Tuesday, August 2, 2022

What Hormones Are Tested In Blood Work

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What Is Hormonal Imbalance

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Hormones are produced by the endocrine glands, which create hormones to travel throughout the body to tell your organs what to do. These are responsible for many of the vital functions of your body, including your metabolism and reproduction. If the levels are too high or too low, this leads to significant negative effects on the body.

Various tests can be used to test your hormone levels, which can offer excellent insight as to what may be causing your problems. Then you can begin the right treatment to help you get back to feeling like yourself.

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.

What Can Cause Imbalanced Hormone Levels

Medical issues, such as ovarian cysts, PCOS, tumors or illness, can cause hormonal imbalance. Hormones are also significantly affected by lifestyle factors such as stress, lack of sleep or poor diet. Self-care is essential to the production and function of hormones and the organs and systems they manage.

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When To Test Progesterone

Progesterone levels are highest 5-7 days following ovulation, which is within our luteal phase . This is why testing is recommended days 19-22 of a 28 day cycle.

Even though were commonly told that women ovulate like clockwork on day 14 of their cycle, unfortunately, this isnt always the case. Its a great idea to track your basal body temperature and evaluate your cervical mucus to get an idea of when and if you are ovulating. Or you can use over-the-counter LH strips which can help you dial in the day you ovulate.

Ive got a whole article devoted to this practice, but the general idea is pretty simple, but can take some time. When you ovulate, your body temperature rises and your vaginal discharge becomes the consistency of stretchy egg whites. If you keep an eye on these changes to your body, theres a pretty good chance you can approximate when youre ovulating.

For a lot of women, this will mean that testing for progesterone should happen on roughly day 19-22 of their cycle. Again, this recommendation could change if youre not ovulating day 14 of your cycle which is actually pretty common, or if your typical cycle is shorter or longer than 28 days. Track your cycle for a few months before and talk to your doctor so that they can tell you the best day to test progesterone.

If you feel confused, talk to the provider ordering your test.

When To Speak With A Doctor About Hormone Imbalances

Blood Tests for Hormone Imbalance

There are two basic methods to help you discover if the signs and symptoms being experienced are being caused by a hormone imbalance. For many women, menstruation can play a large role in the presence of an imbalance. Women will typically experience symptoms that begin about a week before their regular cycle and then have symptoms grow progressively worse during the week of their period. These symptoms will then typically improve a day or two afterward.

These symptoms may include mood swings, feelings of depression, headaches, fluid retention, joint paint, high levels of fatigue, and strange food cravings.

For men and women who are post-menopausal, then additional symptoms may be experienced. This may include hot flashes, heightened levels of anxiety, weight gain around the abdomen, trouble staying focused, dry hair, and heart palpitations. Some may even experience changes to their metabolism because of how their body is metabolizing sugars.

Certain symptoms may also be evidence of a specific hormone imbalance instead of a general one. Salt cravings that are accompanied by low blood pressure, for example, is a strong indication that there is an adrenal hormone imbalance that exists.

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What Happens During A Growth Hormone Test

Your provider may order a GH stimulation or a GH suppression test, depending on whether symptoms show a possible GH deficiency or a GH excess .

A GH stimulation test is used to check for a GH deficiency. During the test:

  • A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle.
  • After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial.
  • Your child will be given a medicine through an IV line that stimulates the pituitary gland to make GH.
  • More blood samples will be taken over the course of about two hours.
  • Each sample will be tested to see if GH levels have increased.

A GH suppression test is used to check for a GH excess. During the test:

  • A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle.
  • After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial.
  • You or your child will drink a solution that contains water and glucose .
  • Two more blood samples will be taken within one to two hours after drinking the solution.
  • The blood samples will be tested to see if GH levels have decreased.

Hormonal Imbalance And Men

You may think that women are the ones facing hormonal imbalances. But this is not the case. Men, as well as womens bodies, produce several hormones that are essential for wellbeing. One very well-known male hormone is testosterone. But, did you know that men, also, produce estrogen? Testosterone is mainly produced in the testicles and, a small amount is produced in the adrenal glands. It is responsible for ones manly characteristics, such as:

  • Facial and Body Hair
  • Muscle and Bone Density
  • Deeper Voice

It also stimulates the production of sperm and affects your desire for sex. It also plays a major role in the way one gains weight and, how and where the body will end up accumulating these fat cells. Finally, red blood cells production is linked to testosterone levels.

Estrogen is made from testosterone with the help of an enzyme known as aromatase. As you age, not only do your testosterone levels naturally drop, but your estrogen levels go up simultaneously. The loss of testosterone with age is referred to by some professionals as andropause male menopause.

However, testosterone levels can drop, even in young men, from several causes, such as:

  • Injuries to Scrotum or Testicles
  • Mumps
  • Testicular Cancer
  • Liver Disease

But, testosterone and estrogen arent the only hormones that can get out of balance in men. You can suffer a decrease in cortisol levels if you are under a lot of stress, or even an imbalance in the thyroid hormones.

Cortisol Imbalance

Thyroid Imbalance

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Natural Ways To Support Healthy Hormones

While you should always speak to your doctor if you have hormonal imbalance, he might not have to give you any kind of medication to restore the balance. This is particularly true if the imbalance is caused by something like diet or stress. In general, people who have the following criteria are at higher risks of developing hormonal imbalances:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Consuming an excessive amount of alcohol
  • Being exposed to pesticides and toxins
  • Experiencing high stress levels
  • Not sleeping enough

Many of these risk factors are easily controlled when you’re mindful of your diet, exercise routine, and daily habits. If you quit smoking, moderate your drinking, or avoid exposure to pesticides, you can help reduce your risk factor for hormonal imbalances and naturally keep them moderated.

Changing the way you eat can go a long way towards improving your hormonal balance. For example, when you exchange carbohydrates for healthy fats, like coconut oil and avocado, you can lower your bodys inflammation and help maintain your hormone at the right levels. Consuming enough proteins will help control the ghrelin hormone that makes you feel hungry. This gives you the feeling of fullness and then, you will stop eating at the appropriate time and maintain a healthy weight.

How And When Will The Patient Find Out The Results

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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.

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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.

How To Measure Tsh Levels

The TSH test involves a healthcare professional drawing blood from a vein in the inner arm. They then send the blood sample for laboratory testing.

Usually, people do not need to prepare for a TSH test. However, if the doctor is checking the blood for more than one issue, a person may need to fast or prepare in another way. The doctor will provide this information beforehand.

A TSH test is often the best way to monitor thyroid function. However, if a person has abnormally high or low TSH levels, the doctor may need to perform at least one other diagnostic test to identify the underlying cause. These tests look at levels of specific thyroid hormones and antibodies.

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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.

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Sexually Transmitted Infection Tests

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Many sexually transmitted infections can be diagnosed using a blood sample. These tests are often combined with urine samples or swabs of infected tissue for more accurate diagnoses.

The following STIs can be diagnosed with blood tests:

Blood tests arent always accurate right after contracting an infection. For an HIV infection, for example, you may need to wait at least a month before a blood test can detect the virus.

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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.

The Skin Health Tests

The symptoms: Acne, along with constipation and a low libido, are all signs that you might be suffering from a hormonal imbalance that topical skin products just wont touch.

The hormone: Oestradiol is a form of oestrogen produced in the ovaries.

What will it tell you? High oestradiol is linked to higher than normal levels of oestrogen, or oestrogen dominance, which upsets the normal balance of hormones and can lead to symptoms such as acne, constipation, low libido, depression, as well as an increased risk of oestrogen-driven womb and breast cancer.

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Health Conditions And Female Hormones

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a condition that stops eggs from developing normally in the ovaries. Symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Excessive hair growth
  • Irregular or missed periods
  • High levels of the male hormone testosterone

Thyroid problems, such as an overactive or underactive thyroid, can also affect the development of eggs in your ovaries and hence affect your hormone levels.

Testing your hormone levels can help you to understand whether a health problem, such as PCOS or a thyroid problem, is leading to hormonal changes in your body.

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You benefit from the expertise of endocrinologists, doctors who specialize in treating hormone disorders. Many of our endocrinologists completed additional training through fellowships and have decades of experience. All of our experts stay up to date on the latest hormone testing practices.

We order appropriate tests based on your symptoms, allowing us to quickly pinpoint the source of the problem. And we detect subtle signs of a hormone imbalance, so you receive an accurate diagnosis. Once we confirm a diagnosis, we’ll discuss your personalized care recommendations. Treatments may include:

  • Medical therapy for endocrine disorders
  • Endocrine surgery

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What Are The Different Types Of Hormone Tests

Practitioners can test hormone levels using blood, urine, or saliva samples. Each type of test has advantages and disadvantages with regard to an individuals health, the hormones to be tested, the hormone treatments already underway, and other variables. In some cases, your individual preference may also be a factor in choosing the best type of test.

What Does A Blood Test Show

Some blood tests can help your doctor determine how different organs in your body are working. Examples of organs whose malfunctions can be visible in a blood test include your thyroid, liver, or kidneys.

Your doctor can also use blood tests to search for markers of diseases and health conditions such as:

  • diabetes

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Do All Patients Need Blood Tests For Hormone Levels

Dr Aziz-Scott: Although treatment is bespoke to you, patients will follow a similar patient journey, and in the initial consultation, blood tests for hormone levels are required for all patients. In some cases, women may come to the clinic with blood tests conducted externally by their GP, or another healthcare professional.

We do see patients that have had a Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones . The DUTCH test is a urinary assessment of hormones and can provide a great deal of useful information about the different hormone systems in the body. It is very useful in assessing how estrogen is metabolised and this is a very important factor to consider once you are on BHRT as certain estrogen metabolites can be toxic and increase breast cancer risk.

Depending on a patients individual situation, we may be able to work with DUTCH test results, but serum blood hormone levels are the gold standard of testing to provide an accurate baseline. Many clinics offer finger prick tests, but we opt for serum blood tests as these are less likely to provide erroneous results and unnecessary additional costs if repeats needed. Once we begin treatment, the monitoring process is also much more efficient with serum blood tests.

Your Marion Gluck Clinic doctor will advise you of the tests required during your consultation and will explain the options for how you can have blood drawn.

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