There is alot of confusion around hormone testing, whether it is worth doing, what tests you should be requesting from your GP and what you need to be referred to privately via a qualified health practitioner.
In this blog post, I aim to shed some light for you.
Firstly, let’s clarify a few things. There are more than one different types of test:
- Blood – to test nutrients deficiencies, presence of total hormones in the body but only at the day and time the bloods are taken.
- Urine – to test whether hormones are available and being circulated around the body so they can be metabolised, over a period of a few hours.
- Saliva – provides an evaluation of the menstrual cycle in premenopausal women. For sex hormones, saliva samples are taken throughout the 28 day cycle to get a full picture of how the hormones are being produced and utilised in the body as well as whether they are rising and falling at appropriate times. When measuring cortisol, samples are taken over a 24 hour period.
The recommended range set by the NHS and that your GP will consider normal may differ from what your nutritionist or naturopath will consider. Often levels may be on the low side of the reference range and because we are all so different and we take a holistic approach rather than symptom management, it doesn’t mean that you are not getting the symptoms. I always ask my clients to ensure they get copies of their results rather than relying on a ‘normal’ from a GP’s receptionist. You are within your rights to be provided with a full copy.
Which Tests Should I Request?
If you are going to your GP for some testing then it is always best to be armed with the full list of ones you would like done to ensure you get a full panel (although be aware that just because you ask for them, you may not necessarily be given them). Here are the basic tests I like to ensure are done:
- Full Blood Count
- Liver Function
- Glucose Tolerance Test (to check your insulin levels)
- Vitamin D
- Iron levels
For specific hormone testing, you need to ensure these are taken:
- Thyroid – T4, T3 and TSH
- Sex hormones – Oestrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone (all of which decline as we age)
- LH (Luteneising Hormone) and FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) to determine whether you are going through the menopause
- Cortisol and Melatonin, to test your stress and sleep hormones
These are usually all done via a blood test and therefore as I mentioned earlier, are only taking a view of the levels in your body at that particular time. As women, our hormones fluctuate throughout the month to ensure that we ovulate and menstruate at the right times in the month for optimal fertility so I prefer to use a saliva test that covers the full 28 day cycle. Our stress hormones also fluctuate over a 24 hour period so testing those throughout that will give a full picture of how and when they are being produced.
For this reason, I now incorporate hormone testing and an adrenal stress test into my Hormonal Transformation Program. It helps to give a full picture of how your hormones are working throughout your cycle. This testing should be done alongside a full symptom review so that the best possible recommendations can be made for you and your individual needs.
I hope that sheds some light on what can be a confusing subject.
If you would like to find out more about working with me and the steps you need to take to transform your hormones then apply here for your complimentary Heal Your Hormones Strategy Call.