Do you want to be “NORMAL” or do you want to be:
I know what the answer is for me. And I bet it’s the same answer for you.
One of the most frequent questions I get from clients is “I went to see my regular doctor and he told me my hormone levels are normal. We checked everything and he said everything is fine. So why do I feel so lousy? Why am I so tired? Why is my sleep so poor? Why is my sex drive lower than it used to be? Why does my recovery from exercise take so long? Why am I so irritable?”
Well, the answer to this depends on what you define as normal.
How is “normal” defined?
In general, most doctors consider normal levels to be those ranges revealed in a blood test that the lab designates to a certain hormone. For example, if you’re getting your testosterone levels tested, a normal total testosterone value is often used. The “normal” range for testosterone is roughly between 300 to 1200 ng/dL (nanograms per deciliter). If you fall anywhere in this range, you’re told your level is normal.
Here’s where the problems start.
Problem 1: The Gap
That’s a pretty big gap between the two numbers! It says that someone who has a level of 300 ng/dL is essentially the same as someone who has a level of 1200 ng/dL. It doesn’t say anything about what is normal FOR YOU. Nor does it consider that your level may have been 3 or 4 times higher a few years ago. You may have symptoms because your level should be higher than it is even though your level falls in the “normal” range. Normal for you may not be the same as normal for me. We are all different, and this should be acknowledged.
Problem 2: Who is defining “normal?”
Second, who comes up with the “normal” range? These ranges were calculated in the past by taking the testosterone levels of a sampling of guys with ages ranging anywhere from about 19 to 90. Their health and fitness levels varied anywhere from fit to obese. The healthy 19 year old levels were more on the high end of the chart, while the older guys were at the lower end. So, it was concluded by the powers that be that it is “normal” for older men to have much lower testosterone levels than younger guys. But do you want to be compared with any old (or young) guy? Regardless of any underlying medical problems they may have? I don’t! I want my hormone levels to be compared with healthy, optimally performing men, or even more importantly with ME and how I feel.
Optimal hormone levels are the levels associated with the highest quality of life, the lowest incidence of symptoms, the lowest risk of degenerative disease, and the best health outcomes. That’s where I want my levels to be.
Problem 3: Your doctor needs to be checking the right hormones
Your doctor should be looking at the right hormone levels in the first place. Sadly, they’re often not. Testosterone is a perfect example. Most doctors look at total testosterone, when they should be looking at free testosterone, which is the testosterone that is actually available to do all the things you want it to do in your body. I see many patients with high total testosterone levels (“My doctor says my level is great…”) and low free testosterone levels (“…so why do I feel so lousy?”). It’s important the right levels are being looked at in the first place!
So who should you go to for lab testing and to discuss your hormone levels?
It may be challenging for you to discuss normal versus optimal hormone levels with your regular doctor, as he or she may not be familiar with or has not researched enough to give you the best advice. That’s why when having your hormone levels tested, it’s important for you to find a physician that specializes in hormone optimization in order to be better informed and treated for any hormonal deficiencies. And most traditional doctors do not have the time to sit down with you for an hour or more to come up with a comprehensive individual treatment plan specific to your needs.
Just as you should see an orthopedist to fix an injured shoulder or a cardiologist for heart issues, you should see a physician who specializes in hormonal optimization to evaluate and treat you. And since traditional endocrinologists specialize in treating hormonal diseases, you are better off seeing an Age Management Medicine physician to advise and comprehensively treat you when you’re not diseased, but are suffering from the signs and symptoms of hormonal decline.
Hormones do not act alone
Lastly, there are so many different hormones in your body. Each does not exist in a vacuum. They play together like instruments in an orchestra, working together to create an amazing you. They should be comprehensively addressed, along with looking at nutrition, exercise and lifestyle, since all of these contribute to your overall hormonal health. Your body and health cannot be summed up or improved by testing one or two numbers.
Optimizing hormone levels can help you look and feel better as well as rejuvenate tissue and help you feel more youthful and vigorous.
So if you’re being told by your doctor that “normal” for your age is fatigue, low sex drive, depression, increased body fat, loss of muscle mass and poor quality of sleep, turn around and run.
You deserve better.
For an evaluation with Dr. Carragher, please call (323) 874-9355 or email firstname.lastname@example.org