Episode 13: Endometriosis – Interview with Stefanie Ancona

Dr. Deb invites her close friend, current patient, and Endometriosis advocate, Stefanie Ancona, on Let’s Talk Wellness Now for a raw look into Stefanie’s life with Endometriosis. Stefanie opens up about her personal medical history, the ways she’s bravely battled Endometriosis, and the journey that led her to Dr. Deb’s office. Together they speak about the role bio-identical hormone replacement therapy have played in Stefanie’s life, and the differences between the treatments suggested at Serenity Health Care Center compared to conventional doctor’s offices.

She has an amazing story, that I think every woman, and man, needs to hear! So that people understand… kind of what happens with Endometrisosis – what it is and what your options are for care. But also, how do you become a better advocate for yourself?

– Dr. Deb on Stefanie’s journey

Stefanie touches on her early symptoms, what she was told by doctors when she was a teenager, and the treatment they chose for her.

I immediately started having cramping… I was told by the doctor “it’s cramping – deal with it”… I started to have more painful periods, to the point where, at my worst, felt like I was having someone stab me in the stomach with a knife – and I had to walk around like that all day… I was given Tylenol with codeine…

I labeled myself as a “curmudgeon”. I did not want to leave the house, it was hard to get out of bed, to choose the outfit I was going to wear… you wake up sweating, you sweat in the shower…

– Stefanie on some of her symptoms

Dr. Deb and Stefanie speak about traditional treatment of Endometriosis, Western Estrogen, hysterectomies, medically induced menopause, dealing with mood swings, painful periods, hot flashes, fatigue, brain fog, aging, and ultimately the benefits that bio-identical hormones can play in combating them.

So when you came to me, we talked about all these other hormones that nobody ever talked to you about… the progesterone, the testosterone, and what they all do…

– Dr. Deb on Stefanie’s visit

Listen in to learn how Stefanie has navigated the ups and downs of Endometriosis , what she’s learned on her journey, the benefits she’s received after opting for bio-identical hormone therapy and the advice she would give others battling Endometriosis.

…I do feel like a little Benjamin Buttonish… the old dingy skin has kind of removed… my mind has come back… I will go to bed, and think “ahh, I gotta do something in the morning” and do you know, I wake up the next morning and I remember!

…bio-identical hormones have saved my life, go check them out if you have to. It’s a journey – but it’s a better journey than I was given…

– Stefanie on her progress

Episode 12: Compounding Hormones – Interview with Monica Zatarski

Dr. Deb invites compounding pharmacist and long-time friend, Monica Zatarski, PharmD, RPh from MD Custom Rx in Brookfield, Wisconsin to discuss compounding hormones.

Dr. Deb and Monica discuss everything from compounded hormones vs synthetic hormones, dosing, traditional vs compounding pharmacies to Monica’s background and the right questions to ask your compounding pharmacist!

The joke in my house is that I have the pharmacy gene! My greatest mentor is my father, and he has owned an independent pharmacy since the late 70s. And I can always remember wanting to be a part of that environment… It was scientific and creative, and really allowed to establish some really great relationships with providers and patients. So I went to school (UW Madison – Doctor of Pharmacy), and knew that I wanted to be a compounding pharmacist!

Monica speaks on some of the trends in compounding pharmaceuticals, some of her preferred dosage forms, and the pros and cons of some specific dosage forms.

For all intensive purposes, Hormones that are compounded are going to be identical in structure to what our own bodies make – that’s where the term “bio-identical” comes from. We tend not to call it “human”, we like the term “bio-identical” more so – it’s just a little more accurate because humans aren’t actually the source of the hormone. 

For more information on Monica Zatarski, PharmD, RPh, or MD Custom Rx, please visit

Episode 10: Are Hormones Safe?

Dr. Deb joins the debate on the safety of using hormones. She analyzes the differences between bio-identical hormones and conventional hormones, short-term vs long-term use and the importance of commitment when opting for hormone therapy. She discusses the impact of comfort-level, along with her personal experience with hormones. Are hormones safe to use? How long do we use them? What routes do we use them in?
Over the last 20 years of practicing medicine, we have gone back and forth about whether or not hormones are safe to use or not safe to use. And how long do we use them, and what routes do we use them in? And there’s been a lot of confusion, for women, about whether or not they can safely use hormones… the simple answer to that question is yes – and no.
She analyzes route, testing, dosages, length of course, the critical nature of nutrition, detoxification cleanses and highlights specific hormones.

Episode 9: Genetics and Hormones

Dr. Deb speaks on genetics and hormones, epigenetics, genetic testing, and the significant role genetics play in how we can metabolize hormones. How genetics play a role in detoxification? How genetically modified food plays a role in mutation our genes? Do genetics help defy the aging process? How genes play a role in how we utilize different medications?
I think we need to take a look at it, and practitioners need to decide whether or not genes need to be looked at – or need to be supported.

Episode 8: Peptides

Dr. Deb discusses peptides, peptide therapy and details several specific peptides, alongside their use and benefits. She opens up about her personal experience with peptide therapy, including the role it played in her recovery from surgery. What are peptides? What are they used for? Who is a good candidate for peptide therapy? Why are they so popular? Aren’t they just for bodybuilders? Will they improve my sex life?
A peptide is short chain amino acid… think of them as small protein… currently there are over 7,000 naturally occurring peptides…As of January of 2015, the USDA has actually approved well over 60 peptides for use, and 140 different peptide drugs are currently being evaluated in pre-clinical development – so this is really exciting.
She explains the many benefits of peptide therapy and the long list of issues that peptide can address – such as hormone function, sex drive, influenza, bone loss, weight loss, chronic inflammation, tissue repair and more.
There are a ton of things we can use peptides for these days… we can use them for hormone function…bone loss (like in osteoporosis)…obesity (help eat up fat cells)… there are some that we use for chronic inflammation, and there’s also some that we use for infection…

Episode 2: Hormone Testing

Dr. Deb discusses the value of hormone testing for both men and women. Why do we test for hormones? How do we test hormones? How often should we be tested? What are we looking for in test results?
Really, everyone should have their hormones tested. It doesn’t discriminate whether your male or female – we all need to know where our hormones are at… it gives us a small window view into what’s happening to your body.
Dr. Deb breaks down the differences between saliva testing, blood testing and urine testing, and which method she prefers – and why. Including important tips to follow before your hormone tests.
the biggest thing, with saliva testing, we have to be cautious of – is contamination of that tube. And it’s very easy to contaminate the tube when you’re applying topical hormones, so we usually encourage people to make sure they change their sheets the night before their testing, make sure that they don’t use any hormones for 12 to 24 hours before they collect their sample, make sure you wash your hands very good after applying your hormones…

Episode 1: Why Do We Need Hormones?

Dr. Deb speaks on the importance of hormones, the role they play in our everyday lives, thyroid dysfunction, the endocrine system and the body’s cravings for healthy hormone levels. What do hormones do? Where do hormones come from? What happens when there’s a hormone imbalance? How to treat an imbalance? The function of hormones?
Literally, every cell is in the body is in dire need of hormones…
She discusses her personal thyroid issues, her introduction to the world of integrative medicine and hormonal health, and what she’s learned in her 20-year career treating hormone imbalance.
I remember feeling so devastated, and so broken, and thinking, I’m 28 years old, I just started my career… I have two children at home… what am I going to do? I didn’t have all of the signs and symptoms of a classic thyroid person – so they ignored me… And that was really my first introduction to integrative medicine…
…no one under my watch, as a practitioner, is ever going to suffer from a thyroid condition, because I was too lazy to check… or I was too convinced that somebody doesn’t have a thyroid problem because they don’t fit the picture.