Hormone Testing and You
By Leifson Ball, RPh
February 2, 2010
brought to you by Bellevue Pharmacy, a ProjectAWARE sponsor
Normally we don’t think about hormones when we are young.
They keep us youthful, happy and healthy, but as we age the hormones
gradually begin to decrease. The hormones that were keeping us happy
and healthy before begin to be unbalanced in our bodies. That balance
was critical to our physical and emotional well being. Now we feel
tired, gain weight and begin to forget things. Andropause in men
and menopause in women begins to impact our lives. Hormone balance
is important for age related concerns such as breast cancer, cardiovascular
disease and osteoporosis. To understand what hormone or hormones
we are lacking, we need be tested.
Hormone testing is an important tool to determine our optimal hormone
balance. Our hormones govern many of our physiological functions
such as sexuality, reproduction, thyroid function, bone density,
cholesterol and certain aspects of normal brain function. When we
think of hormones we generally think of the sex hormones such as
estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. There are other hormones
to consider also such as cortisol and dehydroepaindrosterone (DHEA).
So how do we take back control of our hormone balance? First, working
closely with our healthcare practitioners is very important. To
understand what is going on, most professionals will review your
symptoms and have laboratory work done to see which hormones are
out of balance. This will give your healthcare professional an overall
picture of what needs to be addressed. There are three types of
hormone tests. These tests are: urine, blood and saliva.
The urine test is the oldest and the simplest method of hormone
testing. Hormones appear in large amounts in the urine, more than
in blood or saliva. To measure hormones in urine you must collect
all urine produced in a 24 hour period. If all of the urine is not
collected this may cause the test to be unreliable. Also, any type
of kidney impairment may cause the levels to be unreliable. Urine
tests only measure the total amount of hormones produced for the
day and not the high and low levels that can occur throughout the
Blood testing is probably the most common test utilized. When we
think of blood testing, many think of pain and needles. Testing
now requires smaller blood samples because of improved testing techniques.
Blood tests measure hormone concentrations in the serum or plasma
part of the blood. This test looks for the protein bound and unbound
hormones in the serum. Limitations for the blood test is that it
can be considered a snapshot in time and that hormone levels can
change over the course of the day. Blood testing evaluates all circulating
hormones regardless of their availability to our body. Blood testing
is still the mainstay of all laboratory testing.
Saliva testing is one of the latest methods of evaluating hormone
levels. This method can be done at home with out a visit to a lab
or a doctor’s office. Hormones that can be tested include:
progesterone, estrogens, testosterone, DHEA, and cortisol - all
with a simple morning saliva sample. Saliva testing measures the
free or bioavailable hormones in the blood stream that are unbound
by serum binding proteins and are available to the body to use.
Measuring of the free hormones is what is important for determining
hormone balance. The limitations for saliva tests are that it is
a snap shot of what your hormones are at that time of the day.
However, there are kits that can collect samples throughout the
day, week or month showing the hormones highs and lows. The World
Health Organization has approved this method as an accurate, convenient
and noninvasive measurement of hormone levels.
Hormone testing is a means to evaluate and maintain proper hormone
balance. If you are having symptoms of hormone imbalance (depression,
fatigue, anxiety, low sex drive, hair loss, facial hair growth,
weight gain), please contact one of our consulting pharmacists 800-728-0288
or visit us online at www.bellevuerx.com.
Our consultant pharmacists are available to work with you and your
physician to determine the correct dose based on your symptoms and
lab levels. No matter which test your health professional will use,
the information along with your symptoms will help to determine
if hormone treatment is right for you.
1. Saliva Testing
Kits & Hormone Education
My Hormones Home Lab Tests
value of 24-hour urine hormone evaluations
6. Aeron Life Cycles
For questions and further information, contact Bellevue