Q: I live in a very rural area, and there are no doctors near me who know about bioidentical hormones. I found a hormone panel on the internet that I can use at home. The on-line pharmacy will interpret results for me. Then all I have to do is get a doctor to prescribe it. What do you think of that?

A: We usually don’t recommend this approach to start with. We have often found the saliva tests used in at–home tests to be unreliable, highly variable, and difficult to interpret.

We realize that using an at–home kit may be a lot easier than getting blood drawn, but we much prefer blood tests, at least to start with. Some on-line pharmacies are indeed experts in bioidentical hormones, but we feel that you may need the continuity of care that only a focused patient–practitioner relationship with an experienced healthcare provider can provide.

In an ideal world, all women would have access to healthcare providers well versed in bioidentical hormone testing, interpretation of the results, and hormone therapy custom-compounded to meet their individual needs. But if blood testing cannot be carried out by your local practitioner, or your practitioner is unwilling or unable to interpret the results, you may need to travel to the nearest city. Visit Women’s International Pharmacy for more information on hormone testing labs and finding a practitioner who can assist you.

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