When Is The Best Time To Test Your Hormones
Dr. Jolene Brighten is a prominent leader in womens medicine and award winning naturopathic physician. She is an international speaker, clinical educator, medical advisor within the tech community, and considered a leading authority on womens health. Dr. Brighten is also part of the MindBodyGreen Collective and a faculty member for the American Academy of Anti Aging Medicine. Her work has been featured in the New York Post, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, Bustle, The Guardian, and ABC News.
Part of this post originally appeared on the Dr. Jolene Brighten blog on August 1, 2020, and has been reposted with permission.
I get a ton of questions from women who are confused about their hormones. When youre trying to figure out why you feel so crappy every month, it can be frustrating trying to get access to the appropriate tests. It can be even more frustrating to suffer terrible symptoms and yet have no diagnosis because your bloodwork comes back normal. Part of the problem is you simply dont know when is the best time to test hormone levels. In this article, Im outlining some of the more common testing recommendations I make for women in my medical practice.
Is It Time To Get Your Hormone Levels Checked
Bottom Line: You can get to the root cause of fatigue, memory loss and more
James B. LaValle, RPh, CCN, a clinical pharmacist and board-certified clinical nutritionist based in Foothill Ranch, California. He is author of four books, including Your Blood Never Lies: How to Read a Blood Test for a Longer, Healthier Life and Cracking the Metabolic Code: 9 Keys to Optimal Health. JimLaValle.com
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Weve all had routine blood teststo check our cholesterol levels, blood glucose, thyroid hormone and other important health indicators. But theres a lot that you could be missing.
To get a fuller picture: Talk to your doctor about blood tests that check levels of hormones that are often overlooked. As chemical messengers that affect virtually every function in your body, these hormones play a crucial role in everything from your immune system and brain health to your sex drive, mood and energy levels.
The problem is, such hormone levels are usually tested only when a problem is suspected. But many integrative-health experts now recommend annual testing of specific hormone levels for adults over age 30, especially to learn more about*
Cortisol is the King Kong of hormoneslevels of all other hormones can be affected, in one way or another, by ones cortisol levels.
How Does Menopause Affect Hormone Levels
Menopause is not just about one moment when women do not have a period anymore. During this natural occurrence, there are three main stages. The first one is called perimenopause which lasts approximately 3-5 years. The symptoms of it, are irregular menstruation bleeding, hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and psycho-emotional disorders such as irritability, aggression, and even panic. Here the hormone levels start fluctuating.
The second stage is called menopause. It means there are no more periods, and a lady cannot give birth to children. Also, this stage is diagnosed only with a doctor after she was 12 months straight without menstrual bleeding. Here thelevels are decreased. And, the symptoms are the same, however, a woman can also experience memory problems, and decreased libido.
Finally, the last stage is the postmenopause. And, it lasts for the rest of your life. Nevertheless, all the stages are critical for ladies. Because hormonelevels during menopause are not stable, and they do not provoke symptoms only but may affect the development of a disease. For instance, nodes and polyps can occur in the uterus, benign fibroids in malignancies, and also, hormone levels in menopause may bring some discomfort in your intimate zone, such as vaginism.
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Which Test Should I Choose
i-screen offers a number of hormone tests, and it can be confusing to decide which test is right for you.
- If you believe you have a sex hormone imbalance, then i-screens Female Hormone Check can verify this
- If you think your thyroid may be to blame, then a Thyroid Check or Advanced Thyroid Check is a good place to start
- Or if cortisol could be the problem, then i-screens Adrenal Fatigue Check can provide further insight
If your blood tests or saliva tests do reveal that you have a hormone imbalance, then our team of qualified doctors can recommend how you can take steps to improve your health and wellbeing.
If you need further guidance on which test is right for you, then contact us and one of our medical professionals will be in touch to work through your symptoms.
What Is An Estrogen Test
Your doctor may also call these estradiol, estrone , estradiol , estriol , or estrogenic hormone tests.
If your doctor needs to check to see if you might have a condition caused by too much or too little of a certain estrogen type, they may recommend that you take an estrogen test. Itâs a simple blood test, and it can measure up to three types of this estrogen:
- Estrone, or E1, the main hormone women make after menopause
- Estradiol, or E2, the main hormone women make when they arenât pregnant
- Estriol, or E3, a hormone women make more of when theyâre pregnant
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Signs Of Hormone Imbalance In Women
So often we attribute our body’s changes incorrectly. As women progress through life, the body responds differently, and it plays out in a number of ways.
1- Estrogen Imbalance
Estrogen is made by your ovaries, your adrenal glands, and to a much lesser extent, by your fat cells. It has many functions, including:
- Maintaining Bone Calcium
- Regulating HDL and LDL Cholesterol in Blood
- Helping Maintain Blood Sugar Levels
- Helping with Memory
- Balancing Emotions
Estrogen imbalance can cause numerous symptoms which will depend on whether you are experiencing an overabundance of the hormone or less of it. The causes and signs can be discerned, but they take a watchful eye. Too little estrogen is often caused by:
- Failed Pregnancy
3- Testosterone Imbalance
Testosterone is not just a male sex hormone. Women also have lesser amounts of this hormone. It is produced by your ovaries and adrenal glands. Testosterone has the important function of aiding you by protecting you against developing osteoporosis. It has many other effects on your health, including sex drive, mood, energy levels and body fat percentage.
If you have too much testosterone in your body, such as when you have a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome, you could experience:
- Irregular Periods
- Increased Body or Facial Hair
Too little testosterone often occurs during menopause and can lower your sex drive, cause depression, weakness of your muscles and fatigue.
How To Check Hormone Levels Easily
The Everlywell at-home Women’s Health test is the most comprehensive panel for a complete look at all the hormones that are critical to a women’s well-being. This hormone imbalance test checks your female hormone levels so you can discover if your levels are too high or low compared to reference ranges.
Our Womenâs Health test is taken in your own home, and results are provided by an experienced, CLIA-certified laboratory. At a low price for all of these tests, this is the perfect starting point for those wanting to take a first step in assessing their own hormone levels before turning to more expensive, difficult, or complex alternatives.
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Why Cortisol Testing Is Important
Cortisol testing is important because that system does not always function in the normal, healthy manner outlined above. Sometimes cortisone levels can stay too high for too long, which can have far-reaching effects on your health, such as:
- Problems with memory and/or concentration
Issues That Can Cause Abnormally High Cortisol Levels include:
1- Chronic stress: The bodys natural fight-or-flight stress response system is set up to manage short-term stress situations. Stress in todays world is often a longer-term health issue. Rather than being stressed by a sudden encounter with a predator, a situation that can be resolved quickly by running away, we are more likely to face ongoing problems that cause stress, like job pressures, for instance, or financial ones. This can cause long-term activation of the stress response system, leading to chronically high levels of cortisol.
2- Problems with the pituitary gland: Tumors on the pituitary gland or excess growth of the gland can cause it to release too much ACTH, increasing cortisol levels.
3- Problems with adrenal glands: Tumors on the adrenal glands can cause overproduction of cortisol.
4- Other tumors: Growths in other areas of the body can increase cortisol production.
5- Medications: Overuse of corticosteroid medications or long-term use of them can lead to abnormally high cortisol levels.
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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What Causes A Hormone Imbalance
There are a variety of factors that can cause a hormone imbalance, including illnesses such as thyroid or other endocrine gland conditions, diabetes, eating disorders, cancer treatment, hormone therapy, environmental toxins, a nutritionally poor diet that is rich in refined foods, and certain medications.
For women, a hormone imbalance often occurs in relation to the female reproductive system polycystic ovary syndrome , birth control pills, pregnancy, breastfeeding, hysterectomy and menopause can all cause issues.
There may be a genetic tendency, says Dr. Eccles, but most commonly an imbalance is related to lifestyle and less healthy lifestyles that are more often associated with hormone dysregulation .
Last updated on by Alisa Vitti
So, youve been feeling less than great lately maybe the first sign was irregular or heavy and painful periods, or maybe it was some weight gain and acne either way, you know something is wrong and you want to feel better. Youre thinking it might be hormone-related. What now?
Many women take a trip to their OBGYN and ask for a hormone test. This is a great first step towards treating your health issues. But the results can be confusing and concerning without a little background information and preparation. Knowledge is power! Theres no need to be mystified.
Remember: no result received is static, the diagnosis you get can and will change with the right kind of treatment.
Get Hormones Tested Near You
You no longer have to ask yourself, Where can I get hormone testing near me? Shop Personalabs hormonal imbalance tests online at your convenience and get your lab order right away. Choose one of our partner labs thats closest to you and get your testing done. Shouldnt all your healthcare choices be that easy? Browse our lab test selections today.
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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.
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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The Role Of Hormone Testing
Metabolism. Mood regulation. Growth and development. Organ function. These are just a few of the many things hormones do in the human body. Hormones are produced by the endocrine system, which includes the thyroid, pituitary, and adrenal glands, the pancreas, the reproductive organs, and the hypothalamus region of the brain.
If any part of the endocrine system cant produce sufficient hormone levels, your health and well-being can suffer. Hormone tests measure hormone levels to pinpoint potential issues. A test for hormone imbalance can also be used to develop a treatment plan that restores hormones to their proper levels.
Stimulation And Suppression Hormone Testing
We use tests called stimulation and suppression tests to evaluate a hormone imbalance. We give you hormones and other substances that either start or stop your production of certain hormones. We then evaluate how your body responds.
Common types of stimulation and suppression testing include:
- Growth hormone response to glucagon: We inject a hormone, glucagon, into muscle tissue and measure growth hormone levels over four hours. This test helps us confirm or rule out adult growth hormone deficiency.
- Cortisol response to cosyntropin: We give you cosyntropin, which acts like ACTH . ACTH is a hormone produced in the pituitary gland that stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. We measure cortisol levels every 30 minutes for one hour. This test helps us confirm adrenal insufficiency.
- Glucose tolerance test: We give you a sweet drink, which should lower levels of growth hormone. We measure levels of growth hormone in the blood every two hours. This test helps us confirm acromegaly.
- Cortisol response to dexamethasone: You take a pill at night that should block cortisol production. The next day we take a blood sample to measure cortisol levels. This test helps us confirm or rule out Cushing’s syndrome.
- Metyrapone suppression test: You take a pill at night that should block cortisol production. The next day we take a blood sample to measure cortisol and ACTH levels. This test helps us confirm or rule out adrenal insufficiency.
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When Thyroid Levels May Be Tested
You may need a thyroid hormone test if you have symptoms of either an underactive thyroid or an overactive thyroid .
Hypothyroidism symptoms include:
If results start out with low TSH and high thyroid hormones and then reverse with further testing, it indicates thyroiditis, which is inflammation of the thyroid gland.
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
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
- Testicular Cancer
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.
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When Do I Need Hormonal Blood Work
Since blood tests for hormones are not a part of routine blood tests that might be done at an annual check-up, women are recommended to report any persistent, severe, or alarming symptoms to their doctors to be properly evaluated with a blood test and other diagnostic hormone tests, if necessary.
During pregnancy, on the other hand, hormonal blood work will be ordered at specific points throughout gestation or when additional needs as part of adequate prenatal care.