Musings on hormones and health insurance

My acupuncturist made me borrow a book from her: The Sexy Years by Suzanne Somers. It surprised me by being interesting and useful. Its really aimed at women 10 years older than I am, but it was interesting nonetheless. I only read half of it and now want to get it back out of my house. It’s become part of the clutter problem and must go. But I digress.

The main thing I want to remember is the concept of bioidentical hormones. When considering hormone replacement therapy (HRT), bioidentical hormones are best. It makes perfect sense. Bioidentical hormones are easy for the body to process and will have the same effect on the body as its own hormones.

I also want to remember that testosterone levels are important for women and their libidos. In fact, decreased sensation in the genital region and even atrophy of the nerves can be linked to low free testosterone levels. I hope that in 10 years I can revisit this book and more recent research on the topic. I hope that my financial situation will allow me to seek out the right doctors for determining my own perfect balance of hormones if my health insurance won’t cover the treatment.

In fact, I wish that I could get some of that help now. While I was pregnant, I was healthier than I’ve ever been. My body liked the pregnancy hormones — A LOT. Almost all of my little aches and pains and some of the bigger ones, like hives, went away.  They didn’t start returning until a few weeks and months postpartum. Now I am beginning to take the mini-pill, Nora-BE®.  My hope is that it will help with the various symptoms I am experiencing – hives included – that may or may not be part of psoriatic arthritis.

Unfortunately, while I am hopeful that this will help, Somers’ book reminds me that this may not be right way to go about this.  For one thing, I haven’t had any hormone level testing.  I was hoping to do that before beginning any sort of hormone therapy.  I would like to know what my own hormone portrait is without contamination from a hormone pill.  In taking one last night, I have, at least for the time being, ruled out that possibility.  At least I think so.  The fact that this pill’s instructions are extremely strict about ingesting it at the exact same time of day every day suggests that maybe I could get accurate level readings by simply not taking it for a day or two.  Knowing my own hormone levels is important for both future potential HRT and for understanding my bodies hormone cocktail needs now.  Every woman is different, and taking a pill like Nora-BE® without investigating hormone levels ignores that reality.  If it works, great.  If it doesn’t work, it won’t mean that the hormones aren’t part of the solution to my issues.  In that event, it may be that the hormone was the right one to modify, but that the dosage was wrong.

A second indicator that this might not be the best way to go about this is the fact that Nora-BE® is probably not a bioidentical hormone.  Therefore, if it doesn’t work, it may be because my body couldn’t utilize it properly.  I am, after all, trying to trick my body.  It stands to reason that my trickery should be as convincing as possible, and how can it be if I am not using a bioidentical hormone?

I have asked for hormone testing repeatedly.  It hasn’t happened, I believe, in part because the doctors I have seen don’t deal with hormones very much at all.  It is outside the scope of their usual practice.  Somers described this problem at some length in the book.  I also suspect, particularly after reviewing part of my EOB for my health insurance, that my insurance would not cover such testing and that this makes doctors unwilling to prescribe it.

With all of the current public discussion about health care reform, I wonder — where is individuality in it all? Yes, we must ensure that everyone has access to health care, first and foremost. But let’s be real here. That is only part of the solution. For people to reach their full potential in personal, professional, and societal terms, they need access to health care that treats them as individuals with specific individual needs. Modern Western healthcare ignores the personal and the individual in favor of the standard and homogenous. In many cases, that does a disservice to the patient.

Finding Somers’ book on my table again was bittersweet because it has reminded me that I am taking the easiest, most cost-effective course of action and that may not be the most effective one.  Unfortunately, this is the road I am on.  I know I am on it in part because I want some immediate results and do not currently have the time, energy, and money to try to force my way onto a more appropriate road even if that road might have better results. It is depressing but true.

While this post is not strictly a review, I feel I should note that I recommend The Sexy Years to anyone with an interest in knowing more about sexuality, hormones, and HRT. I would also like to point out that it is not just a book for women. There is a lot in there for men to learn in terms of themselves and their partners. It is also not just a book for people who are already in menopause or andropause. Don’t make the same mistake I initially did; don’t discount this book because of Somers’ image in your mind.  I am glad I was led to this book and I hope I will eventually find the time to finish it and to apply her advice to action in my own life and health.

Musings on hormones and health insurance