Hormone Testing: A Key to Balancing Your Wellbeing

Category: Hormonal Acne

Hormonal imbalances can impact you physically in many different ways. These include acne, PMS, period problems, peri-menopause symptoms, fatigue, anxiety, and weight gain.

Mentally, hormone imbalances can affect mood and overall well-being. Imbalances in cortisol levels (stress hormone) can lead to anxiety, depression, and difficulty coping with stress management. Hormonal imbalances relating to estrogen and progesterone can cause mood changes throughout the cycle.

To solve hormone imbalance issues, hormone testing is an invaluable method to diagnose, pinpoint the root cause and correct hormone related problems..

Hormone testing can test for hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEAS, cortisol, and many more. When testing hormones, depending on the person and their symptoms, they may be required to do the test on a particular day. this is particularly the case for cycling women as their hormone levels fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle.

The Importance of Hormone Balance

Hormones play a crucial role in the intricate regulation of bodily functions, acting as messengers that facilitate communication between different parts of the body. They are produced by various glands in the endocrine system and released into the bloodstream, where they travel to target organs or tissues to exert their effects.

For instance, insulin regulates glucose metabolism by facilitating the uptake of glucose into cells. Hormones like estrogen and testosterone are pivotal in reproductive health, influencing sexual development, fertility, and pregnancy. Thyroid hormones control your metabolic rate. Stress hormones control your ability to cope with life.

When hormone production becomes unbalanced, it can trigger a range of symptoms such as pimples, weight gain, fluid retention, hair loss, abnormal hair growth, heavy periods, light periods, no period (amenorrhea), fatigue, moodiness, irritability sadness, or low sex drive.

When your hormones are unbalanced, your health and well-being suffer.

So, hormone balance is crucial no matter your age or stage of life.

What Is Hormone Testing?

It always puzzles me how doctors (GPs, dermatologists and gynaecologists) give women hormonal treatments for acne, period problems, peri-menopause and menopause problems without ever testing them to see what their hormone levels are like.

It seems pretty straightforward to me that if hormone dysfunction is the cause of an issue, you need to know what the hormone levels are like before you supply or provide a treatment. Otherwise, you’re just dishing out treatments willy-nilly based only on assumptions.

The only doctors who seem to test hormones regularly are endocrinologists, probably because hormones are their specialty. But they, like most other doctors, will only ever do blood hormone testing. Blood testing is great, but it’s not always the best way to check hormone levels for many of the hormone problems people suffer from.

We find blood hormone testing best for the following hormones –

  • Luteinizing hormone
  • Follicle stimulating hormone
  • Insulin

To assess testosterone, oestrogen, progesterone, cortisol and DHEAS, we prefer to use two other methods of hormone testing. They are –

  1. Saliva Hormone Testing – This is the most common method of hormone testing we use for assessing testosterone, oestrogen, progesterone, cortisol and DHEAS
  2. Urine Hormone Testing (DUTCH Test) – We use urine hormone testing for more complex hormone imbalance issues because it not only assesses testosterone, oestrogen, progesterone, cortisol and DHEAS, but it also assesses hormone detoxification pathways.

Types of Hormone Tests

So now that you’re aware that there are more ways to check your hormones than just blood testing, let’s look at these 3 types of hormone testing in more detail –

Blood Testing

Blood testing is great for identifying diseases and major hormone imbalances in your body. However, it’s not so great for picking up the more subtle hormone imbalances like the ones that drive hormonal acne.

Blood hormone tests tell you how much hormone has been produced, but they don’t tell you how much hormone is in your tissues, such as your skin.

The issue with looking at levels in the bloodstream is it doesn’t tell you if hormones are building up in your muscle, body fat tissue or skin.

Hormone accumulation is a pretty common problem because of the toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis, such as car fumes, plastics, skincare preservatives, pesticides, and other household chemicals.

These toxins stop your body from detoxifying and eliminating hormones, and as a result, they build up in your body’s tissues, like your skin, but not your bloodstream. So in a blood test hormone levels can look normal when actually they may be elevated.

Saliva Testing

We find saliva hormone testing better because it measures the level of hormones around your cells, as opposed to what’s circulating in your bloodstream. Because saliva is a fluid that comes out of your body, it more accurately reflects your tissue hormone levels.

And it’s tissue hormone levels that influence how your sebaceous (oil) glands will behave and drive acne formation. It’s tissue hormone levels that promote fat accumulation rather than fat loss. And tissue hormone levels that influence the growth of breast and uterine tissue.

The other fantastic benefit of saliva testing is that it can be done anywhere and at any time of the day, it’s non-invasive and pain-free.

Urine Testing

As with saliva, your urine also tells you about tissue hormone levels. Urine testing is the best method to use when assessing hormone levels AND also how effectively your body detoxifies (breaks down and eliminates) hormones.

Hormone detoxification can’t be assessed via blood or saliva. We use this type of testing when patients tell us they didn’t respond well to hormonal birth control pills, or they complain of premenstrual headaches, extremely heavy periods, breast lumps, extreme PMS or have previously had hormone-dependent cancer.

It is easy to do, non-invasive and pain-free, like saliva hormone testing, but you do need access to a bathroom to do it.

Case Study – Hormonal Acne

Gender – Female

Age – 20

Test – Saliva Hormone Test

Results – High noon cortisol, suboptimal afternoon cortisol and DHEAS, low progesterone, high testosterone and oestrogen.

Natural Treatment Plan

Diet – Eat 3 meals a day. Make sure to include protein at every meal. A bowl sized serving of fruit or vegetables at every meal. Unrefined carbs only

Exercise – Strength, yoga and walking

Sleep – Minimum of 7 hours a night

Stress management – breathwork (Wim Hof breathing), meditation

Supplements – Herbal tonic, high magnesium multivitamin & mineral powder, progesterone supporting herbal capsule, Oestrogen detoxification improving supplement

Outcome – hormonal acne cleared

How to Prepare for a Hormone Test

When it comes to testing your hormones, there are a few crucial points you need to keep in mind, such as –

  1. Sex hormones (testosterone, oestrogen, progesterone, luteinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone) need to be checked in the morning as their levels decline over the day.
  2. When testing sex hormones in a pre-menopausal woman, testing at the correct time of her cycle is important. For baseline readings of oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone, follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, they need to be tested on day 2, 3 or 4 of the period. This is best done with a blood test. To check if tissue hormone levels in a menstruating woman are optimal, then this should be done with a saliva or urine hormone test 5 to 7 days before a period. For men and menopausal women, hormones can be checked in the morning on any day.
  3. Cortisol and DHEAS can be checked on any day, but the test is usually paired with sex hormones, so the test may need to be done on a specific day. When testing stress hormones, you can’t consume any caffeine on that day as it will artificially elevate the cortisol levels.

When preparing for blood tests, it’s important to be well hydrated so that it’s easy for the person doing the blood draw to find a vein. Most blood tests require you to fast as well, but this doesn’t mean don’t drink water. Fasting is critical when testing insulin levels.

Saliva hormone testing is easy to prepare for. Be well hydrated so that you can generate plenty of saliva as you need to fill 5ml plastic collection tubes.

Urine hormone testing is also very easy to prepare for. As with saliva hormone testing, be well hydrated but not overly hydrated otherwise your urine will be too dilute. 8 glasses of water throughout the day will be sufficient.

Interpreting Hormone Test Results

On one level, interpreting hormone test results is pretty straightforward… are the hormone levels within the specified ranges or are they above or below the ranges?

However, frustratingly, many people get their hormones checked because they have obvious hormone imbalance issues such as hormonal acne, heavy periods, no periods (amenorrhoea) or severe PMS, but their hormone levels come back all in the normal range.

This is because hormone issues don’t always result from overtly high or low hormone levels. We have discovered that many hormone issues result from hormones being in the ‘normal’ range, but one or some hormones are high or low compared to another or other hormones.

This is where expertise in interpreting hormone results is critical for getting to the root cause of a hormone problem. We have looked at 1000s of hormone test results and can see the subtle patterns of hormone imbalance that less skilled practitioners fail to see.

So if you are going to get your hormones tested, then make sure to get them tested by someone who knows how to see the signs.

Natural Remedies and Lifestyle Changes for Hormone Balance

Hormone balance relies on many factors, and the first thing to consider is your lifestyle. Here are 3 tips to get you into hormonal flow –

  1. Eat unprocessed whole foods, eat at regular times and don’t fast. Fasting can be great, but it also causes stress on your body, so it raises stress hormones, which then suppress sex hormones.
  2. Move your body as exercise is a great stress reliever. However, keep high intensity exercise to a minimum as it places a lot of physical stress on your body. Also, avoid endurance exercises such as training for a marathon because running for hours on end triggers the release of stress hormones and suppresses sex hormones.
  3. Adequate sleep, more than 7 hours a night, is essential. Studies have shown that just 3 days of 6 hours or less sleep reduces hormone levels by up to 15%

In addition to optimising your lifestyle, supplements are also essential. This is where testing hormone levels is essential because it highlights what hormones need to be rebalanced and therefore what supplements will be needed to do that. Many people take supplements without ever testing their hormone levels, which begs the question… how do they know if they are taking the correct supplements?

The answer is they don’t. They’re just guessing. This is why our motto is… Test, don’t guess!

Wrapping Up

Hormone imbalances are often the root cause of the health problems many people suffer from. And in particular, they are at the centre of acne, PMS, period problems, peri-menopause and weight gain issues. But despite this, many sufferers and the health professionals they see fail to test their hormones.

So, if you suffer from any of these issues, then you need to get your hormones tested. And as I mentioned earlier, make sure you get them tested by someone who knows how to interpret the results properly.

Considering A Hormone Test?

And we can help you with this. We have helped over 1000 women and men overcome their hormone issues such as acne, PMS, period problems and weight gain by getting their hormones tested and then creating a personalised natural hormone balancing lifestyle and supplement program for them.

To get our help is easy. All you need to do is book an initial consultation with one of our hormone specialist naturopaths. You can do this by either contacting us at Happy & Healthy Wellbeing Centre, or clicking here to book your initial consultation online.

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