Q: I experience painful swelling and lumps in both breasts for two to four weeks out of every month, so I elected to visit my ob/gyn earlier this month. I thought I would get some direct medical feedback from her, but now I’m more confused than ever.

I did have a full blood analysis done, but the blood tests showed all my hormone levels to be “normal.” So I asked her about salivary hormone testing, which she pretty much shot down in flames. I have had a mammogram as well, apparently also “normal” with the exception of dense fibrous breast tissue.

I am pretty much at my wits’ end as to what to do. I am 37, fit, well within acceptable weight and percentage body fat range. Should I begin using Herbal Equilibrium, even though my blood tests show “normal hormonal levels”?

A: These are very good questions! Patients who experience mild to moderate symptoms of hormonal imbalance are often confused by blood tests results that return “normal.” For many years, testing has been used in conventional medicine for disease screening, not to evaluate imbalance, so the definition of “within normal limits” tends to be very wide.

Many doctors have not been trained to evaluate the hormonal imbalance that occurs long before a diseased state is reached. They will typically test thyroid hormones and FSH/LH levels and report normal results, even when your levels are imbalanced, short of ideal, or not where they were when you were at your best. And most labs do not quantify either the free or albumin-bound hormone levels that are actually bioavailable to the tissue, either; nor do they identify the estrogen-to-progesterone ratios.

Salivary hormone testing can sometimes be useful for zeroing in on these fluctuating hormonal imbalances, but few providers are familiar with them or confident in evaluating the results. They are controversial, as hormone levels do fluctuate. What we generally do is look at patterns to get an overview of tendencies, and then intervene accordingly.

Because Herbal Equilibrium is gentle, natural and adaptogenic, it will help normalize levels of the three key hormones that tend to fluctuate in perimenopause.

Together these measures can be very helpful. Give it a try, and let us know how you go. Should you have further questions or need one-on-one personal attention, you may wish to schedule a Nurse–Educator phone consultation. You can call our help desk at any time to schedule a phone appointment at 1-800-448-4919 .

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