Common Hormone Testing For Women
Before you begin your search and compare your options, lets take a look at 12 lab tests designed to help identify hormonal imbalances in women.
This acronym stands for Dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate. This is a weak male hormone that adrenal glands produce in both men and women.
What It Measures
A DHEA-S test measures the level of this hormone in your blood. It is appropriate for women who appear to have too many male hormones.
Clinical Test Reference Range
Normal levels of DHEA-S will vary depending on each individuals sex and age. The average normal ranges for females measured in mcg/dL, as reported by Quest, are listed below.
- < 1 Month: 15-261
There is a particular group of steroids responsible for regulating your menstrual cycle and functioning as your main female sex hormones. This group includes the most predominant form of estrogen, called Estradiol, also referenced as Estradiol-17 Beta or E2.
What It Measures
An Estradiol test measures the level of Estradiol in your blood.
As its produced mainly in your ovaries, doctors can analyze this hormonal activity to see if your organs are functioning as they should.
Clinical Test Reference Range
Normal levels of Estradiol in women will vary depending on the menstrual cycle and age. The following Estradiol levels are considered normal for women, as reported by Quest.
- Follicular Phase: 19-144 pg/mL
Normal levels for postmenopausal women should be lower than 10 pg/mL.
What an Imbalance Means
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.
When Is The Best Time To Test Hormone Levels
If youre struggling with a hormone imbalance, testing your sex hormones can help you understand where the issue is rooted. Evaluating estrogen, progesterone and testosterone can be helpful in understanding which hormones are driving your symptoms.
Hormone levels arent static throughout the monthand this is why so many women get within range blood test results.
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How And When Will The Patient Find Out The Results
Results are returned to the doctor or specialist nurse who is looking after the patient. They may be contacted immediately to discuss the results or wait until they are next seen in clinic.
Results must be interpreted in the context of other medical details. With endocrinology in particular, the same numerical result may signify health in one person, but a problem in another. Patients should discuss results with their doctor rather than trying to interpret them themselves.
Routine results are produced within one working day providing additional measurements are not required, for example, if it has to be double-checked. Results on samples sent to reference laboratories for special tests may take one to four weeks to return.
Hot Flashes And Night Sweats
One of the most common symptoms of perimenopause is hot flashes, which often coexists with night sweats. Almost 80 percent of people who are in perimenopause or transitioning into menopause have hot flashes. Also, most women who receive chemotherapy or undergo surgery to remove their ovaries will experience hot flashes.
Scientists know that hot flashes occur as a result of low estrogen levels. Each hot flash involves a sensation of heat that starts in the chest area and travels to the neck and the head. It can last for a few minutes and may cause sweating. Some women also develop a faster heart rate during hot flashes.
If a hot flash happens during sleep, they are called night sweats. Women who have night sweats often wake up in the morning feeling tired.
Some people experience redness along their neck and face during a hot flash. This is called a hot flush.
On average, each hot flash lasts for about three to four minutes. Hot flashes can occur for a few months to several years. In a few rare cases, some people had hot flashes for 10 years.
Other signs of hormonal imbalance include:
- Heavy or irregular periods, missed periods, frequent periods, or stopped periods
- Vaginal dryness and itching
- Weakened muscles
- Pain in the muscles, tenderness, and stiffness
- Pain and swelling in the joints
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What Is Fertility Hormone Testing
Hormones and their interaction affect a womans fertility by ensuring proper ovulation, proper implantation of the embryo in the uterus, and the womans capability to carry a pregnancy to term. When any of these hormones are out of balance, infertility can result. Common hormonal abnormalities affecting fertility include low thyroid function, low progesterone and high male hormone levels.
Fertility hormone testing determines the various levels and presence of a variety of hormones central to reproduction. Laboratory analysis of these hormones, generally obtained via blood and urine samples, allows fertility physicians to determine potential causes of infertility and the appropriate treatment options.
Where Should I Get A Hormone Balance Test And Other Faqs About Hormone Testing
You should get your hormones tested!
How many times have you heard that comment? Were often encouraged to look closely at our hormones when we experience symptoms that hint at conditions like hypothyroidism, menopause, or low testosterone. Indeed, fatigue, depression, hair loss, weight gain, weight loss, temperature sensitivity, mood changes, sleep disturbances, and anxiety are all common symptoms of hormonal changes or imbalances. But even if you know that a hormone test might be a good idea, you may not know what it entailsor where to get one.
Hormone testing is a very simple process. Its quick, easy, highly accessible, and can reveal critical information about your health. But hormone testing can only work if you know which tests to get and what the results mean. By exploring the basics of hormone testing, you can ensure you get the information and the support you need.
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Overview Of Menstrual Cycle For Hormone Testing
- Day 1 this is the first day you see bright red blood.
- Day 14 this is when women are typically told they ovulate, but thats not true for everyone or every cycle. But we use this as a baseline when discussing lab tests and timing. You should monitor your cycle and symptoms to find out when you *actually* ovulate for sure.
- Day 28 not everyone has a 28-day cycle. However, youll often hear the menstrual cycle talked about in terms of 28 days. This is where your hormones drop if you don’t get pregnant. If youre tracking your period and you know that you have a shorter or longer cycle.
- Back to Day 1 this is when youll once again see blood.
> > Its important to note: While on hormonal birth control you should not ovulate and you dont have a period. Instead, you have a medication-induced withdrawal bleed that isnt actually a period. Some women will continue to ovulate with an IUD.
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
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Hormone Imbalance And Hormone Level Testing
Last Reviewed Date: Apr 29, 2020 Apr 29, 2020 Dec 05, 2018
Chapter 1: Hormone Imbalance Introduction Chapter 2: Causes and Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance Chapter 3: Hormonal Imbalance and Men Chapter 4: Hormonal Imbalance and Women Chapter 5: More about Cortisol
Your entire endocrine system is composed of glands and hormones. It is one of two systems that help coordinate all the functions of your body.
This managerial role, of maintaining hormone levels over time and in various situations, is important for both your survival and well being. Hormone testing has shown that hormone levels decrease with age and that hormone replacement therapies may be helpful in maintaining youthful vigor.
The other critical system that regulates the functions of your body is the nervous system. Both the endocrine and nervous system work closely together to control a number of important functions:
- Your bodys growth and development
- Your metabolism
- Your mood and sleeping patterns
How Is A Saliva Hormone Test Performed
Saliva tests for hormone levels are non-invasive and stress-free. A patient simply spits into a sterile test tube which is sent to a lab for analysis. Saliva sampling must be done correctly, but today’s collection devices make it easy, and patients can collect samples during the day or night as needed to establish an accurate baseline and measure changes in hormones throughout the day or throughout the month.
How Is It Used
Estrogen tests are used to detect a deficiency or excess in a woman and to help diagnose a variety of conditions associated with this imbalance. They may also be used to help determine the timing of a woman’s ovulation and may be ordered to monitor the health status of the developing baby and placenta during pregnancy. In a man, estrogen testing may be performed to detect a hormone excess and its cause.
Estrogen tests measure one of three components: estrone , estradiol , or estriol . These tests each have different uses.
In Girls and Women
Estradiol and/or estrone testing may be ordered to:
In Boys and Men
- Help diagnose delayed puberty
In Boys and Men
How Can I Balance Back My Hormones
If you have been diagnosed with a hormonal imbalance, your doctor can advise you on ways of bringing your body back into proper balance. Typical treatments for improved hormonal balance include hormone replacement therapy and lifestyle changes, such as dietary changes, stress management and exercise. In the case of thyroid dysfunction, medications and/or surgical intervention may be necessary to restore health levels of thyroid hormones.
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How Early Can A Blood Test Detect That You’re Pregnant
Hormonal blood tests performed by a medical facility can detect pregnancy earlier than home pregnancy tests using urine. Blood tests can detect pregnancy between six and eight days after you ovulate. By contrast, home pregnancy tests should be taken after your period is late, which is between 12 and 16 days after ovulation. Waiting until this point can help you avoid false negatives or positives.
Fertility Hormone Testing Overview
- Fertility hormone testing usually involves analyzing a womans blood or urine samples to determine if hormonal issues may be preventing her from becoming pregnant.
- Hormonal imbalances are a leading cause of infertility in women.
- Hormone levels can also affect male fertility and hormone testing may be appropriate for men as well.
- Primary fertility hormone testing involves analysis of follicle-stimulating hormone , luteinizing hormone levels and progesterone.
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 Of Womens Hormonal Imbalance
In most cases, female hormones balance can be improved or corrected with treatment. Often, changes in diet and lifestyle are sufficient to improve female hormonal imbalance and offer some protection against its potential health complications. Among the common changes recommended are:
- Weight control
- 30 minutes of exercise daily, including resistance and aerobic exercise.
- Dietary changes that include replacing processed, fatty and sugary foods with lean proteins, low-fat dairy and a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Eliminate tobacco consumption
Female hormonal imbalance that cannot be resolved with lifestyle changes is most commonly treated with hormone replacement therapy. Conventional HRT uses hormone drugs to normalize levels of estrogens or progesterone in the system, while bioidentical hormone replacement therapy enhances hormone levels as needed with plant-derived supplements. HRT has been associated with health risks with long-term use, so women considering this treatment should discuss risks and benefits carefully with their doctors.
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Are There Any Other Factors That Might Affect The Outcome Of The Test
The blood level of several hormones changes significantly with the time of day. For example, cortisol and testosterone are highest in the early morning. The response of glands to hormones given to patients during dynamic tests may also show this diurnal variation for example, the response of the adrenal gland to synacthen is higher in the morning.
The day of the menstrual cycle also has a major impact on hormone levels. In general, blood samples are best taken in the first half of the cycle when normal and abnormal hormone levels are more clearly separated. However, progesterone may be deliberately measured on day 21 in the middle of the second half to see if ovulation has occurred.
It is human nature to ignore doctors advice. Not taking medication as prescribed, or taking extra the week before the test in an effort to make up for doses missed previously, will give misleading results and the patient may miss out on a full return to health.
A Hormone Imbalance Can Cause Chronic Health Issues
When your hormones are in proper balance they help the body thrive, but small problems with hormones can cause serious and life-altering symptoms. Specifically, imbalances of sex hormones, thyroid hormones and adrenal hormones are common problems that can contribute to a host of chronic health issues. Unfortunately, conventional medicine often doesnt understand the significant role hormone imbalances play in many health complaints.
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There Is A Similar Test Advertised On The Internet Can This Test Be Taken At Home
Samples of urine, saliva, faeces and finger-prick blood, which can be collected at home, are currently used by the NHS for specific tests, especially in relation to children.
It is recommended that all tests are overseen by the patients GP and/or endocrinologist. This is because it is important that a doctor has carried out a full examination of the patient and talked to them face-to-face to ensure that they can properly interpret the results of any tests. The advantage of a professionally collected sample , eg, blood from a vein, is that enough is taken to allow double-checking of extreme results, repeating the analysis after dilution, investigating possible human or biological interference, allowing additional tests to be carried out if required without the delay and discomfort of taking another sample.
Some internet laboratories are acceptable, but the small volume of self-taken samples creates limitations. With hormones, it is often best to measure more than one at once in order to get the full-picture.
It can be difficult for internet laboratories without full knowledge of individual medical details, for example, the drugs being taken, to appreciate the significance of the results, or fully interpret them.
It is important to take care when comparing results from different laboratories because significant variation can arise from differences in the measurement technology.
The Hormone Test All Women Can Do At Home
While lab work like the Female Hormone Panel is super valuable information – especially once you have a personal database of tests that track your bodys progress – there are ways you can check in on your hormones, at home, without the assistance of your OBGYN. If youre experiencing symptoms – like PMS, acne, low sex drive, mood swings – the next time you get your period, look at what color it is! Like really look.
Look at the color of the bleed, the consistency, note how long your period is, how it starts and how it ends…numbers on a page can be hard to connect back to how you feel, but your period is right there in front of you. Its a part of you and its a visual indicator of whats going on with your hormones. You can tell what kind of hormone imbalance you are dealing with by observing:
- The color of your period blood
- The way it starts and the way it ends
- The consistency of the period blood
- The length of time you have your period
- How much you bleed
This easily observable, immediately accessible information is right there for your understanding. Notice it, note it, actually write it down if you like in a period diary and it can give you so much important information.
But, how to know what it all means?
Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this – the science of your body is on your side!
to your FLO,
Good things come in threes:
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