Why You Should Test
As we age our hormone levels, allergies, and intolerances can become more of an issue than they were in our youth. How often have we heard the words “Wait until you hit 40. That’s when your eyes go,” or “Wait until you hit 50. Your breasts will start to sag and your bum will droop?” We all think it is not going to happen to us because we are fitter, healthier, or have better genes.
The reality is that every day our bodies change, our environment changes, and our lifestyles change. Change is happening at such a dramatic rate that we are barely able to keep up. But for us to maintain and improve our health, it is important to know what our baseline is.
For women, testing is a good indicator of what is happening hormonally. It allows us to keep track of where we are in our life and also reminds us that we all have a different range for “normal.”
When testing hormones it is important to remember that there is a range by which every test is measured. For example:
Progesterone levels during the menstrual cycle – Days 1-14: Less than 1 nanogram per millilitre (ng/mL) or 0.5-2.3 or nanomoles per Litre nmol/L
Days 15-28: 2-25 ng/mL or 6.4-79.5 nmol/L
Progesterone levels during pregnancy
1st Trimester: 10-44 ng/mL or 32.6-140 nmol/L
2nd trimester: 19.5-82.5 ng/mL or 62-262 nmol/L
3rd trimester: 65-290 ng/mL or 206.7-728 nmol/L
Progesterone levels in men
Normal: Less than 1 ng/mL or less than 3.2 nmol/L
Progesterone levels after menopause
Normal: Less than 1.0 ng/mL or less than 2 nmol/L
It can be quite confusing for women when they’re told that their hormones are within normal ranges. You could have naturally sat on the higher end of the scale throughout your 20’s and early 30’s, then start having symptoms of hormonal changes as you age. These symptoms are very real. After all, fluctuations naturally occur as we age. Your normal may not be someone else’s normal. It is important to acknowledge that we are all different. Some women are more sensitive than others to these hormonal fluctuations. For example, some women may have been on a contraceptive pill, so their hormonal cycles have been regulated and controlled with a synthetic substance.
Hormonal testing is not just restricted to testing your reproductive hormones. Hormonal testing can be for Cortisol Levels (stress), Melatonin Levels (insomnia), Neurotransmitters (mood disorders), and IgA Levels (food intolerances, allergies, and Celiac Disease). These are to name just a few.
Testing for imbalances or possible intolerances is beneficial because you know what is happening in your body and explaining why you may be feeling unwell, exhausted, moody, or gaining weight. There are many reasons as to why you and your body are not in balance. Finding the answers is like being your own private investigator. Sometimes it takes a process of elimination to uncover the true root of your health issues.
Testing your body intolerances or imbalances may uncover the possible hindrances that can affecting your Health and Wellness.
Testing Hormone Levels
Hormone balance is essential to good health for women of all ages. Unfortunately, the accuracy of the tests used to determine hormone levels varies widely. We encourage and use of saliva testing because research has shown that saliva testing gives far more accurate results. Below are the types of tests that can be used to determine hormone levels:
Saliva testing has been used in clinical research, including studies conducted at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for more than 30 years. Saliva testing has proven to be a more reliable source of testing that Serum (blood) testing for the body’s levels of Cortisol, DHEA, Estrogen, Progesterone, and Testosterone. Saliva testing more accurately identifies the hormone levels at the cellular level, in comparison to a serum (blood) test, which measures the hormones levels circulating in the bloodstream.
However, saliva testing is not helpful for monitoring women who are taking hormones in a sub-lingual (drops or spray) or tansmucosal (lozenge or troche) format. These forms of hormone delivery concentrate the hormones in the salivary glands, so the resulting saliva levels are too high to be accurate.
Saliva testing has been available to physicians for over a decade. Medicare, as well as many insurance companies, provide reimbursement.
Serum or Blood Testing
Most serum tests define the normal range of hormones very broadly, which is their most distinct disadvantage. After a woman’s blood has been drawn, a portion of the blood sample (the serum) is used to measure hormone levels. Most serum testing measures the level of “free” hormones (the hormones that can easily enter the cell), the level of the “total” hormones (the hormones attached to substances that carry hormones in the bloodstream), or a calculated combination of both free and total hormones. It is not an accurate reflection of the bio-available hormones (the amount of hormones that is active in organs and tissues). In addition, the results of serum testing are often inconsistent, especially if the hormone value indicated is in the low-normal range. Serum testing is also less helpful in monitoring women using transdermal (patch or cream) forms of hormones, as the hormone is bound to the red blood cell surface and does not register in the serum in very high amounts.
Many women whose serum test results are normal cannot understand why they continue to experience the symptoms of hormone imbalance. With saliva testing, however, patients are provided with a more exact range.
So when considering whether to test or not to test, keep in mind that:
- It allows you to keep a timeline of where your body is
- It allows you to make informed decisions when it comes to your treatment
- It can help you manage your hormones in a more natural manner
- It is an indicator of possible problems that may be inhibiting your Health and Wellness Journey[/checklist]