It’s no secret that women need different medical care than men. Our parts are different, our hormones are different, and that means that you have to pay that much more attention to your body in order to be the healthiest you can.* Here are two tests–the Hormone Panel, Thyroid Panel–suggested by doctors that I have both worked with and intervieed–that gave me a deeper glimpse into my health, and they may help you too. So ask about them now!
The Hormone Panel
I cannot stress enough the importance of knowing the health and status of your hormones. According to several doctors I’ve interviewed, including neurologist Dr. Romie Mushtaq and naturopathic doctor and hormone expert Dr. Carrie Jones, knowing your hormone balance is critical to understanding the overall picture of your health.
Here’s what sent me in to my doctor. I started to experience a gradual but noticeable weight gain over a period of five months after having our third baby. That, combined with the fact that I was experiencing higher levels of anxiety during the week leading up to my period, sent me to search out answers.
The Hormone Panel test that I did was a saliva test and measured estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and cortisol. I was able to go through the results with my doctor to understand that both my cortisol and testosterone were low, which my doctor said may have been behind some of the mood and body changes I was experiencing.
I’m on a supplement protocol now to address some of these issues, and I look forward to reporting back over the next six months or so to tell you guys how everything works out!
The Thyroid Panel
Yeah yeah.. you’ve heard this before: Thyroid health is so important for women, who tend to experience issues with their thyroids as they age. But here’s something I never knew until my interview with Dr. Romie. The thyroid is put under incredible stress during both pregnancy and the postpartum period. So that’s why it’s not uncommon to see women have issues with their thyroid after going through this experience in particular, and why it’s even more critical to keep an eye on this particular function of your body.
So when you go into your doctor for your blood panel and you want them to check your thyroid, Dr. Romie says you must request they do the full panel. Dr. Romie says many thyroid disorders are missed if you only get the TSH levels tested. So make sure you ask for the entire panel, which may include—but may not be limited to—other thyroid markers like free T4, free T3, and reverse T3.
Other Things to Pay Attention To
The “Sunshine” Vitamin
D3 levels are also important, which Dr. Mushtaq says is also considered a “pro hormone,” which means that it has considerable interplay and influence on the rest of your body, including your thyroid. People with darker skins may need more sunlight exposure to get this vitamin naturally, and if you can’t get it by the sunshine alone, you can supplement with vitamins. Ask your doctor to get the best recommendation for you.
The Mineral You’re Probably Low On
Dr. Mushtaq and Dr. Jones both stressed the importance of magnesium as well. I seriously can’t wait for you all to hear my episode with Dr. Jones (still working on it!), but as you’ll hear her say, magnesium is another mineral that helps to regulate other critical body functions, so it’s important you’re getting the level that’s right for you. Ask your doctor about this one too!
Screen Time Warning
And finally, watch your digital intake. Dr. Romie and I really dug into this one as well. It goes without saying, but the amount and type of social media and other Internet fare that you consume does end up impacting your overall mood and mental health. So be careful of what, and how much, you consume.
“We’re using social media as mind-numbing medicine.”
–Dr. Romie Mushtaq
- Disclaimer: This article is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice. I am not a medical professional (DUH), just a woman who has seen the benefits of working with a good and thorough doctor, and talking with experts in various medical fields. All content in this article is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be substituted for the care and advice of your medical provider.