Helene Leonetti Discusses Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy, interview by Andrea Hartley

Helene Leonetti photoQ. You have been prescribing bio-identical hormone therapy for 24 years, what do you think of Suzanne Sommers approach to bio-identical hormone thereapy?

A. With gratitude to Suzanne Sommers for getting the news out to women I provide my perspective:

I am a very opinionated lady, and I will be sharing my feelings on some passionate belief systems. Firstly, I am grateful that this lovely lady with her great celebrity status has brought to the forefront a woman’s right to feel vibrant and sexy, regardless of her age. Her work with Life Extension has provided insight into the benefits of transdermal hormones (through the skin).  But I do not agree with doing serum blood testing to follow how these hormones behave in our bodies.

Measuring the hormones in the serum (the straw colored liquid once the red blood cells are spun down in a centrifuge) is like looking outside for the car keys you dropped on your kitchen floor. It serves me not: hormones measured in the blood this way tells me what is partially protein bound, inactive, not what is actually happening in our cell tissue. And that is why I use saliva testing to see where our hormones are, including estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and cortisol- 4x in one day, to see the state of our adrenal health (our immune state). Delivering hormones through the skin or into the vagina is a magnificent approach to bypass the liver first pass and minimize any inflammatory response or blood clots.  An additional method for accurate testing is by a finger stick measuring capillary blood, and offered, along with saliva testing, by ZRT lab, which I have used these long 24 years.

Q. How safe and effective is it?

A. John R. Lee, MD, my beloved friend and mentor, handed me the torch upon his death to get the word out about the safety and effectiveness of transdermal progesterone cream, alone or in combination with estrogen, and/or testosterone. With his encouragement, I have published three research trials available for your perusal on my website (www.helenebleonettimd.com) The most important thing is that I listen to your story: are you having hot flashes, depression, insomnia, painful, dry sex?—then along with the testing provide a formulae to bring you back into often a better balance than before: and one that can help you as you dance through the hormone years joyfully.

Q. What do you think of the Anti-Aging Movement?

A. More and more doctors are becoming certified as ‘anti-aging specialists.’ Dear God, I do not want to go back to my brain-dead anxious years when I did not know my magnificence , and spent many wasted years looking outside myself for someone to love me, when it was ME who needed to love me. Now, with my not so sexy breasts that are tending to go south, as are my lovely eyelids, and my numerous spider veins and cellulite on my legs, I nonetheless can look in the mirror—buck naked, as I tell my fellow goddesses—and say, “Helene, I love you EXACTLY as you are.” And I mean it. I do not want to be an anti-anything: I want to celebrate my wise-woman years, and strive to be the best I can be in the present package I am. That takes a lot of heat off me. And most importantly, I have peace and joy knowing I am enough.

Q. Can you please share with us how you came to be able to know that you are enough and love yourself exactly how you are even as you age?

A. Simple, dear One: every day I meditate, and before share gratitude for the people in my life that help teach me lessons.  There is no magic bullet: I look in the mirror daily and say, “I love you EXACTLY as you are: failings, limitations, foolish thoughts; and as well, I love you for your wisdom, generosity, compassion, and amazing gifts.”  The meditation keeps me rooted in the NOW which is the only dimension of truth, peace, acceptance– and away from the past and future which represent illusion.  The ‘if only’ and ‘what if’ thinking robs us of the blessed gift of the present.  PS I have to work on self love DAILY: when assisting others comes easily and with generousness of spirit, I know I am succeeding.

Q. What do you think about women getting their periods back when they are on bio-identical hormone therapy in the manner in which Suzanne Sommers recommends?

A. The dosing of hormones Suzanne Sommers recommends, at least in the past, under the influence of T.S. Wiley (‘the Wiley protocol ‘) is progressively higher doses of estrogen used, with some progesterone, then both stopped after, I believe three weeks, when a menstrual withdrawal would occur, whether patients were 40 and perimenopausal or 90. This, to me, is unacceptable.  One does not need to use high dosing to ‘anti-age’ and bleed as if teenagers.  This is not only foolish, but unsafe.  Less is always better, and balance always the byword.