictates that if yu don’t feel well, and you are just not yourself, then something is wrong. Fatigue, depression, decreased energy, decreased sex drive and migraine headache are symptoms many women experience as they enter their 40s or 50s. However, these symptoms are often vague and difficult to measure. Many women who are experiencing these problems are being treated with anti-depressants, sleeping pills, painkillers and other name brand drugs that are marketed to physicians. If you think these treatments aren’t working for you, believe in yourself.
Dr. Wasserman, a specialist in reproductive aging and midlife medicine, has found that many of these symptoms are actually related to changing hormonal levels. In his practice, Dr. Wasserman learned that perimenopausal and menopausal women had trouble finding the individualized care that is needed to create a solid foundation of health. Dr. Wasserman points out that doctors are good at starting medications but not so good at stopping them. Many women who are being treated for menopausal symptoms still may feel something is wrong. They may not be receiving the right hormonal treatments.
Dr. Wasserman believes perimenopausal and menopausal women are “underserved,” but the specialty is growing in acceptance. Menopause doesn’t happen overnight, and some women in their early 40s who still have regular periods may be experiencing a hormonal imbalance. Dr. Wasserman points out that some hysterectomies can be avoided, and the symptoms of depression, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome can be mitigated by working with hormones. With many patients, a “big piece of the problem can be hormonal,” he says.
If placed on hormone therapy, Dr. Wasserman recommends that women use natural hormones, which are “bio-identical”. Ninety-eight percent of women on hormone therapy are getting Premarin or some other synthetic hormone derivative, which is not natural to the female human body. In addition to natural hormone therapy, Dr. Wasserman draws from other treatment options including nutritional guidance and exercise therapy, depending on the individual patient’s needs.
“Hormonal problems should not be seen as an inevitable part of being a woman or something that is just to be accepted,” Wasserman says. A decrease in hormone production is normal as we age. Fatigue, depression, sexual difficulties and headaches are not acceptable as an inevitable drain on the quality of life.
When treating women with hormone replacement therapy, Dr. Wasserman uses EPT drops which contain estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. The drops are bio-identical, the same chemical make-up of the human hormones, and plant derived. The patient can take the drops based on how she feels. While the drops are a popular method of administration, Dr. Wasserman has found that hormone pellets are increasingly helpful in treating patients with hormone imbalances or deficiencies. The pellets are injected under the skin two or three times a year. Oral hormones must pass through the liver, making this a very unreliable method of administration, while the pellets are gradually released through the blood stream. For women who do not respond well to other methods of hormone replacement, the effectiveness of the pellets is often profound. Use of the pellets has been shown to decrease unnecessary tests, hospitalization and doctor visits. Complaints such as chronic fatigue, heart palpitations, migraines and chronic aches and pains often decrease with the treatment.
“It’s a lonely feeling to not feel good,” Dr. Wasserman says. He has found that people can go for years without receiving the help they need. Wasserman’s bottom line is “the relief of symptoms caused in large part by hormonal changes,” through the use of a number modalities. He works to “unravel individual situations and get past the confusion.” Once the issues are clarified, priorities and a course of treatment can be determined. Rather than automatically prescribing a hormone, Dr. Wasserman first determines where he, and the patient, should put their energies, especially if there are a number of problems.
Dr. Wasserman’s office is at 20201 N. Scottsdale Healthcare Dr., Ste. 250, in the Thompson Peak Medical Plaza in north Scottsdale. He can be reached at (480)538-8188.