Why Are Blood Tests So Important For Hormone Treatment
Dr Aziz-Scott: Although we can get an idea of where the problem lies by assessing history and symptoms specific to hormone health, blood tests give us more information about exactly whats going on with each patient we see.
At a glance, blood tests:
- Give an in-depth analysis of specific hormones.
- Ensure an accurate diagnosis.
- Allow your doctor to ensure the amount of hormones in your body are not higher than what is physiologically appropriate, and to know that the prescribed treatment is working effectively.
- Help your doctor understand if any changes to your medication are required.
- Are essential for monitoring your safety.
- Ensure you are getting the very best care from the Marion Gluck Clinic.
In the initial appointment, we need to understand whether a patient is perimenopausal, menopausal, or whether they could have premature menopause or some other hormonal condition. The initial blood tests allow us to evaluate which hormone levels are raised or lower than expected to aid with an accurate diagnosis.
Estrogen and progesterone
For women who are menstruating monthly, we check the blood hormone levels on day 21 of their cycle and analyse the estrogen-to-progesterone ratio, which should ideally be 10:1. Day 21 progesterone is indicative of whether a woman is ovulating. If your progesterone is low and estrogen is relatively high, then it is likely to cause symptoms of estrogen dominance, which is common in perimenopause and in women who present with PMDD or PMS.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Hormone Imbalance In Women
These can vary greatly, explains Dr. Eccles, but include the following: hot flushes, vaginal dryness, irregular bleeding, fibrocystic changes in the breasts, weight gain, fluid retention, dry skin and hair, hair loss, anxiety, irritability, mood swings, sleeplessness, headaches, breast tenderness, foggy thinking, joint pain, loss of libido and difficulty reaching orgasm.
Acne, depression, fatigue, hirsutism , increased thirst, migraines, infertility, irregular periods, loss of periods , night sweats, pain during sex, poor memory and a puffy face can also be indicative of a hormone imbalan
Hormones affect us through their daily subtle shifts, more strongly through the monthly cycle, and then through the massive hormonal swings during pregnancy, perimenopause and the menopause, says Dr Marion Gluck, womens health specialist and author of Its Not My Head, Its My Hormones . While not everyone will struggle with these changes, many women suffer physically and emotional. Heres the low-down on your hormones, and what happens when you have a hormone imbalance.
Treatment For A Hormonal Imbalance
There are many different treatment options for hormonal imbalances. The treatment you ultimately be given will depend on which hormone exactly is unbalance as well as the underlying cause of the imbalance. Sometimes, a life event might cause such a fluctuation in your hormones, such as menopause. In that case, your treatment would be short term one. However, if you have a genetic disorder that causes a lifelong hormonal imbalance, you will need to pursue a more prolonged course of medications.
Hormone therapy is a common treatment for hormonal imbalances. Women who are witnessing uncomfortable menopausal symptoms may choose estrogen therapy. Testosterone therapy is a common choice for men with low testosterone levels or adolescents facing delayed puberty. Taking thyroid hormones can help individuals with hypothyroidism. Such hormone replacement therapies may come in the form of pills, patches, or even injections. Your doctor will help you choose the appropriate dosage by checking your hormone levels test results. This is how he will determine the right amount of supplemented hormone you will need to recreate the balance.
Bioidentical hormones can be produced by pharmaceutical companies using different doses. Examples include bi-estrogen which is 50 to 80 percent estriol combined with estradiol, or tri-estrogen which is 10 percent estrone, 10 percent estradiol, and 80 percent estriol.
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Hormonal Changes In The Menstrual Cycle
For women who have periods, your female hormone levels control the menstrual cycle. Your cycle length is measured from the day your period starts, to the start of your next period. On average the menstrual cycle lasts for 28 days – but your menstrual cycle can last for anywhere between 21 to 40 days.
A blood test can help you to track the hormonal changes which occur during your menstrual cycle.
Your Weight Suddenly Changes Or You’re Always Hungry
Dr. Block told me that “most people recognize weight changes as the primary symptom of thyroid problems,” although the endocrinologist said “it is often not the first sign to appear.” That’s because the thyroid regulates our metabolism, so if that goes awry, so can our weight.
The Mayo Clinic lists “sudden weight loss, even when your appetite and the amount and type of food you eat remain the same or even increase” as a primary symptom of hyperthyroidism. And weight gain that people might attribute to other factors, such as getting older, may possibly be hypothyroidism.
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Ways To Get Your Hormones In Check Naturally
Hormones got you down? Here are some basics to getting your hormones out of wack and back on track!
Every body is individual and some hormone imbalances go much deeper but this is a good start!
1. SUPPORT YOUR LIVER & DETOX PATHWAYS, this is absolutely critical for hormone balancing. Our livers are responsible for regulating sex hormones, thyroid hormones, and adrenal hormones. It removes excess hormones from the body, if the liver is not able to do this physical and emotional symptoms will arise. Make sure you are sweating everyday and having at least one bowel movement, while also doing other liver detox methods. NO I am not talking about those fad juice cleanses or other detoxes on the market, those will only cause more harm than good.
2. BALANCE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR! When we talk about balanced hormones we are talking about safety. Our body wants to feel safe and we can do that by not making our bodies guess when it will be having its next meal. Eat at the same times everyday and always combine protein and carb together, never consume alone!
3. EAT YOUR CARBS! Now that we know how important the liver is for regulating hormones, guess what! The liver runs on glucose and what do carbs do? They turn into glucose to be used as fuel by our body! Ditch the low carb diet, its not doing you any favors.
7. LIGHT THERAPY, get your booty outside or start incorporating red light therapy if you cant get outside. Getting a proper amount of light everyday helps to build hormones.
Your Stop For Complete Hormone Testing For Women
Now you know the 12 most common Hormone Testing for Women, While there are some symptoms, such as hot flashes, that you can almost always associate with a hormonal imbalance, others make it more challenging to connect the dots.. Its important for you to get a baseline reading of each of your hormone biomarkers. Not only that, but you need to get tested regularly to track any changes that lead to a hormone imbalance.By keeping a close eye on your hormone biomarkers, as you go through life, you can detect the impact of disruptions or discomfort from changing hormone levels. Make sure that you not only get routinely tested but to also discuss the results with your doctor.If you need help understanding your hormones, wed love to help. We offer these key Hormone Testing for Women as part of our selection of 1,500 lab tests, and we provide explanations on each biomarker.You can select your lab tests, order directly online, choose a convenient patient service center near you, and review your test results typically in 1 to 2 days after your blood is collected.Take charge of your health and get tested today at UltaLabTests.com/Shop.
When And How To Test Hormone Levels For Women
A fertility hormone test involves just the removal of a blood sample to determine the levels of all the reproductive hormones described above.
It should be noted that the blood test should be done between the third and fifth day of the menstrual cycle, that is, within 3-5 days after the start of your menstruation, since your hormones are in basal levels and can be compared with the reference values.
The first day of the menstrual cycle is considered the first day when a woman has a heavy bleeding, marking the start of the menstrual period. The previous days, even if mild spotting occurs, are not considered the beginning of menstruation.
Nevertheless, the hormone progesterone should be checked on day 21 of the cycle to determine if ovulation has happened or not.
Finally, AMH testing can be done anytime during the cycle, since its value does not fluctuate through it.
How To Test Cortisol Levels
Cortisol levels are measured with lab tests. These may be blood tests, which measure levels of the hormone in the bloodstream, or saliva tests, which measure cortisol levels in a saliva sample. Cortisol testing is typically done early in the morning, when levels are normally highest. Often, to produce the most accurate results, testing is repeated in the afternoon of the same day. Cortisol testing is often done in conjunction with ACTH level tests, since this pituitary gland hormone works to regulate cortisone levels. ACTH tests measure levels of the hormone in the bloodstream.
Getting tested can be done through your health care provider, who can order your tests for you, take your blood or saliva samples or send you to a lab to have them done. Then, your provider will let you know your results once they are delivered to his or her office.
You can also order these lab tests yourself online or over the phone from independent testing services, like Health Testing Centers. Ordering your own tests is generally less expensive, since you skip the cost of an office visit, and more efficient, since the results are delivered directly to you.
However, it is important to note that if your tests show that your cortisol and/or ACTH levels are abnormal too high or too low following up on those results with a visit to your healthcare provider is essential. Abnormal levels of these important hormones require further examination and testing.
Blood Tests For Hormone Levels Q& a
Here at the Marion Gluck Clinic, we place a focus on giving you the very best experience and precise, personalised care. We are often asked questions about the blood tests that are required for treatment at the clinic. We sat down with Dr Ghazala Aziz-Scott, one of our hormone doctors, to help answer your most frequently asked questions about blood tests for hormone levels and hormone balancing therapy.
Risks Of Not Treating Hormone Imbalances
Hormone imbalances, when left untreated, are more than just annoying mood swings and bad PMS. They can be indicators that something more serious rarely, even cancerous is happening in your body.
Not getting your hormones back in balance could lead to other problems, like elevated cholesterol, osteoporosis, obesity, lack of sleep, and more.
Although truly identified hormonal imbalances often need medical or even surgical intervention, a healthy lifestyle can improve low-level symptoms.
Do your best to get:
- 6-8 hours of sleep each day
- 30+ minutes of vigorous exercise daily
- And a high-quality diet with enough protein and healthy fats and less sugar.
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Natural Remedies And Lifestyle Changes That Can Help A Hormone Imbalance
If you take the holistic route bio-identical hormones are best and work quickest, says Dr. Eccles. Bio-identical hormones are described by Harvard Medical School as hormones made from a plant chemical extracted from yams and soy identical in molecular structure to the hormones women make in their bodies.
Like HRT, bio-identical hormones come in the form of drugs, such as tablets, and creams and gels that a doctor will prescribe a combination of. This form of treatment should always be monitored by a skilled doctor to get the hormone levels right for each individual, as well as testing to monitor treatment levels, advises Dr. Eccles.
While many women have reported positive results from using natural products natural doesnt necessarily mean safe, and some over-the-counter complementary remedies such as St. Johns Wort can negatively interact with certain medicines. The NHS doesnt offer or recommend bio-identical hormone therapy so its a personal choice. If you choose to go ahead with natural alternatives to HRT find an established practitioner who will be able to provide tailor-made doses.
You Have Gastrointestinal Issues
If you have such issues, it may be assumed that something is wrong with your digestive system. But the thyroid may also cause gastrointestinal problems. Dr. Block told me that bowel changes are one of the symptoms of a malfunctioning thyroid. Specifically, the Mayo Clinic describes one of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism as “changes in bowel patterns, especially more frequent bowel movements,” while constipation can be a symptom of hypothyroidism.
Women’s health expert Carolyn Dean, MD, ND told me, “Slow metabolism leads to slow bowel movement.”
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Period Problems And Period
A common complaint of women who visit Madison Womens Health is irregular periods or unexpected changes to their periods. A period is considered irregular when it occurs more often than before or less often than before, or if the amount and duration of bleeding has changed significantly for repeated months. Is your period suddenly much heavier than it has been? Or are you not having a period at all?
Keep track of your cycles, when you begin to bleed, and for how long. A popular app among our patients for tracking cycles is Period Tracker Period Calendar , although there are many options. Let your doctor know how many days there are between your periods and what your typical flow is like. Discuss what is different and why you are concerned. Let them know if youre under more stress than before, if youve changed your diet or exercise recently, or if you have a family history of irregular periods.
These changes could have a structural cause having to do with your cervix or uterus or a hormonal cause. Your doctor will likely want to perform a physical exam and may also check specific hormones on a specific day of your menstrual cycle.
How Your Hormone Levels Change Throughout Your Cycle
Day one is the day your period starts. At this point, your female hormone levels are low. An egg begins to develop in one of your ovaries and gradually produces the hormone oestrogen.
Around days 10 â 16, your oestrogen levels are at their highest. A rise in the hormones LH and FSH cause the egg to be released from your ovary. The egg implants itself in your womb and your body begins to produce the hormone progesterone and a smaller amount of oestrogen.
What Are Female Hormones
Estrogen and progesterone are the primary sex hormones in females. Most of the body’s supply of these hormones is produced by the ovaries, although small amounts are supplied by other tissues in the body. While best known for their primary function of regulating the reproductive system, female hormones also play a role in other aspects of women’s health, including cardiac function, metabolism, bone health, skin thickness and elasticity, urinary tract health, emotional health and brain function, among others.
Cortisol and the thyroid hormone can become imbalanced for various reasons and affect both men and women. Ensuring a healthy profile means keeping abreast of your body’s levels. A comprehensive hormone test can provide much needed insight.
The three primary sex hormones in women are estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
Commonly Asked Questions About Female Hormones
What is the lifelong role of estrogen in female health?
Most people think estrogen is primarily responsible for reproduction, but it also helps with bone, skin and cardiovascular health. In addition, it affects thyroid hormone production. During menopause, estrogen levels decline along with the production of progesterone and testosterone. Hormone replacement therapy , which means replacing lost hormones by re-introducing them into the body, is often suggested to offset the positive benefits of estrogen and can be helpful in reducing common symptoms of menopause. But some studies show that artificial doses of estrogen carry risks and have been linked to cancer, dementia, strokes and arthritis. Never assume that hormone replacement therapy is the right thing to do without consulting your healthcare provider.
What is Puberty? Hormones that control puberty
Puberty is the time in life when children begin to show changes through hormone secretions that indicate they are about to become adults physically. In girls, the most obvious sign of puberty is the onset of menstruation. It can happen anywhere between the ages of 9 17, with a median age of 12. The menses, or monthly cycle, is interrupted during pregnancy and typically ends when the ovaries stop secreting steroid hormones a stage known as menopause.
What are the hormonal milestones in a females life?
What Causes Hot Flashes?
Why do I feel so different during my monthly cycle?
Why dont men have monthly cycles?
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Advice Before Doing This Test
If you’re on hormonal contraception
Your results will only show what your hormone levels are from hormonal contraception the insights might be less useful. This includes the oral contraceptive pill, implant, ring, injection, and hormone replacement therapy .
If you just stopped hormonal contraception
Wait 3 months before doing this test this allows time for your natural cycle to return. If you were using the contraceptive injection, we recommended waiting a year.
If you use an oestrogen or testosterone cream/gel
If you use a topical oestrogen-containing or testosterone-containing cream or gel, always use a glove when applying it. Contact with your fingers could affect your finger-prick oestrogen or testosterone result.
If you’re breastfeeding
Breastfeeding can affect your hormone levels which can make it difficult to accurately interpret your results. We recommend waiting until you’ve stopped breastfeeding before doing this test.
If you’re pregnant
Dont do this test if you’re pregnant as we won’t be able to interpret your results.