Hormones are special messengers in the body that are created in the endocrine glands. They control most of the major body functions, from simple basic needs like hunger to complex systems like reproduction, and even the emotions and mood. Therefore understanding this hormone functions and their tests will greatly help patients to take control of their body.
What is hormone testing?
Hormone testing is helpful for finding out if hormone levels are optimal for health. This test is carried on hormones in saliva, urine and hair. However, in conventional hormone testing, basic parent hormones are usually measured in blood.
How is hormone testing done?
Traditionally, all hormone testing was done via serum, but this days, it is possible to use serum, saliva and urine to assess a wide array of hormones. Each of these methodologies has advantages and limitations and each has a best use. Sometimes a combination of tests will be necessary to provide complete information. Below is a list of hormone test methodologies:
- Test by Serum
- Test by Saliva
- Test by Urine
1. Test by Serum
This method has long been accepted by the conventional medical community as the standard for testing hormones. This method is relatively very simple, less patient involvement and has very well-established reference ranges. Serum is ideal for testing peptide hormones such as FSH, LH, prolactin, fasting insulin, and thyroid hormones including reverse T3, as well as thyroid antibodies.
It is also used to measure sex hormones binding globulin, and less commonly, cortisol binding globulin. However, for sex hormones, serum testing has more limited utility. The reason being, for most sex hormones, no distinction is made in serum between bound and free hormones. Estradiol, estriol, and progesterone are reported as total hormones and free hormones assays are not commonly available.
Limitations of serum hormone testing
- Serum hormone testing does not typically allow for the measurement of estrogen.
- Measuring progesterone supplementation in serum also poses a problem
- For most sex hormones, no distinction is made in serum between bound and free hormones.
- Estradiol, estriol, and progesterone are reported as total hormones and free hormones assays are not commonly available.
2. Test by Saliva
Saliva testing has gained popularity among practitioners of functional medicine. Saliva has the advantage of being noninvasive as well as being accessible to practitioners such as naturopathic physicians, chiropractors, and acupuncturists who may be practicing in states where they are not licensed to order blood tests or draw blood.
Saliva collection also allows for multiple collections over a period of a day or month, which can help elucidate abnormal hormonal patterns, such as shortened lacteal phase. While this can be theoretically be done with a serum test, it would be logistically cumbersome.
3. Test by Urine
This test is less common in clinical practice than either serum or saliva, yet it is quite common in research. There are different urine test methods available, this includes; a 24-hour collection test and also dry urine test which involves taking 4 urine samples throughout the day on a piece of paper which is dried and tested .
Basically, a 24-hour urine collection is preferred method for testing hormones that are secreted at night and during deep sleep, such as growth hormone and melatonin, and is the most economical and reliable way to evaluate steroid hormones metabolites.
Limitations of urine hormone testing
- All urine hormone testing methods are not equal. Single-point urine collection does not account for individual differences I hormone secretion, especially for patients with nontraditional schedules such as workers.
- Just as single-point and 24-hour collection are different, not all technical methods of urine assay are equally accurate.
- Twenty-four urine hormone results may be altered in patients with significant liver or kidney disease.
What is the importance of hormone testing?
Hormones are biochemical that act as messengers throughout one’s body. Hormone testing is important component to overall health and can help identify and uncover significant health and wellness issues that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. Hormone testing is an important consideration to make when you are faced with changes in mood, libido, body weight, attitude and energy.
Those who have completed basic blood hormone tests often find that the underlying cause of their condition is easily managed and can be controlled through hormone therapy. The basic hormone testing kits available today are:
- Cortisol test
Its available in both saliva and blood-based testing formats, the cortisol hormone is an important factor in stress management. Lack of cortisol possibly indicates an issue with the adrenal cortex.
- Insulin test kit
To determine how much insulin a patient’s pancreas is producing, a substance that manage blood sugars and metabolize fats and carbohydrates.
- Testosterone test kit
Conducting this test not only help males but can also benefit females. Males can test for dihydrotestosterone which is a leading indicator of male pattern baldness and prostate problems. Females often test for cortisol levels, progesterone, and other hormones that can trigger menopause symptoms.
- Progesterone test kit
It is a female hormone released by the ovaries during ovulation. The test is often used by women who are either having trouble getting pregnant or are experiencing difficulties or abnormalities with their menstrual cycle. You will need to stop taking any medication that contains progesterone or estrogen at least a month before you take the progesterone test.
- Thyroid test kit
The thyroid works to balance body’s metabolism and control the distribution of calcium in the system. Hypo and hyperthyroidism are the conditions that can significantly affect a patient’s ability to lose weight, regulate their body temperature, maintain healthy skin, hair, and a host of other unpleasant side effects.
- Estrogen test kit
Estrogen test for women are available in a variety of configurations. Some panels are available for men that help deliver a serious dose of anti-aging insight. Each test helps uncover basic estrogen levels, as well as estradiol, estrone serums, and other vital indicators.
- Salivary Test Kit
This test not only deliver a comprehensive profile of your hormone levels but they are also easily be managed from the comfort of your own home.
Where to get hormone testing services
If you are experiencing health problems and hormonal imbalances, it’s time to look into what is going on with your hormones. Specialist hormone therapy clinics and experts can help you determine whether you have a hormone imbalance and the right treatment options to take.
This will help you to understand exactly what’s out of whack and how you can start getting back to balance so that your hormones no longer suffer.