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Hormonal Vulnerability and the Spa Professional

By: Geoffrey Redmond, MD
Posted: June 24, 2008, from the February 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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The brain’s chemistry exerts profound effects on the emotions. Studies in animals have established that estrogen and progesterone directly affect nerve cell function in the brain. Women experience this when their feelings tend to change during the menstrual cycle. Typically, the first two weeks are fairly calm. Problems often occur after ovulation, when progesterone rises, and about 10 days later, when it falls abruptly. Although it originally was believed that progesterone was good for PMS, more recent research demonstrates that, on the contrary, it often triggers mood swings. During the week preceding menstruation, moods tend to fluctuate, and frustration or minor annoyances tend to produce outbursts of temper, followed by remorse.

Although these emotional changes are mainly due to changes in brain chemistry, the physical discomforts of this phase contribute as well. It’s hard to be cheerful when you are in pain.


When prescribed properly, testosterone can help many women to recapture the pleasure of sexual intimacy. On the other hand, the adverse effects of testosterone on skin and hair, such as hair loss, are profoundly depressing to affected women. There is a current tendency to prescribe testosterone to women in order to rev up a dwindling sex drive. Unfortunately, few doctors who prescribe it have adequate knowledge of the effects of this powerful hormone on women’s bodies. In most of my professional observations, the doses are grossly excessive. In my practice, I frequently see women who have been prescribed testosterone creams by other doctors that result in them having blood levels of the hormone that are in the male range. The use of testosterone needs to be in appropriate doses for the female body.

Hope for hormonal vulnerability

Women with hormonal vulnerability need three kinds of help. First, they require validation that their symptoms are real and are experienced often by other women, and not simply in their heads. Second, they need accurate information as to what is causing the disturbing changes in their appearance, bodily comfort, emotions and sexuality. Finally, they seek specific information on how hormonal vulnerability can be relieved. A variety of steps can be taken to alleviate symptoms, including implementing changes in lifestyle, nutrition and spiritual practices, as well as taking medication. Women who are hormonally vulnerable should learn as much about the condition as possible in order to seek help from medical professionals. It is critical to remain persistent about finding treatments that work. Spas also can offer various services that make a noticeable difference.

General References

  1. Oleson T and Flocco W, Randomized controlled study of premenstrual symptoms treated with ear, hand, and foot reflexology, Obstetrics & Gynecology 82 (6), 906-11 (December1993)
  2. Redmond G, The Hormonally Vulnerable Woman, ReganBooks/ HarperCollins (2005)
  3. Smith MJ, Schmidt PJ, Su TP and Rubinow DR, Gonadotropin- releasing hormone-stimulated donadotropin levels in women with premenstrual dysphoria, Gynecol Endocrinol 19 (6), 335-43 (December 2004)