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Women's Health FAQs

Three Generations of women for Women Health FAQ pageThis FAQ page is intended to help answer questions you may have about women’s health issues and some of the products we offer.

The following information is for reference purposes and is not intended to substitute for advice given by a physician, pharmacist, or other licensed health-care professional. You should not use this information as self-diagnosis or for treating a health problem or disease. We strongly urge you to consult with your health-care provider before you embark on any supplement regime and if you suspect that you have a medical problem.

Women's Health Topics


Uterine Fibroid Tumors

Q. What are fibroids made of?
A. The matrix of a fibroid can be formed from excess fibrin, smooth muscle tissue, and generally, pockets of estrogen.

Q. What causes uterine fibroids and other women’s fibrosis conditions?
A. There may be different causes of uterine fibroids. For example, hereditary factors, trauma, and estrogen dominance. According to many health care professionals, estrogen dominance is the root cause of fibroids and other fibrosis conditions.

Q. What are the different types of fibroids?
A. There are four different types: Subserous (outer wall), Submucosal (inside the uterine cavity, Intramural (within the uterine wall), Penduculated (attached to the uterus by a stalk).

Q. Can fibroids grow in different parts of the uterus?
A. Yes, fibroids can grow in many different locations around and in the uterus simultaneously.

Q. What are some of the symptoms associated with uterine fibroids?
A. Heavy menstrual bleeding, irregular menstrual bleeding and spotting, pelvic pressure and pain, cramping, urinary frequency and urgency, constipation and hemorrhoids, infertility, loss of pregnancy.

Q. Can I expect to see a discharge as the fibroid is breaking down?
A. It depends; if the fibroid(s) are inside the uterine cavity, you may notice a discharge. This is a common sign that the lysing (dissolving) of the fibroid is occurring. The color of this discharge can range from clear to white to blood red or brown periodically during the first few months. If you experience any discharge that alarms you, please consult with your doctor. If the fibroid(s) are in the uterine lining, they will be broken down, carried through the circulatory system and excreted via the bowel.  This is not something one would notice. See Vitalzym Suggested Use for Uterine Fibroids for details.

Q. Will consuming soy feed the growth of uterine fibroids?
A. Soy is a concentrated phytoestrogen. Many women have related that the consumption of soy has contributed to the growth of their fibroid(s). See Environmental Estrogens for more information.

Q. What diet is best when attempting to shrink the growth of fibroids?
A. A low fat, high fiber diet is best. Eating organic meats, fruits and vegetables, and dairy will help eliminate xenoestrogens such as chemical pesticides and human growth hormones that can mimic estrogen in the body.

Q. What is a calcified fibroid?
A. Older fibroids can develop a calcium coating which is basically a hard outer shell that may be the body's way of isolating the fibroid. This calcification can prevent the enzymes from doing their work.

Q. How do I know if my fibroid is calcified?
A. Your doctor should be able to determine this via an ultrasound.

Q. What helps break down the calcification?
A. Magnesium Citrate helps reduce excess calcium in the body when taken alone without calcium. It may help to break down the calcification surrounding larger or older fibroids.

Q. Should I worry about osteoporosis if I take magnesium without calcium for calcification of a fibroid?
A. Generally, our diets are higher in calcium than they are in magnesium. Research demonstrates that magnesium plays a bigger role in the prevention of osteoporosis than originally believed. After fibroids shrink, calcium can be added back into a regimen.

Q. Can I take Calcium D-Glucarate if I have a calcified fibroid?
A. It would be best to avoid additional calcium supplements while attempting to shrink the growth of a calcified fibroid in order to give the magnesium citrate an opportunity to work on reducing the calcification. However, our Calcium D-Glucarate only contains 25mg of calcium, so it should not be a problem if you are also taking higher doses of magnesium citrate.

Q. Can Calcium D-Glucarate have a direct effect on fibroids?
A. Yes, in different ways. This supplement can help prevent the re-absorption of used estrogen from the gastrointestinal tract. As a result, more estrogen is eliminated and less stays in the blood where it may continue to feed the growth of fibroids. Additionally, various studies indicate that this plant extract may be effective in inhibiting tumor growth during the initiation, promotion, and progression phases.

Q. Are there any cautions regarding the use of Calcium D-Glucarate?
A. Yes. It is possible that taking Calcium D-Glucarate could increase the elimination of certain drugs or used hormones from the body, thereby reducing their effectiveness. If you are taking any prescription medication, please consult your physician or pharmacist before taking this supplement.

Q. Is there a connection between large fibroids and low thyroid levels?
A. According to Dr. John Lee, “there appears to be a cause-and-effect relationship between hypothyroidism, in which there are inadequate levels of thyroid hormone, and estrogen dominance. When estrogen is not properly counterbalanced with progesterone it can block the action of thyroid hormones, so that even when the thyroid is producing normal levels of the hormone, the hormone is rendered ineffective and the symptoms of hypothyroidism appear. In this case, laboratory tests may show normal thyroid hormone levels in a woman's system, because the thyroid gland itself is not malfunctioning.”

Q. Do I need Nattokinase if I have fibroids?
A. No, Nattokinase is primarily used for cardiovascular health. Vitalzym contains a blend of enzymes that can help shrink the growth of fibroids without overly thinning the blood. Additionally, it is not suggested to take nattokinase in high doses, as it may overly thin the blood.

READ MORE ABOUT UTERINE FIBROID TUMORS


Fibroids and Vitalzym

Q. Can Vitalzym work on all types of fibroids?
A. Yes. All fibroids are made from the same fibrous substances.

Q. How does Vitalyzm help shrink the growth of fibroids?
A. Vitalzym Extra Strength contains a combination of proteolytic (protein digesting) enzymes that have fibrinolytic activity. This means that they can help break down fibrin in the body. Fibroids are made of fibrin along with smooth muscle cells, and generally pockets of estrogen.

Q. Is Vitalzym alone enough to shrink the growth of fibroids?
A. It is best to control estrogen levels while attempting to shrink the growth of a fibroid, as excess estrogen or estrogen dominance may contribute to accelerated fibroid growth.

Q. When can I expect to see results from using Vitalzym for fibroids?
A.The length of time for Vitalzym to show an effect on a person's fibroid varies from individual to individual. This is because there are many factors involved such as, weight, age, metabolism, health status, lifestyle, diet (eliminate all soy), and exposure to environmental estrogens.

Many women report noticeable changes within about one month. Initial results may include a relief in bladder pressure, less frequent urination, or the ability to do an exercise that previously caused discomfort.

Q. How long should I take Vitalzym before having a follow-up evaluation with my doctor?
A. It is suggested to use Vitalzym for at least three to six months. Wait at least 4 months before evaluating your results with an examination, ultrasound, or MRI.

Q. Should I expect any additional bleeding while using Vitalzym for fibroids?
A. Women who are anemic or have heavy periods may experience some additional bleeding while on Vitalzym. The enzymes in Vitalzym are a mild blood thinner. If you experience additional or heavier bleeding, you may consider reducing your dosage of Vitalzym during your period. If you are anemic, consider supplementing with iron temporarily. As your fibroids shrink, symptoms such as heavy periods will diminish, and you can continue with the higher doses of Vitalzym during your period. You may also consider Energetic B-12 Spray.

Q. Is there a certain time during my menstrual cycle when I should begin taking Vitalzym for fibroids or can I start taking it at any time?
A. Vitalzym does not interfere with hormones directly; therefore, you can start taking them at any time during your cycle. If you experience extremely heavy bleeding or are anemic during this time, you may want to start taking Vitalzym after your menses are over.

Q. I read that some women with large fibroids take up to 10 Vitalzym caps per day. Is this necessary? Or should I initially start at 8 and see if there are results at that dosage?
A. Large, mature fibroids can be stubborn and may need higher doses of enzymes to help break them down. You can take 8 Vitalzym Extra Strength per day (in divided doses on an empty stomach) for 4 months and then have an ultrasound. If there are no signs of shrinkage you can increase your dose up to 12 capsules per day for 3 more months and then have another ultrasound.

Q. Can I take Vitalzym while pregnant?
A. DO NOT take Vitalzym for fibroids if you are pregnant. While a fibroid is being lysed away pockets of estrogen are sometimes released. Any increase in estrogen during pregnancy could cause miscarriage. VITALZYM HAS NOT BEEN TESTED ON PREGNANT OR NURSING WOMEN, SO USE ONLY WITH THE GUIDANCE OF YOUR HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL.

Q. Can I still get pregnant after I shrink my fibroids with Vitalzym?
A. Vitalzym will not damage your organs, nor does it directly affect your hormones. Vitalzym itself would not prevent you from becoming pregnant after shrinking your fibroids. However, if you have some other condition that would prevent a successful pregnancy, or a damaged uterus, shrinking your fibroids and taking Vitalzym will not correct that situation.


Taking Vitalzym for Women's Health Issues

Q. Can I take Vitalzym even though I am menopausal/postmenopausal?
A. Yes, the aging process depletes normal enzyme levels. Enzymes can be helpful for many different conditions associated with aging, as well as for fibroids.

Q. Is it okay to use Vitalzym if I am not menopausal or postmenopausal?
A. Yes, women of all ages can also benefit from Vitalzym Systemic Enzymes. Vitalzym is especially beneficial to those in their later twenties, which is when natural enzyme resources begin to decline.

Q. Can Vitalyzm help reduce the thickness of the uterine lining?
A. Estrogen dominance is often the cause of a thickened uterine lining and without the monthly balancing effects of progesterone, the uterus does not receive the proper signals to stop growing. Therefore, a natural progesterone cream can help this condition.

Q. Can Vitalzym help with endometriosis?
A. The exact cause of endometriosis is not fully understood. One theory is that menstrual tissue builds in the fallopian tubes, ending up in various abdominal cavities, and then continues to grow. Some health care professionals agree that all women experience some degree of menstrual tissue backup.

However, they also feel that an under-active immune system or a hormonal problem can allow the endometrial tissue to grow in those who develop endometriosis. Vitalzym may help to modulate (or boost) the immune system in these cases. If the immune system is over active, Vitalzym can tone it down. Additionally, there is a relation between endometriosis and fibrous tissue which Vitalzym is known to help reduce.

Q. Will Vitalzym interfere with birth control pills?
A. No, Vitalzym does not have a direct effect on hormones; therefore, it will not inhibit them from working. The enzymes in Vitalzym can increase the effectiveness of some medications so you may want to discuss combining the two with your doctor.

Q. Can I take Lupron with Vitalzym?
A. Women have reported that they have used Vitalzym in conjunction with a Lupron program. However, because Vitalzym can increase the effectiveness of some medications always consult your doctor or pharmacist before use.

Q. Once I shrink my fibroids with Vitalzym, will the fibroids grow back, or do I have to use it for the rest of my life?
A. Vitalzym does not stop your body from growing fibroids; it only helps to dissolve excess fibrin which may help to shrink an existing fibroids. In order to stop your body from growing fibroids, the problem of estrogen dominance needs to be brought under control (estrogen dominance is the most common cause of fibroid growth). If the estrogen dominance is not under control, you could potentially grow more tumors. You can take a maintenance dose of Vitalzym (4 per day) until menopause to help shrink anything new that starts to grow, or you can take a bottle every six months or so to help shrink what has grown since the last bottle. At menopause your body's estrogen levels drop dramatically, and the potential to grow more fibroids greatly diminishes.

Q. Can I take Vitalzym while I'm menstruating?
A.The majority of women do not have a problem taking Vitalzym while menstruating. However, Vitalzym is a mild blood thinner, and it can contribute to additional bleeding for some women, especially if they are anemic. If this occurs, reduce the Vitalzym dose or stop it altogether while menstruating. In many cases, excessive bleeding during menses begins to improve after one to two months.

Q. What if I am anemic?
A. If you have been clinically diagnosed as anemic, or suspect that you are anemic (please confirm with your physician), it is important to address the anemia as well. Sometimes additional bleeding is from tiny blood vessels that are exposed when the tumors are breaking down. You may still take Vitalzym if you are anemic, but may want to reduce the dose during menstruation as mentioned above. Please consult with your doctor before doing so. Some people who are clinically anemic (i.e. blood tests have confirmed that you are anemic) also supplement with SSS liquid iron tonic and a liquid sublingual B12 with folic acid.


Estrogen Dominance

Q. How is estrogen dominance defined?
A. Dr. John Lee coined the term “estrogen dominance,” which is described as a condition where a woman may have deficient, normal, or excessive estrogen but has little or no progesterone to balance its effects in the body.

Q. What causes estrogen dominance?
A. There are many factors that can lead to a hormonal imbalance. Some factors include: diet, stress, impaired liver function, environmental chemical toxicities, lack of exercise, nutritional deficiencies, hormone replacement therapy, and estrogen dominance.

Q. Can a woman have symptoms of estrogen dominance even if her estrogen levels are low?
A. Yes, this can occur if a woman is not producing progesterone.

Q. How do I know if I am estrogen dominant?
A. Symptoms of estrogens dominance vary from mild to severe. This includes a wide array of symptoms and may vary from person to person. It is also possible to test hormone levels via saliva, urine or blood tests. Read our Estrogen Dominance page for more information.

Q. Can I be estrogen dominant even though I am in menopause or postmenopausal?
A. Yes, even though a menopausal/postmenopausal woman may not be producing as much estrogen, she can still be exposed to xenoestrogens. Using Calcium d-Glucarate can be beneficial in eliminating unhealthy circulating estrogens. Additionally, the reduction of progesterone production during and after menopause contributes to this imbalance.

Q. Should I have my hormones tested to determine if I am estrogen dominant?
A. It is a good idea to have your hormone levels checked to determine the status of your estrogen levels, as well as testosterone and progesterone which can be out of balance, especially if there is excess circulating estrogen.

Q. Is it better to have a hormone test from blood or saliva?
A. According to Dr. Lee, protein-bound hormones (progesterone, testosterone, estrogen) are more soluble in the water component of blood. While bound to protein in the blood, only a small percentage of the hormone is active. Therefore, a blood serum concentration of these hormones is not an accurate measure of active hormones in the body because such a test does not account for the larger amount of hormones on the red blood cell membranes which are fat soluble. A saliva or urine test may yield more accurate results.

Some doctors prefer assessing blood test results together with symptoms to form an individualized assessment of hormone levels.

Q. How do I go about having my hormone levels checked?
A. You can ask your doctor about testing your hormone levels. Search business listings for a local "Compounding Pharmacist". This type of pharmacist formulates bioidentical hormone products for doctors who help with natural hormone balancing. The pharmacist should be able to offer names of physicians who can order this particular type of testing. You may also refer to the link below for a referral of compounding pharmacies and naturopathic doctors in your area.
Naturopathic Physicians

Q. How important is a well-functioning liver for healthy estrogen metabolism?
A. It is very important. The ovaries produce "raw" estrogen in the form of estradiol and estrone. It is the liver's job to metabolize raw estrogens into a safe form known as estriol, which the body utilizes safely. If the liver is overburdened, then it has a hard time metabolizing these estrogens and they are re-circulated throughout the bloodstream and deposited in uterine and breast tissues, as well at fat cells.

Q. Does being overweight play a role in estrogen dominance?
A. Yes, for reasons mentioned above. When “raw” estrogen is not metabolized properly, excess unmetabolized estrogen can be deposited and stored in fat cells.

Q. Is there any type of diet that can help control estrogen dominance?
A. Yes, you can help lower your estrogen levels by reducing excess calorie intake, avoiding sugars and refined carbohydrates, maintaining a high-fiber diet, and supplementing with high-fiber products such as rice bran. Drinking more than two cups of coffee per day has been shown to increase estrogen levels. Eliminating soy products and other phytoestrogens is also important.

Q. What are Phytoestrogens and can they contribute to estrogen dominance?
A. Phytoestrogens (phyto meaning plant) are naturally occurring estrogenic compounds that are found in almost all varieties of foods, herbs, and spices. The chemical structure of phytoestrogens resembles estrogen. However, these compounds are considered weak estrogens when compared to real estrogen and xenoestrogens. It is important to remember that when the body is already estrogen dominant, adding estrogen of any type can increase this condition.

Q. What are some examples of foods and herbs that have phytoestrogens?
A. Some of the strongest phytoestrogen containing substances are soy, lignins in flaxseed, red clover, black cohosh, chasteberry, and dong quai. Soy includes soybeans, soy milk, soy protein powders and bars, tofu, tempeh, textured vegetable protein, roasted soybeans, soy granules, miso, and edamame beans (raw soy beans).

Q. I thought phytoestrogens were supposed to be good for women and women's fibrosis conditions?
A. You can consume plant foods (other than soy or flax) such as, leafy greens, legumes, and whole grains safely because they act as harmless, mild estrogens. Therefore, they compete against the stronger, more harmful estrogens for the body's hormone receptor sites. Herbs and foods that are highly phytoestrogenic should only be used for short periods of time to correct an imbalance when fibroids are not present and estrogen dominance is not an issue. Long term use of such herbs can lead to increased estrogen levels.

Q. Can estrogen dominance lead to vitamin/mineral deficiencies?
A. Excess estrogen can create nutrient deficiencies of zinc, magnesium, and all of the B Vitamins. Every one of these dietary nutrients is essential for the maintenance of hormonal balance.


DIM

Q. What is DIM and how does it help to shrink uterine fibroids?
A. DIM is a blend of cruciferous vegetables. Research shows it helps metabolize unhealthy circulating estrogens (estrone, estradiol) into the good form (estriol) for both women and men. It can also help "free" testosterone from a binding protein produced by the liver when estrogen is too high. When this hormone is bound, it can have undesirable effects. DIMPRO is generally recommended for women who are in their child bearing years or are premenopausal with higher estrogen levels and men with hormone imbalances.

Q. Should I take DIM on an empty stomach or with food?
A. DIM is a fat soluble supplement and should be taken with food or just after a meal for best absorption.

Q. What is an estrogen flair reaction in relation to taking DIM?
A. Women with fibroids often experience bloating just before the period begins. This can be intense, especially for women taking DIM. When estrogen-dependent fibroids do not get the estrogen they want, due to the effects of DIM, they can cause swelling, bloating, and other symptoms known as the "estrogen flair reaction". This usually occurs right before the start of your period if you are limiting the estrogen every way possible, through diet, DIM, and other supplements. If this happens to you, that doesn't necessarily indicate that your fibroid is growing. These symptoms often improve after the first month or two on DIM.

Q. Is it okay to take DIM if I am menopausal or postmenopausal?
A. DIM is a stronger metabolizer of excess estrogen, and therefore you would want to adjust your dosage accordingly to avoid lowered-estrogen symptoms.

Q. Can I take Lupron with DIM?
A. Using DIMPRO while having Lupron shots is not advisable. It would be better to use Calcium D-Glucarate instead. This will help your body rid itself of any harmful estrogens that may not be excreted otherwise.

Q. Why does DIM contain an estrogenically derived ingredient (phosphatidylcholine) if its purpose is to metabolize estrogen?
A. The minimal amount of this ingredient which does not contain phytoestrogenic activity will not increase estrogen dominance. The supplement facts section on our DIM page explains the following in regard to the ingredient phosphatidylcholine:

DIM contains phosphatidylcholine (derived from soy); in a form that does not include any phytoestrogens.


Natural Progesterone Cream

Q. How do I use natural Progesterone Cream?
A. The use of progesterone cream depends on whether you are menstruating, perimenopausal, or menopausal/postmenopausal. Directions for suggested use can be found on the back label, or our product website page.

Q. Can I use natural progesterone cream with phytoestrogens?
A. You can use natural progesterone cream with phytoestrogens if you do not have estrogen dominance or a fibrosis condition, such as uterine fibroids or fibrocystic breasts. This product is best used by those who are menopausal or postmenopausal without being estrogen dominant.

Q. Can natural progesterone cream cause breakthrough bleeding?
A. Yes, a progesterone deficiency can cause the estrogen receptors to "tune down" when a woman begins using progesterone cream, this reactivates those receptors; which can temporarily cause buildup of the endometrium, with spotting and irregular bleeding. Many women find a relief of these estrogenic symptoms within a couple of cycles.

Q. Why is it suggested to take a break during the month when using a natural progesterone cream?
A. According to Dr. John Lee, “this break will protect against endometrial thickening in the uterus by allowing for a complete shedding of the uterine lining each month.” This does not mean that natural progesterone cream would stop a period; it simply means that it will help prevent the uterus from becoming thickened which can be a result of incomplete shedding due to low progesterone levels.

Q. When should I have a saliva test done for progesterone levels?
A. It would be best to discuss this matter with your healthcare professional who is conducting such a test, as times would differ for women in different stages of life such as menstruating, perimenopausal, or menopausal.

Q. Can having a progesterone test tell me if I am ovulating?
A. Yes, if your progesterone levels are low during the luteal phase, it is a good indication that you are not ovulating.

Q. When does the ovulatory cycle begin?
A. In a 28 day cycle, the ovulatory phase occurs in the second half of the menstrual cycle; around the 14th day (after the 1st day of your menses), peaks around the 21st day which is when the luteal phase happens and then progesterone begins to decline until the menstrual cycle begins.

Q. Shouldn’t I wait to start the progesterone cream on day 14-15 after I ovulate rather on the suggested 7th or 12th day?
A. In menstruating women progesterone levels start rising as the ovulatory phase begins (around day 14) and peaks about one week later before beginning to decline. Therefore, applying Progesta-Care prior to the ovulatory phase insures there is enough progesterone to be sure you ovulate and shed the uterine lining properly.

The time when one begins using Progesta-Care differs. According to Life-Flo’s package instructions, menstruating (ovulating) women in their reproductive years start using Progesta-Care on the 12th day. Perimenopausal women start on the 7th day and menopausal/post-menopausal women use it for 25 consecutive days, and then take a 5 day break.

Q. If my cycle is irregular, on what day do I start using the progesterone cream?
A. If you are in the menstrual phase of life you can begin to count 12 days after the last time you started bleeding within the month and begin to use the cream through day 27. Peri-menopausal women can count to the 7th day after onset of bleeding within the month and use through the 27th day.

Q. When should I start using progesterone cream if I bleed for most of the month?
A. If you have had continuous bleeding just pick any day within the month and count 7 days for peri-menopausal women and 12 days for menopausal women, then from that starting point use the cream to what would be day 27 of your cycle.

Q. If I have had irregular cycles, how long can it take for natural progesterone cream to help normalize it?
A. It may take up to three months until you begin having more normal menstrual cycles.

Q. Can natural progesterone help with low libido?
A. Many women report having increased sex drives after using progesterone cream. If this condition does not improve within 6 months, you may want to have your testosterone levels checked.

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