Testing Trends: Here are your hormone testing options
Are you feeling tired? Have you gained weight recently? PMS or period pain? How about mood imbalances? There are a variety of hormones that play a role in our health including: androgens such as testosterone and DHEA, estrogen, cortisol, progesterone and melatonin. There are also hormone metabolites – which occur when the hormones get broken down and processed in our body. Think of estrogen as the parent hormone, and the metabolites as the kids. Hormone imbalances can lead to a cascade of conditions and symptoms, which aren’t always obvious. For example, excess estrogen relative to progesterone can lead to irritability and anxiety, while excess progesterone can contribute to depression.
So what are the different ways to test my hormones?
1) Serum (blood test): This involves going to a lab and getting your blood taken, which is pretty simple. Serum blood test is the gold standard for testing reproductive hormones. While it is able to give you a total value, the value is from one point in time and it does not further break down metabolites.
2) Saliva: This test involves spitting a large amount of saliva into a tube at various points throughout the day or month. Saliva testing can be very useful in tracking progesterone and estrogen throughout the menstrual cycle, as samples are taken more then once. This can help define peaks (or lack of peaks) in hormone levels correlating to symptoms. Cortisol can also be measured with this test. The downside of saliva testing is that it is often inaccurate for pre and postmenopausal women and accuracy can be user dependent.
3) 24hr Urine: This involves collecting your urine at various points throughout the day. This urine test is great for testing a wide range of metabolites, as it is more expansive then both the serum and saliva testing. However, it does require collecting and storing your urine for a full 24hrs.
4) DUTCH: This test has the easiest collection method, as it involves peeing on a strip 4x during the day. It offers a wide range of hormone metabolites, as well as other non-hormonal measurements. However, the price is the highest of all the tests mentioned above and it is a relatively new test.
So lets talk about the DUTCH test
The DUTCH test, which stands for dried urine total complete hormones, is quickly becoming the preferred test among health care providers. As mentioned earlier, it not only has the easiest collection method, but offers the widest range of measurements, including reproductive hormones, cortisol, neurotransmitters and organic acid markers. Measuring metabolites is important. Certain conditions such as PCOS and PMS can have an elevation of specific metabolites, leading to an increase in symptoms. With these results, treatment options can be individualized to help process these hormones much more efficiently or help clear them from the body easier.
So what now?
Speak with your local naturopathic doctor about which hormone test is right for you. During a visit, I am able to listen to your symptoms and concerns and help fit the puzzle pieces together. Hormone testing, such as the DUTCH test, can help us get an inside view into what is really going on. Want to talk more about hormones? Book in to have a chat with me here or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The basics of hormone testing- PDF. dutchtest.com