What the test is about?
Saliva provides a more accurate level of unbound or free hormones that are considered to be the active hormone available for use by tissues.
Saliva testing is the most convenient and least invasive manner to measure patients’ hormone status, as saliva measures the body’s “free” hormone levels. Clinically, the free hormone is considered to be the active hormone available for use by tissue. Thus, it is far more relevant to test the amount of hormones delivered to the tissue receptors, as this is a reflection of the active hormone levels within the body.
It is often difficult for healthcare providers to assess accurate hormone levels with serum (blood). Serum contains both bound and unbound hormones, yet a reliable method to identify an accurate ratio between these different hormones in serum has yet to be determined.
Saliva, however, provides a more accurate level of unbound hormones available in circulation(the free hormone is considered to be the active hormone available for use by tissue). This is commonly a much lower value in comparison to serum, as it only assesses free hormones. So when there is an increase/decrease in hormones level in saliva, it indicates a much more accurate hormone level found in serum. This is particularly useful when one needs to adjust dosage of HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) or when one is in the process of stopping their HRT. Also hormones measurements need to be assessed at different time periods throughout the day because the body secretes hormones in a pulsatile fashion.
Saliva is collected at 4 different timing hence 4 tubes of 3/4 Saliva Tube Full are required.
What are we looking for with the test?
Measuring hormone levels is an important proactive step in health maintenance. Many “vague” symptoms result from hormone imbalance and can be treated if properly identified.
The major sex hormones to assess are estradiol, progesterone and testosterone. The main adrenal hormones are DHEA and cortisol. DHEA is the precursor to both female and male hormones and is released with cortisol under stressful conditions.
These seven hormones 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.
The 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.
Some of the common imbalances identified through testing include estrogen dominance, estrogen deficiency, progesterone deficiency, androgen (testosterone and DHEA) excess or deficiencies, adrenal dysfunction and adrenal fatigue.
Why would you do the test?
Hormones are essential for our overall welfare. We frequently think of estrogen as being a female hormone, and testosterone as being a male hormone. But both men and women make both, plus several more must be in balance for optimum health. An imbalance of any one hormone can throw physical and mental health out of balance, causing aggravating and even serious health problems.
Hormones are like fingerprints, and in order to achieve optimal health, people must be aware of their specific imbalances.
As we age, our hormonal makeup will begin to change as well, therefore it is ideal to understand where the imbalances are and identify an optimal therapeutic plan. Both men and women should perform a baseline test as a proactive step in maintaining physical and mental health, as imbalances may be present before symptoms manifest.
Men and women at any age who display symptoms of hormone imbalance such as:
- 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 overweight should be tested for cortisol levels as well as “sex” hormones
Specific conditions in Men:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Decrease mental ability
- Insulin resistance
- Decrease sex drive
- Weight gain
- Difficult urination
- Prostate enlargement
- Decline in muscle strength and mass
- Bone loss
Specific conditions in Female:
- Breast pain and /or tenderness
- Cysts and lumps (breasts, uterine)
- Fibrocystic breasts
- Depression / Insomnia
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Hot Flushes
- Weight gain
- Brain fog