Which Hormone Tests Should I Ask For
Which tests you undergo will depend on your symptoms and preferences. If youre experiencing hot flashes, irregular periods, and other telltale signs of menopause, it would make sense to have your estrogen and progesterone levels checked. If youre feeling fatigued, depressed, or having trouble with your weight, comprehensive thyroid testing would likely be a good option. If youre a man, you may also want to check your testosterone levels, as low testosterone can produce similar symptoms.
On the other hand, you might simply be interested in a general hormone health check without any specific concerns. This can be useful to establish a baseline that helps you identify hormonal changes in the future or detect asymptomatic health conditions.
Regardless of whether you have specific concerns or just want an overview of your current hormonal health, your health care practitioner can help you determine which tests are most appropriate for your situation.
More Information About Hormone Testing
Hormone levels change as you agesome change throughout the day. We use hormone testing to detect and evaluate hormone imbalances that may be making you sick. We often conduct hormone testing using a blood sample, but some tests require urine or saliva samples.
We frequently test levels of:
- Estrogen and testosterone
- Adrenal gland hormones, such as cortisol
- Growth hormone, prolactin and other pituitary gland hormones
- Thyroid hormones, such as thyroxine
How Do Testosterone And Estrogen Differ
Testosterone, the key hormone in men, is the chief regulator of muscle tone and lean body mass, or the very essence of what gives a man his masculine appearance. A normal level of testosterone is a broad term, making deficiencies difficult to detect. The hormone is produced by the adrenal glands and testicles, with levels highest in the mornings and decreasing throughout the day.
Testosterone also regulates a mans sex drive. Lack of sexual desire and performance, often associated with low levels of testosterone, or low T, is a common complaint from men as they age and hormone levels drop. Sex drive and performance, however, require the presence of both estrogen and testosterone.
Estrogen, by contrast, is the hormone responsible for sexual and reproductive development in women and is also referred to as the female sex hormone. Estrogen is really a group of hormones that includes estrone, estradiol and estriol. Estrogen is produced in the ovaries but also by fat cells and the adrenal gland.
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Hormonal Imbalance And Fatigue
Fatigue is a common symptom that may have many potential underlying causes. Just as too little progesterone can make it hard to sleep, too much progesterone can make you more tired. Another common hormonal imbalance that causes fatigue is low thyroid hormone levels . This condition is easily diagnosed with a blood test. If your levels are low, you can take prescription medication to bring your levels back up to normal. Regardless of any hormone imbalance that may exist, practice good sleep hygiene to optimize your sleep. This involves going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and exercise from the late afternoon on to avoid interfering with sleep. Establish a relaxing nighttime routine to give your body the message that it’s time for sleep. Take a warm bath, sip a cup of chamomile tea, or listen to relaxing music.
Changes In Weight Distribution
As estrogen levels decrease in women who are postmenopausal, they may notice they gain more weight around the abdomen and arms. This central obesity, as it is known, is dangerous because it increases a woman’s risk of cardiovascular disease. In one study, postmenopausal women who received hormone replacement therapy did not experience weight gain in the trunk and arm areas compared to women who did not take HRT. Women treated with hormones gained an insignificant amount of weight during the study in their legs. This pattern of fat distribution is not associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The treated women had better bone mineral density compared to those who did not receive hormone therapy, too. Talk to your doctor if you notice you’re gaining more weight around your middle. Hormone therapy, if it’s appropriate and safe for you, may help.
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What Are Endocrine Disorders
Endocrine disorders are a category of diseases that relate to the endocrine system. They can be caused when a gland produces an improper amount of an endocrine hormone, or by the development of lesions or tumors in the endocrine system. Infection or injury of an endocrine gland can also contribute to the development of endocrine disorders.
Some endocrine disorders are genetic, meaning patients are more likely to develop the disorder if a close family member has it.
What Tests Measure Hormonal Imbalance
There are a number of hormone tests that can diagnose an imbalance. The doctor will most commonly order appropriate tests based on reported symptoms, physical exam, a woman’s age, and medical history.
Hormone tests will also be used to monitor a woman’s health and treatment efficacy for menopause symptoms.
Common Hormone Tests
Most common tests to measure hormonal imbalance include the following:
- Saliva test is often a part of at-home test kits it can indicate an imbalance, but not exact hormone levels.
- Urine test generally consists of collecting urine for 24 hours to measure hormone levels in that time window.
- Blood test will offer exact hormone levels it is the most common type of hormone test.
Additional Hormone Tests
Based on abnormal blood hormone tests, a doctor might also order imaging to determine structural abnormalities in the endocrine glands – like the pituitary gland, ovaries, or thyroid – or a biopsy to analyze a tissue sample from the problematic gland.
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Natural Levels Of Male Hormones Throughout Life
The main sex hormones found in both sexes are testosterone and estradiol. While women have more estradiol than testosterone, the opposite is true for men testosterone is the dominant hormone in males.
Considering testosterone and estradiol are essential for reproduction, it shouldnt come as a surprise that the peak age range for testosterone in males is ages 20-50. After 50, you see a steady decline in testosterone levels.
So for males, there are 3 main life stages for testosterone: puberty , fertile and active years , and andropause .
What Is A Hormonal Imbalance In Men
Hormonal imbalances occur when there is too much or too little of a hormone present in the body. Hormones, which are chemicals produced by glands in the endocrine system, play an essential role in the body. These chemicals travel through the bloodstream to deliver messages to tissues and organs. They regulate major body processes like metabolism and reproduction.
A hormonal imbalance can affect a number of bodily functions, including:
- Body temperature
Hormone levels may fluctuate over time, but symptoms of a hormone imbalance can also occur due to stress, injury, illness, poor nutrition, or a lack of exercise. This can occur at any time, but its more likely to occur as a person grows older.
Both men and women can experience imbalances in hormones such as growth hormones, insulin, and adrenaline. Men are more likely to experience hormonal imbalances in testosterone levels.
A drop in testosterone is also known as hypogonadism, or male menopause.Low testosterone can result in decreased strength, energy, stamina, and sexual function. Studies have found that low testosterone in men may increase their risk of developing coronary artery disease, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.
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Causes Of Hormonal Imbalance
Everyone experiences a natural fluctuation or imbalance in hormones over time. However, it can also be a result of the endocrine glands malfunctioning. The endocrine system is responsible for producing, storing, and releasing hormones into the bloodstream.
Other causes of hormonal imbalance can include:
- Cushings syndrome
- Addisons disease
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
When Should You Get A Hormone Blood Test
If you have symptoms of a possible hormonal imbalance, you might need to get a hormone blood test. According to the Society for Endocrinology, it’s usually best to have your blood drawn for a hormone test in the first half of your menstrual cycle, because levels are more distinct at that time. However, if you’re having a progesterone test to see if you’re ovulating properly, it will likely be measured on day 21 of your cycle, which is in the middle of the second half.
When Should I Test
When it comes to checking your reproductive hormones, timing matters. In women under 40, its best to test hormone levels on around day 21 of their cycle, if they typically have 28-day cycles. If a woman has longer cyclesfor instance, 40-day cycles then its best to test hormones about 7-10 days prior to their period due date. This is because its best to assess a womans progesterone level during her mid-luteal phase. If youre not menstruating regularly, testing can be done at any time.
Testing may vary, so make sure you follow instructions on the kit and/or consult your doctor.
What Are The Different Stages Of The Menstrual Cycle
The female menstrual cycle is divided into 4 main phases menstruation, follicular, ovulation and luteal phase. The follicular phase starts on the first day of your period and ends with ovulation which usually occurs mid cycle. The luteal phase occurs during the last two weeks of your cycle and ends with the first day of your period
Biohack Your Way To Better Sleep
When life is busy, often the first thing we sacrifice is sleep. Sleep or rather inadequate sleep quickly throws our body off balance. This is why its one of the first things our doctors ask about when patients come in for their initial visit. In a small study testing the impact of prolonged sleep restriction, participants that slept only 4 hours versus 10 or 12 hours experienced an increase in ghrelin, a hormone responsible for appetite regulation, alongside a decrease in leptin, a hormone responsible for communicating satiation. For many of us, 10 or 12 hours might be hard to achieve. Thats why here at Parsley we recommend getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night. The benefits of adequate sleep will not only increase your glucose metabolism and leptin concentrations but increase your bodys secretion of growth hormones responsible for cell reproduction and regeneration, which all take place during periods of rest.
How Do I Know If I Have A Hormone Imbalance
The following list of common complaints can often be helped or eliminated by improving hormone health. The challenge is often finding out the starting place of your hormone imbalance to ensure you are treating the root of the problem rather than just the symptoms. And thats where hormone testing comes in.
- Menstrual irregularities
- Poor immune function
When assessing a hormone imbalance, its important to evaluate the endocrine system as a whole. This is because the endocrine system is complex and hormones and their actions are intricately linked this means that hormone imbalances originating from different areas can cause the same symptom.
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What Should I Do If I Have A Hormonal Imbalance
The testing is complete, the results are in, and it appears as though you may be experiencing some kind of hormone imbalance or age-related hormone change. While this may be frightening, its important to remember that hormone imbalances are often easily resolved.
Depending on the severity and the cause of your hormone issue, you may be able to resolve the issue naturally via careful lifestyle adjustments. In other cases, you may consider replacing the hormones your body is lacking in order to restore balance. This treatment option is called hormone replacement therapy, and its a very common first line of defense against hormone problems of all kinds.
A good hormone health practitioner will help you understand your treatment options and create a comprehensive plan that makes sense for you. With their support, you can find the best path toward symptom relief and optimal health.
If you are interested in hormone testing, BodyLogicMD can help. The practitioners in the BodyLogicMD network are experts in hormone replacement therapy and dedicated to helping patients achieve hormonal balance. Using a functional approach to medicine, each patient is treated as a whole individual, receiving nutrition and lifestyle counseling in addition to any necessary medications. If you need a hormone balance test or are looking for a specialist to interpret the results, contact a local practitioner today. Or take the BodyLogicMD Hormone Balance Quiz to better understand the impact of hormones.
Signs You Have A Hormonal Imbalance And What You Can Do About It
We ladies know the trouble, stress, and frustration that hormonal imbalances can cause us. When hormones fluctuate, we can feel angry, emotional, tired, moody, and suffer the embarrassment from an outbreak of acne. However, no matter what our partners say, hormonal balance is key to our general health and not just a lame excuse for mood swings and feeling off color.
In fact, the signs of hormonal imbalances dont just affect our mood and emotions. Our hormones also directly affect our chances of becoming pregnant and can also affect ovulation and sexual desire.
In this article, you will learn about the symptoms of hormonal imbalance and the reasons why your bodys natural chemistry is constantly changing. First of all, lets look at why its important to have your hormones in balance.
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Effects Of Aging On Sex
As explained earlier, we experience many changes as we age and these changes can be both psychological and physical. Unfortunately, our sexual vigor is among the things that inevitably changes as we get older. During our young age, we have a lot of energy for this activity, thus, enjoying its benefits and gaining experiences from it. But as we age, we tend to lose interest or have less energy for sex.
Hormonal changes are considered normal signs of aging. These changes, however, can significantly affect the levels of our sexual drive. As for men, testosterone production decreases due to aging and health conditions. The same goes for aging women since studies show that most females who are on the prime of their age no longer have the strong sexual vigor they once have when they are still young.
On the other hand, physical changes are not the only factor that can affect the sexuality of aging adults. The changes in our surroundings and environment can also alter the impact of sex on aging individuals. The values and concepts of sex invariably change during the various stages of our lives. If you are already in your fifties or sixties, you will see that the sexual beliefs and values of your time are very different as compared to the experiences and principles of the younger generation. Hence, physical changes and social influences can essentially affect the sexual drive of every aging individual.
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Diagnosis Of Womens Hormonal Imbalance
Since the symptoms of female hormone imbalance are also common signs of a number of other diseases and health conditions, women experiencing them should see a physician for a thorough physical examination. If other underlying medical conditions are ruled out, hormone level testing is the next step. Hormone levels can be measured through saliva testing and/or blood tests. Establishing an accurate diagnosis of hormone imbalance may require several tests, done at intervals, as hormone levels fluctuate throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle and may change greatly from one day to another.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Low Estrogen In Men
In men, male menopause may result from too little estrogen in addition to lower testosterone levels, at least according to some recent studies. Diminished libido, strength and energy are the main symptoms. However, testosterone levels tend not to fall as sharply in aging men as estrogen does in women who are post-menopausal. Further research is needed to determine if changes that come with aging are due to hormonal declines and if so, which hormones are the culprit.
How Do You Treat A Hormone Imbalance
If your hormone imbalance is caused by over-exercising, poor diet or stressful lifestyle then changes to these areas will help.
Ensuring you are eating the right food in the right quantities, especially if you are exercising heavily , is absolutely key to avoiding whats known as RED-S. This is when your body is burning more calories than you are consuming and can lead to womens periods stopping completely.
Learning to manage stress will reduce the amount of the stress hormone cortisol within your body.
If your hormone imbalance is caused by a medical condition such as polycystic ovary syndrome then it is best to speak with your GP and discuss treatment.
Low Sex Drive Could Be Low Testosterone
Testosterone is typically thought of as a male hormone, but both men and women have it. Low testosterone levels may cause low libido. In one study of more than 800 postmenopausal women reporting low sex drive, those who received 150 or 300 micrograms per day of testosterone in the form of a topical patch reported more sexual desire and less distress than women who received a placebo. Women receiving extra testosterone also reported more satisfying sexual experiences compared to women who took a placebo. However, women who took 300 micrograms of testosterone per day had more unwanted hair growth than women who took the placebo. Men can get low testosterone, too. The condition has been referred to as andropause in males.
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