Hormone Tests: Why would I want to measure my hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers that regulate your mood, metabolism, fertility, & more. It’s a good idea to look into the different hormone tests available if you…
- Can’t lose weight or body fat, even when you exercise or change your diet
- Feel tired all the time, even when you get a good night’s sleep
- Want to know your hormone levels when you’re in your prime, allowing you to refer back to it years from now when you want to slow down the aging process and biohack your hormones
- Have acne or frequent breakouts no matter what product you use
- Experience irregular periods
- Have mood swings regularly
- Can’t stay asleep through the night
- Struggle with body temperature regulation (hot flashes, cold hands or feet)
What are the different kinds of hormone tests?
There are 3 different ways to measure your hormones…
- Saliva Testing
- 24-Hour Urine Testing
- Blood Testing
What hormone tests are most accurate?
There is no one-size-fits all when it comes to hormone tests. None of them are 100% accurate. Each method has pros and cons. The best hormone test for you also depends on what you’re looking to measure. Let’s review each testing method.
- Easy to do
- Uses multiple samples to show changes in hormones over time, allowing you to see the highs/lows of your hormone levels (for example, through your monthly menstrual cycle)
- Costs less than blood testing
- Accuracy can be skewed (especially for sex hormones like testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone) due to…
- Cotton collection devices
- Oral mucosa blood getting into the sample (even in a small amount)
- Improper storage of the sample
- Saliva pH
- Cannot measure FSH or IGF-1 (a good way to learn your growth hormone levels)
- No golden standard for saliva testing labs (not FDA approved)
- Many health insurance plans don’t include reimbursement for saliva hormone tests.
Bottom Line: A saliva test is for you if you want to…
- Measure your cortisol (stress hormone). Cortisol seems to be more stable than sex hormones & easier to measure using saliva.
- Measure your melatonin (important for quality sleep & natural circadian rhythm). Like cortisol, melatonin should follow a certain cyclical pattern, so samples should be collected throughout the day and night.
- Test for the hormone estriol. Research shows that estriol helps relieve symptoms of menopause, promotes heart health, and maintains bone density.
24-Hour Urine Testing
- Measures average hormone levels over 24-hours, which prevents daily fluctuations in hormones from interfering with the accuracy
- Tests a broad range of hormones (more than most blood tests), such as hormone metabolites (end products) and pro-hormones (building blocks for hormones)
- Thierry Hertoghe, M.D. and author of The Hormone Solution, sites that urinary hormone tests provide the best picture of hormone metabolism and is a great way to examine age-related hormone changes.
- Only measures hormones that the body excretes in urine
- Typically more expensive than blood and saliva tests
- Inconvenient because it requires collecting urine samples over a 24-hour period
- Excreted hormones aren’t always representative of your hormone levels in your blood and tissues
- Dehydration, excessive fluid intake, and liver or kidney disease can compromise the accuracy
Bottom Line: A 24- Hour urine test is for you if you are…
- Interested in additional information. Urine tests can provide your levels of 2/16 hydroxyestrone and 2-methoxyestradiol, which is a potential anti-cancer agent.
- Between in the age range of 35-45. Abnormal hormone levels are more common for people who fall within this age range, as opposed to healthy young adults.
- Serious about fine-tuning your hormone regime. Perhaps you fall within the age range of 45-55 & want to work with a doctor to hack your hormonal imbalances for better overall health.
- Very accessible
- Doctors are typically more comfortable interpreting the results of blood tests compared to other test methods.
- Measures amount of “free” hormones
- Preferred test method for measuring most estrogens and estradiol, testosterone (free and total), DHEA-Sulfate, thyroid hormones, pituitary hormones (TSH, LH, FSH), IGF-1, and dihydrotestosterone
- Insurance companies are more likely to cover hormone blood tests, compared to saliva and urine tests.
- Not representative of the “big picture” because blood tests can only show a single moment in time. Hormones have daily and monthly rhythms that blood tests cannot account for.
- Cannot measure estriol, a hormone you’d want to measure if you are using bioidentical hormone therapy that combines estradiol and estriol
- Exact tissue bioavailability of hormones cannot be measured accurately.
Bottom Line: A blood test is for you if you want to…
- Measure Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG). SHBG protects your supply of sex hormones.
- Know your testosterone levels. A blood test can measure both free and total testosterone.
- Get annual blood tests done. If you already get some kind of blood test every year, try asking your doctor to tack on a hormone panel.
- Accurately measure PSA levels. The PSA test detects prostate cancer.
- Use bioidentical hormones (creams or pills) to improve a health condition. Blood tests allow you to see if you’re absorbing the hormones you’re taking. You can know if you’ve hit optimal levels or when it’s time to stop using hormone replacement therapy.
What are the best hormone tests?
If you’d like to test your hormones for the least amount of money, check with your doctor to see if he/she could do one that’s covered by your insurance. If that is not an option and you’d like to order a test online, checkout one of these respected companies:
- ZRT Laboratory: This company offers a comprehensive test kit for both women and men.
- Wellness FX: This company also provides consultations with a medical professional who can interpret your results (at an additional cost). Their test kits measure many important wellness markers.
- Accesa Labs: Similar to Wellness FX, this company provides secure, electronic lab results.
Thank you for reading! Comment below if you’ve ever gotten your hormones tested… What type of test did you do? What did you learned from it?