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.
How To Get Your Hormones Tested And What To Do Next
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.
What Are The Different Types Of Hormones
Endocrine glands are located throughout the body. These glands include the:
- Hypothalamus: controls thirst, hunger, sleep, sex drive, moods, body temperature, and the release of other hormones
- Parathyroid: controls calcium
- Thymus: controls the adaptive immune system
- Pancreas: controls blood sugar levels
- Thyroid: controls heart rate and calorie burn
- Adrenal: controls stress and sex drive
- Pituitary: controls growth
- Ovaries, in women: controls female sex hormones
- Testes, in men: controls male sex hormones
There are several different types of hormones in the body. When you have a hormonal imbalance, you may have a problem in one of more of these glands. The specific hormone thats imbalanced will determine the signs and symptoms that you experience as a result. Some of the major hormones found in the body include:
- Estrogen: controls sex drive in both men and women, and regulates the menstrual cycle in women
- Progesterone: influences the bodys changes through pregnancy
- Testosterone: controls sex drive in both men and women
- Cortisol: controls stress
- Melatonin: controls the bodys circadian rhythm and sleep cycles
- Serotonin: controls sleep cycles, appetite, and mood
- Growth hormone: controls the reproduction of cells and their subsequent growth
- Leptin: controls appetite, signaling when youre full
- Ghrelin: controls appetite, signaling when youre hungry
- Insulin: responds to sugar in the bloodstream
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Types Of Hormone Blood Tests
Some hormone tests help diagnose diseases. Diabetes, for instance, is caused by the bodys inability to process or produce the insulin hormone to control blood sugar. We also offer sex-specific tests.
Our hormone tests for women can provide insight into health concerns such as fertility, osteoporosis, and menopause. Hormone tests for men can be used to measure testosterone levels for fertility, building muscle mass, sex drive, and more. You can also use hormonal imbalance tests to check the functioning of particular glands, such as the thyroid or pituitary.
Who Should Get Tested for Hormone Imbalance?You may want to get tested if you have a family history of hormone-related disorders or diseases. Hormone testing may also be beneficial if you have symptoms associated with imbalances, including:
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- Pains or aches in the muscles or joints
- Changes in mood, such as anxiety or depression
- Cold or heat sensitivity
Your physician may also recommend a hormone blood test to help diagnoses a specific health condition.
Who May Need A Female Hormone Panel
Middle-aged women, and those experiencing difficulties with becoming pregnant, will most benefit from having their hormone levels checked in order to either begin hormone replacement therapy, or make lifestyle changes which could improve certain aspects of their hormone levels. Also, patients who have experienced symptoms related to menopause, as well as those looking to discover the source of a chronic condition possibly linked to abnormal hormone levels or general health, will also be provided enough information to work with their physician in determining a method of treatment.
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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.
How Do You Get Your Hormone Levels Checked
If you suspect a hormone imbalance, the first step is to get your hormones checked. In conventional medicine, they will typically only run basic labs that look at a wide reference range. This can leave many people with normal results with no real answer to their persistent symptoms. Instead, youre told that youre either depressed, just getting older, or need to lose weight.
Functional medicine on the other hand runs more comprehensive labs and takes into account a narrower reference range. See, the reference range in conventional medicine is based on a statistical average of the population of that particular lab that you went to. Who gets lab work done? Sick people.
Thats why if your labs come back within the normal reference range, it doesnt mean its optimal. A functional medicine doctor is able to see sooner whether you are trending toward dysfunction because they look at a narrower reference range.
Depending on your particular symptoms, your doctor can determine what labs are necessary for you to run. These are the top hormone labs I run in my telehealth functional medicine clinic to get a well-rounded look at a patients health case.
Every cell of your body needs thyroid hormones to function optimally. Thyroid conversion issues, autoimmune thyroid conditions, and thyroid resistance are all issues that dont show up in standard labs.
2. Estrogen + Progesterone
Functional medicine labs: Serum leptin
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A Salivary Profile For Assessing Key Hormones
The One Day Hormone Check is a convenient salivary hormone test that evaluates unbound, bioavailable hormone levels. Specimens collected over 24 hours are examined for levels of estradiol, estrone, estriol, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, DHEA, and melatonin. Hormone testing can help clinicians customize and monitor therapies.
Which patients might benefit from salivary hormone testing?
The One Day Hormone Check provides information about the impact that shifting hormone levels can have in men and women . Menstruating females can also run this profile, although the Rhythm Plus is Genovas comprehensive salivary profile that tracks the menstrual cycle over a full month.
- Changes in hair and skin
- Hot flashes and night sweats
Genova does not offer hormone testing for pediatric populations .
About the One Day Hormone Check
The One Day Hormone Check results are organized into three main areas:
- Estrone , Estradiol , Estriol
Hormonal Imbalance And Women
Female hormones are powerful chemical messengers that regulate the reproductive system and influence many other vital systems. When they are present in the body in the proper amounts and ratios, they work in concert with one another to promote optimal health and well-being. However, when female hormonal imbalance becomes an issue, the consequences can manifest themselves throughout the body, taking a toll on a womans health and quality-of-life. When the condition is accurately identified and treated, the balance of female hormones can be corrected, reducing the symptoms and health risks associated with hormonal imbalance.
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What The Results Mean
If progesterone levels are low during pregnancy, it could be a sign that you’re at risk of miscarriage or premature labor. You may be given a synthetic form of progesterone to prevent early labor.
High progesterone levels usually do not signal any health problems unless they continue for a long time. In those instances, high levels may indicate an increased risk of breast cancer.
How Reliable Is A Salivary Hormone Testing Kit
Saliva testing can give you accurate information about your hormone levels. A large amount of research done in the past decades has shown that hormone levels in saliva correlate with hormone levels in blood . So saliva tests offer a convenient, noninvasive way to evaluate a wide range of hormones, and saliva testing techniques can be just as accurate as blood testing methods.
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Common Symptoms Of Hormone Imbalances
Heres the thing: Hormonal imbalances can have a lot of symptoms and they can have a lot of different symptoms, depending on which ones are at the root of your issues. Those symptoms may seem muddled or initially unrelated, and theyre not always related to hormones at all.
Hormones can cause so many symptoms, but that doesnt mean theyre always the cause of your symptoms, Dr. Batur says, so its really important to be seen by a doctor for an individualized assessment. Here are some common symptoms of hormonal imbalances in women and what they might signify.
When To Test Thyroid Labs
We cant discuss testing for hormone imbalances without looking at the thyroid. Thyroid testing is best down first thing in the morning and can be at any point in your cycle. We typically add these in when we are testing for other hormones.
Its important to stop any supplements with biotin at least 72 hours in advance as it can skew results.
At a minimum, I would suggest looking at:
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What Is A Female Hormone Panel
The Female Hormone Panel is a series of tests designed to assess the hormone levels in women, which can be useful in determining whether or not a patient is beginning menopause, or in cases of infertility, what deficiencies might exist that could point to a medical cause. Many of the tests offered by Private MD not only evaluate a patient for hormone levels, but also check a patients general health in order to provide comprehensive results on other internal abnormalities that could be causing symptoms related to a condition outside of menopause.
Hormone Testing: What To Check And Why
Questions about hormone testing are common among my patients and on social media. Women want to know which hormones they need to check and why. They also want to know what hormones and other biomarkers can be tested at home. In this video and accompanying article, I cover the biomarkers that I check for myself and my patients approximately once per quarter. Note that not all biomarkers I discuss below have been validated for blood spot testing versus the gold standard of a blood draw for serum testing, which is what I use for treatment decisions. Still, one can infer trends and screen for problems to investigate further. My highest recommendation is to perform serum testing for all treatment decisions, though that may be difficult during quarantine and lockdown. I created this video to show the blood spot test that I am performing in lockdown, even with the caveat that it is not considered the gold standard for all tests mentioned in this article.
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The Doctor Keeps Talking About Reference Ranges What Does This Mean
A reference range is the range of results seen in healthy people under standard conditions eg, rested, fed or fasted, at nine in the morning or non-pregnant. There is more than one range to allow for normal variations such as age, gender, the stage of the menstrual cycle, menopause and pregnancy.
Unfortunately, the range for test results in healthy people and those with illnesses usually overlap, so there is rarely a clear dividing line. A result can be outside the reference range in a healthy person but within it for someone who is ill. There also needs to be a balance between use of the range for detecting disease and the need to minimise false diagnosis. Thus, the reference range includes most results seen in normal people, but not all of them . Because of this, the reference range is a guide and not a rigid definition of normality.
Natural Treatments For Hormonal Imbalance
1. Change your diet
Everything from too much sugar, processed foods, and underlying food intolerances can throw your hormones out of whack. Start by incorporating more clean, whole food sources into your diet including healthy fats which are necessary for hormone production.
2. Try adaptogens
These natural plant and herbal medicines are known for their ability to rebalance hormones and alleviate stress with little symptoms.
3. Limit toxin exposure
Endocrine disruptors and other chemicals can wreak havoc on your hormones. Make the switch to non-toxic beauty, cleaning, and personal care products to limit your toxin exposure as much as possible.
For a complete functional medicine guide to rebalancing your hormones naturally, check out my article here.
Common Hormonal Imbalances Seen In Women
We have at least 50 different hormones in our body, and very complex symptoms can arise from them, Dr. Batur says. Having too much or too little of certain hormones causes symptoms and issues with your health.
Here are some of the most common hormonal imbalances seen in people assigned female at birth .
- Menopause: Its natural to stop menstruating as you age. But menopause causes changing levels of estrogen and progesterone, which can lead to a slew of symptoms, including some that begin in the lead-up known as perimenopause.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome : When your ovaries create unusually high levels of hormones of male hormones, your reproductive hormones become imbalanced.
- Thyroid disease: Your thyroid is a small organ in your neck that produces hormones that impact many organs in your body, but sometimes, it makes either too much or too little of these hormones. There are a few kinds of thyroid disease, which means there are many possible symptoms.
- Diabetes: This common condition occurs when your pancreas doesnt make any or enough of the hormone insulin or when your body doesnt use it properly. Diabetes is the most common hormone-related condition in the United States.
There are less-common hormonal imbalances, too, like Cushings syndrome and Addisons disease. Only a doctor can help identify which hormonal imbalance youre experiencing and what course of treatment is best.
How Is Low Testosterone Diagnosed What Treatments Are Available
Most healthcare providers will measure their testosterone levels by having a blood test, doing a physical exam and having the patient describe his symptoms. Finally, they may order additional tests to rule out other possible diagnoses.
Testosterone is sometimes prescribed for men with low testosterone. Almost all hormone supplements and testosterone treatments are available in different forms, including lozenges, patches, gels and creams.
Because of the limited knowledge regarding this condition, challenges in having a proper diagnosis, as well as the possible side effects of treatments, HRT should not administer for men without proper testing, retesting and consultation with a healthcare provider to discuss the pros and cons. One may want to consider an endocrinologist who specializes in hormones.
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Hormonal Imbalance In Children: Does It Exist
Yes. Hormonal imbalances in children typically occur around puberty. This is when the sex hormones are first produced, signaling future growth in the body. Children whose bodies produce few or no sex hormones often have a condition known as hypogonadism.
In boys, hypogonadism stops the body from producing the muscle mass, body hair, and voice changes that are associated with puberty. The sex organs dont develop as they should, and the arms and legs will experience an excessive amount of growth compared to the trunk. Boys may also develop breast tissue. When girls have hypogonadism, they dont develop breast tissue, start their menstrual cycle, or experience the growth spurt thats typical of puberty.
Hypogonadism can occur either because the gonads are not producing the right hormone levels or, because the pituitary gland and hypothalamus arent signaling to the gonads to produce hormones at all. Though hypogonadism is a common cause of developmental and growth problems, there are other causes that may be causative. Always speak with your healthcare provider to gt the proper diagnosis of any abnormal development in children.
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 youre 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.
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