A Comprehensive Guide to Saliva Hormone Testing
What is Saliva Hormone Testing?
Many people, including most conventional health professionals, have no idea that you can test your hormone levels (stress hormones and sex hormones) via saliva. But the fact is you can and we find it is one of the best ways to assess hormone levels when it comes to health issues like:
- Hormonal acne
- Premenstrual mood fluctuations
- Adrenal fatigue/burnout
- Peri-menopause and menopause problems (hot flushes, night sweats, weight gain, irritability)
- Heavy periods, light periods, painful periods, irregular periods, amenorrhea
Collecting your saliva is such an easy and convenient testing method because it's non-invasive, pain-free and stress-free.
Overview of Saliva Hormone Testing
Saliva hormone testing involves collecting samples of saliva and measuring the levels of stress hormones (cortisol, DHEAS) and sex hormones (oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone) in them. It is a very easy test to do because all it involves is dribbling your saliva into small plastic tubes.
This makes saliva hormone testing stress-free as it doesn't involve needles, blood or pain. It is hassle free and convenient because it's self-collection, which means you don't have to find time in your day to get to a blood drawing centre/lab. You can do it anywhere at any time.
Types of Saliva Hormone Tests
There are two types of saliva tests. The first and the most common is where saliva is collected by dribbling/spitting saliva into a plastic tube.
The second type of saliva test uses a cotton swab that is chewed on for 30 to 60 seconds. The cotton absorbs saliva from the mouth and is squeezed to release the saliva into a collection tube.
Benefits of Saliva Hormone Testing
Saliva hormone testing is great because it:
Measures tissue hormone levels. This is the amount of hormone in your body, not your bloodstream, so it's a fantastic way to assess how much of an effect a hormone is having on you.
Allow easy collection of multiple samples. This is particularly important when measuring cortisol because its level fluctuates over the day
Can be done at any time of the day or night as you collect the saliva samples yourself. This is important when measuring oestrogen and progesterone because these two hormones are best collected 5 to 7 days before a period in pre-menopausal women. This may not be a convenient day to go to a blood drawing centre for a blood test. But it doesn't matter with saliva hormone testing.
Only measures free hormones. Hormones come in two forms 'bound' and 'free'. Bound hormones have little effect on the body as they are inactive. Free hormones are the active form of a hormone and are what affect the functioning of your body.
Is pain-free, needle-free and stress-free
Sample Collection Process
Saliva samples are collected in small plastic tubes. The tubes are shipped to you from a lab that we use in your country or region. We have a lab that services Australia, one that services the US and Canada, one that services the UK and one that services Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Depending on the hormones being tested you may need to collect 1 sample (if only testing sex hormones) or 4 samples (if testing cortisol or cortisol and sex hormones).
When testing cortisol only or cortisol and sex hormones for men and post-menopausal women, saliva samples can be collected on any day of the week but preferably Sunday, Monday or Tuesday.
When testing sex hormones in pre-menopausal women, saliva samples are collected 5 to 7 days before the next period.
Preparation for Saliva Hormone Tests
Before collecting your saliva samples, there are a couple of essential things you need to do:
stop herbs that can directly affect stress and sex hormone levels such as licorice root, ginseng, rhodiola, ashwagandha, maca, vitex, paeony, tribulus, saw palmetto, and nettle root to name a few
continue taking prescribed pharmaceutical medications
Caffeine or Alcohol
don't consume caffeine or alcohol on the day you collect your saliva samples
Interpreting Saliva Hormone Test Results
As with all tests, it's best to have an experienced practitioner interpret the results because there is a lot of subtlety in pinpointing hormone imbalances. All your results could be in the 'normal' ranges but you could still have a hormone imbalance because some of your hormone levels are high or low when compared to other hormone levels.
It takes an experienced eye to see this and you don't want to think everything is 'normal' when in actual fact everything isn't. We have been interpreting these tests for years so we have experience from looking at thousands of saliva hormone tests to detect unobvious hormone imbalances.
Common Uses of Saliva Hormone Tests
We use saliva hormone testing to guide our wholistic natural treatments. They help us understand the interplay between stress and its effects on reproductive hormones.
Common health issues we use saliva testing for are -
Potential Risks and Alternatives
to Saliva Hormone Testing
There are no real risks of saliva hormone testing as it is non-invasive. The only potential issue is if it is used as the sole diagnostic test to assess a potential pathological health condition.
This is why it is essential that saliva hormone testing is done under the guidance of a health professional as they will know whether other additional testing methods are necessary.
Common Questions: Saliva Testing
(True or False)
TRUE: It is when it comes to testing hormone levels for non-disease conditions such as -
- Hormonal acne
- Menstrual cycle and period problems
- Peri-menopause and menopause symptoms
- Fatigue and post-viral fatigue
- Poor thyroid function
- Difficulty losing weight
This is because in these health issues, the symptoms are the result of subtle hormone imbalances. Blood hormone test results usually come back in the normal range, whereas saliva hormone test results are good at picking them up.
Non-invasive and pain-free testing
Saliva hormone testing is a great way to check your hormone levels because it is accurate, is simple to do, is non-invasive and is pain-free. It is our preferred way to check hormones because it gives us the best idea of a person's hormone imbalances than other types of testing.
So if you have hormonal acne, PCOS, menstrual cycle problems, peri-menopause or menopause symptoms, chronic fatigue or adrenal fatigue and you want your hormones checked then schedule a consultation with one of our naturopaths by clicking here. We offer in-clinic face to face and online Zoom consultations.