by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP
In my practice, I’ve found that educating women about their lab results right away allows them to track their own progress and gives them more power and incentive to make positive changes in their lives — before needing a prescription or a procedure.
This section is geared toward giving you some essential information that I feel all women deserve to have at their fingertips. By understanding more about routine medical tests for women, you can begin better advocating for yourself:
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
- C-reactive protein (CRP and hs-CRP)
- Iron and ferritin
- Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA)
- Vitamin D
- Luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
- N-telopeptide (NTx)
- Blood glucose
- Lipid profile
“Within normal limits” — not the same as optimally healthy
As a practitioner of functional medicine, my “normal” ranges are often narrower than those used in conventional medicine.
As a rule of thumb for interpreting many lab test results, I take the median of the two extremes and then add 25% on either side of that number. If patients fall outside of this range, we’ll want to start making nutritional and lifestyle changes right away.
These choices can often reverse a trend before the changes become degenerative, chronic, or permanent.
A lot of our medical technology and testing is geared toward simply finding and tracking health problems, rather than preventing them in the first place — and many practitioners use labs and imaging studies as signposts of disease rather than looking at the overall portrait they paint of a woman’s health. I can’t tell you how many women have come to me saying they had no idea they were headed down the path toward diabetes, heart disease, or hypothyroidism until they’d progressed so far their practitioners were recommending prescription drugs.
The reality is that in today’s busy medical practices most practitioners don’t have time to sit and explain each test and each result to their patients. In my recent article on the truth about modern healthcare, I explain why you are your own best health advocate.