Marla Ahlgrimm, RPh, Offers Three Essential Steps to Successful Hormone Therapy

Marla AhlgrimmTo Pharmacist, Marla Ahlgrimm, the risks are just too great to undergo any form of hormone therapy without complete information. Marla Ahlgrimm advises women to get all of the facts and understand fully all the pieces that go into hormone therapy before moving forward. As a long-time pharmacist and women’s health expert, Marla Ahlgrimm empowers women with the tools they need to make the right health care choices. In the following Q&A, Marla Ahlgrimm discusses the three-step process to successful hormone therapy.

Q: Why do women need hormone therapy?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Every woman experiences symptoms of hormone fluctuation, however, for some women, the symptoms of these changes can be significant. Hormone therapy helps mediate many of the symptoms related to hormone imbalance.

Q: What are some of the symptoms of hormone imbalance?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Premenopausal women may become more irritable, crave sweets or chocolate, and experience fluid retention before menstruation. Menopausal women may experience hot flashes, night sweats, or vaginal dryness.

Q: What are the three steps to hormone therapy?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Baseline testing, individualized hormone prescriptions, and follow-up testing.

Q: What is baseline testing?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Baseline testing identifies the individual’s exact hormone profile.

Q: How is baseline testing done?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Testing can either be done through a blood test, urine or saliva test. Saliva and urine can be collected at home and then sent to a lab. Once evaluated, the results are sent to the woman’s physician. The blood test can be done in a physician’s office.

Q: Which test is more accurate?

Marla Ahlgrimm: The saliva hormone test only measures hormones that are free or available for the body to use, while the blood test looks at hormones that are free as well as those bound to protein, so it may offer a more accurate picture of a woman’s hormone profile.

Q: Which hormones are included in baseline testing?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Estradiol, DHEA, cortisol, testosterone and progesterone.

Q: What is an individualized hormone prescription?

Marla Ahlgrimm: This type of hormone prescription is developed based on each person’s individual hormone profile. It’s not a cookie-cutter approach where one dose fits all.

Q: Describe synthetic hormones.         

Marla Ahlgrimm: Synthetic hormones are similar to, but not identical to the hormones a woman naturally produces. Synthetics hormones are also more difficult for some women to tolerate, causing irritability, nausea and depression.

Q: What are bioidentical hormones?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Bioidentical hormones mimic the molecular structure of those found naturally in the body. They are compounded to meet the unique profile for each woman seeking care.

Q: Why is follow-up testing so important?

Marla AhlgrimmFollow up testing ensures the hormone therapy is working and dictates any changes to treatment in the future.

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