You have your first doctor’s appointment but you really don’t understand what it is all about, or what you need to do to get started. Here is an explanation of what you can expect.
You have decided to take the plunge and see the doctor because you are not feeling the way you want to feel, have weight that won’t come off, or depression and fatigue have taken over your everyday life. But how does hormone therapy work? The first step is that you know you need to get help. It will get better from there.
Call a LongevityMed Practitioner for Age Management and say you want to get started but don’t know-how. You will have to give some information about yourself over the phone or be asked to fill out a questionnaire that asks about your health and any symptoms you are having. Pay your initial fee upfront. This covers your initial lab work and the actual consultation with the doctor. If you already have some lab work of your own, the nurse can ask the doctor if the initial fee may be less based on the fact that your lab work is enough as long as it is done within a very recent time frame to your appointment. Your appointment will then be made to get your lab work done a week before your doctor visit and then a consultation time will also be assigned to you. This seems to be the most confusing to some people but timing the lab work to be done so that results are back for your appointment is crucial, or the doctor cannot recommend your therapy without lab results.
Your consultation with a LongevityMed Practitioner is your time to tell them everything that is going on with you. Don’t hold back because you are embarrassed or believe the doctor won’t understand. If you have issues with your menstrual cycle, be open to discuss it. If you are having sexual issues, it is important to say just that. Libido may be a big concern for you, but if you don’t let the doctor know, it can affect what your dose is for medications prescribed. Here is why:
- You are a unique individual. Your hormone levels will not be exactly like anyone else’s. A good number for estrogen or testosterone for someone else may not be a good number for you. Some men and women feel better with lower numbers and others need a higher level to get the results they hope to achieve. By results, we mean symptom relief while in a therapeutic hormone level range. Hormone levels are to be attained in a way to not overdose or give you super-human results but to replace what you are missing. If your friend tells you they feel best with a testosterone level of “abc”, your level may make you feel best at “xyz”. Yet you are both feeling better and within a good therapeutic range, at a range designed for your body. We all burn up our hormones at different rates, depending on stress, activity, and metabolic rate. Do talk with your friends to learn and get information, but do not feel your levels need to be exactly the same as them.
- The doctor will prescribe your hormones and supplements based on your levels and needs There are different routes you can take with medications, such as capsules, topical creams, sublinguals, and injections. You may have a preference based on your lifestyle, but the doctor may also need to work with you on what route to take, depending on which will work best for your problems. Then you will go home and try it. Most of the prescriptions will be sent to you from compounding pharmacies we work with, or you can get them yourself depending on what type of plan you choose. Supplements can be bought at any store or pharmacy that carries them, or online. Supplements are mostly very inexpensive. Hormones prescribed from LongevityMed will always be bio-identical.
- This brings up “the plan.” After you find out your hormone needs, you will decide what plan to go on. Knowing how much or how little you need as far as your therapy will help you schedule the frequency of future visits and establish the cost. Most patients receive consultations every three or four months, getting lab work done a week prior to each appointment. It can take up to a year to build levels and work up to finding your “sweet spot,” where you are feeling your best with your levels in perfect sync. Your hormones didn’t decline overnight and the amount of time it takes to balance them can vary. The payment plans are ways to divide up payments that cover all the appointments, medications, and lab work. It is a big savings if you figure out the price of everything done individually, and also keeps you on track with being regulated. Your hormone levels are going to fluctuate naturally and you may need your dosages tweaked at times to adapt. Your symptoms can also fluctuate. Any program that does not check your levels three to four times a year is not monitoring you safely. You should have regular appointments to give yourself opportunities to also talk with the doctor, tell him of changes, and ask questions. Nobody can quote you a monthly fee until you have your first appointment to check your levels and see what your needs are. You may find out that you are doing better than you think and the cost is not as expensive as anticipated. Just relax and see what your baseline is. We recommend treatment for a minimum of six months to allow Dr. Grant enough time to optimize your hormone levels.
Many people notice relief of symptoms within the first few weeks: Mental clarity, more energy, fewer headaches or migraines, or even help with depression. Some people will have symptom relief in a longer amount of time. As mentioned, it takes some time to get your levels back up. Since some symptoms are easier to see relief with than others, it may take some patience.
In the first year or two of your therapy, you may want to keep a copy of your lab results and take notes on them. Write in the margins what your symptoms are at that time. In time, you will know how your levels are by the way you feel and you can compare that with your lab work. It will give you a better understanding of interpreting how your body works. Never adjust your dose without consulting your LongevityMed practitioner first. If you correlate how your lab levels make you feel, you can understand how your body deals with stress and fatigue.
The usual question to be addressed is insurance. Most insurances just don’t cover natural hormone therapies or anything that is considered anti-aging medicine. We hope in the future things will change. Someday it will be widely accepted that prevention is less costly than treating sickness. Participating in hormone therapy and giving time for the world to see its effects will someday make the difference. In the meantime, payments must be made as services are given, but the office can tell you how to submit your expenses to your insurance company if you are able to get any reimbursements.
Lastly, but still very important, diet and exercise play a major role in hormone replacement therapy. You may not feel like making much effort in that direction at first if you are not already into a healthy routine. In time, when you can tell that your hormone therapy is giving you more energy and desire, you will want to make those changes. You will look forward to adding healthier foods and being more physically active.
Deciding to make the first appointment is the biggest step for many men and women. Schedule a consultation today at LongevityMed and we will be happy to help you on your journey to hormonal balance.