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Hormone Imbalances in Female and Male MS Patients
(modified from the Summer 2005 New Horizons)
It may be important for all women diagnosed with MS, either young ones first developing MS or women going through menopause, to have their hormone levels checked. It may be just as important for men with MS to have their hormones checked too.
It is a very practical suggestion, considering that progesterone is involved in remylination and testosterone is involved in muscle strength.
During pregnancy, women, who get MS at twice the level of men, find that their MS is much less active. Even though this observation has been known for a long time, it wasn’t until the last few years that researchers began to look into this hormone aspect more thoroughly.
8 mg Estriol Study with Female MS Patients
A study published in the October 2002 Annals of Neurology, reported on the significant results Dr. Rhonda Voskuhl obtained treating females with relapsing-remitting MS with a daily 8 mg estriol tablet, the safest and least active estrogen hormone.
Their symptoms improved, the number and size of their brain lesions decreased and their cognitive test scores improved. When the estriol was stopped, their symptoms came back and their MRI’s showed progression.
Unfortunately these same beneficial responses were not seen with women with the more advanced chronic progressive stage.
Italian Study of Hormone Levels in MS Patients
An Italian research team led by Dr. Carlo Pozzilli of the Depart of Neurological Sciences at the University La Sapienza did an in-depth analysis of hormone levels in 60 MS patients (35 women and 25 men), contrasted with a control group of 36 people who did not have MS. The hormones tested included estradiol, testosterone, DHEA, progesterone, follicle-stimulating and luteinizing hormone.
Their results were reported in The Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry (2005;76: 272-275). The MRI results showed that there were a higher number of gadolinium-enhancing lesions in women with low testosterone levels compared to those with normal testosterone levels. These women with MS and low testosterone levels had more of the inflammatory lesions which are seen during a relapse in the people who have the relapsing-remitting stage of MS. The researchers tested the women during both phases of their menstrual cycle to check for cyclical hormone variations. All the women in the study had normal cycles and none of them were on oral contraceptives.
A few of the 35 MS women in the study were found to have high levels of testosterone. These MS patients were the ones that had more permanent disability as measured by the Expanded Disability Status Scale.
There was no difference found in testosterone levels in men with MS or without the disease.
In men, the greatest degree of brain tissue damage correlated to them having the highest levels of the female hormone estradiol.
The information gained from this study, as well as the results obtained by Dr. Rhonda Voskuhl using estriol with early MS patients, might encourage MS patients to have their hormone levels tested early in their disease process.
A simple self-administered, saliva hormone test can be ordered by anyone from: www.salivatest.com
A minimum first test for women might include progesterone, testosterone and estradiol. This lab provides free phone consultation with physicians on staff to discuss each person’s individual results.
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