Saliva testing is an easy and noninvasive way of assessing your hormone balancing needs, and is proving to be the most reliable medium for measuring hormone levels. Unlike serum tests, saliva testing represents only hormones actively delivered to receptors in the body. Clinically, it is far more relevant to test these bioavailable hormones and provide an accurate reflection of your body’s active hormone levels.
Why test hormone levels?
Hormones are powerful molecules essential for maintaining physical and mental health. We frequently think of estrogen as being a female hormone, and testosterone as being a male hormone. But men AND women make both, plus several more that need to be in balance for optimum health. An imbalance of any one hormone can throw your physical and mental health out of balance, causing aggravating and even serious health problems.
One size does not fit all when it comes to hormones! For decades western medicine has prescribed hormone replacement therapy as if everyone needed the same thing and the same amount. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your hormones are like your fingerprints and in order to achieve optimal health, you need to know what your specific imbalances are.
There are several ways to test for hormones (saliva, serum and urine), but the state-of-the-art method is through saliva. This is because only the active portions of hormones are measured, and it is these portions that determine how individuals feel. Saliva testing is the most accurate tool to measure and monitor hormone status.
Who should be tested?
Both men and women experience changes in hormone levels with age. Sometimes those changes result in unpleasant symptoms that demand attention. Often, the changes are more subtle - yet there is still an impact on overall health. Hormone testing is applicable for:
- Men and women concerned with changing hormone levels as a result of age.
- Cycling women experiencing PMS symptoms, perhaps related to a hormonal imbalance.
- Peri- and post-menopausal women concerned with their estradiol and progesterone levels for replacement considerations.
- Those wishing to monitor their hormone levels following replacement therapy (oral, sublingual or topical), and subsequently regulate their supplement levels.
- Anyone with symptoms involving fatigue, insomnia, stress, immunity problems, blood sugar problems, and an overweight body should be tested for cortisol levels as well as "sex" hormones.
Men and women of any age who are having symptoms of hormone imbalances should test for all hormones that may be associated with their symptoms. Men and women over the age of forty may want to do a baseline test. Frequently, imbalances will be detectable for a time period before symptoms gain attention.
Which hormones need testing?
The major sex hormones to assess are estradiol, progesterone and testosterone. Estrone and estriol are also important sex hormones to consider testing. The main adrenal hormones are DHEA and cortisol. These seven hormones will provide crucial information about deficiencies, excesses and daily patterns, which then result in a specifically tailored treatment approach and one far more beneficial than the old "shotgun" approach. Below is a brief description of each of these hormones:
There are three forms made by the body: estrone, estradiol and estriol. The form used in past hormone replacement therapies is estradiol, often in the form of concentrated pregnant mare’s urine (premarin). It is a proliferative (causes growth) hormone that grows the lining of the uterus. It is also a known cancer-causing hormone: breast and endometrial (uterine) in women and prostate gland in men. It will treat menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, insomnia and memory-loss. With the bio-identical formulas estriol is matched with estradiol (biest) to provide protective effects and additional estrogenic benefits. The other major protector in keeping estradiol from running amok is progesterone. Estrone and estriol are also useful hormones to test.
Called the anti-estrogen because it balances estradiol’s proliferative effects. It is considered preventive for breast and prostate cancers as well as osteoporosis. In addition, too little progesterone promotes depression, irritability, increased inflammation, irregular menses, breast tenderness, urinary frequency and prostate gland enlargement (BPH).
An anabolic hormone (builds tissue) that is essential for men and women. The proper level of testosterone is necessary for bone health, muscle strength, stamina, sex drive and performance, heart function and mental focus.
An important adrenal gland hormone, which is essential for energy production and blood sugar balance. DHEA is a precursor to other hormones, mainly testosterone.
Your waking day hormone (highest in the morning and lowest at night). It is necessary for energy production, blood sugar metabolism, anti-inflammatory effects and stress response.
Classified as a hormone but also acting as a neurotransmitter, melatonin is primarily secreted during the dark (at night) with levels dropping dramatically after exposure to bright light. Melatonin is involved with circadian rhythms, and most commonly associated with sleep patterns and sleep disturbances.
Some of the common imbalances identified through hormone testing include estrogen dominance, estrogen deficiency, progesterone deficiency, androgen (testosterone and DHEA) excesses or deficiencies, adrenal dysfunction and adrenal fatigue.