Hormone Testing and YOU
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 day.
Blood testing is probably the most common test preformed. 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 the best indicator of your body's need for hormone replacement. Saliva measure the bio-available or "free fraction" of the hormone. Collections are precisely time to correspond with cycles and daily hormonal patterns. Saliva testing is Non-invasive, economical and can be collected at home with no special handling requirements.
Hormone testing is a means to evaluate and maintain proper hormone balance. 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.
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