There are several different ways of measuring the hormones in a person’s body. At Arizona Natural Medicine ®, we primarily use blood tests to evaluate hormone levels. Especially in cases of perimenopause, menopause, irregular or painful menses, PMS, low libido, erectile dysfunction or fertility issues, hormone testing can be an effective way to determine how hormones are playing a role in your condition and what can be done about it.
Research of hormones in the blood suggest blood levels represent protein “bound hormones levels”, as well as, free fractions (“unbound hormone levels”) to provide a complete picture of the biologically active hormones. Blood testing has been the gold standard when diagnosing or monitoring response to hormone therapies. Traditional blood work in capable of testing bound and some (but not all) of free hormone levels.
Interpreting hormone levels has a lot to do with the skill of the physician and their interpretation ability coupled with the timing of when hormones are tested during the cycle. For example, to accurately evaluate ovulatory function, Follicular Stimulation Hormone (FSH), Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Estradiol (E2) are tested on Day of 3 of the cycle (Day 1 being the first day of blood flow) and detecting luteal phase defects Progesterone is tested on day 26 of a 28 day cycle. Understanding the intricacies of the menstrual cycle and hormone levels allow our skilled physicians to understand hormone balance reflective in your body based on blood levels.
Our physicians are equipped to evaluate hormones with saliva testing as well. Saliva testing has some advantages over blood testing. Saliva specimen collection does not require a blood draw and the collections are convenient and can be done at home. Although blood levels of hormones are used as the gold standard, saliva gives an additional avenue of analysis if needed.
In addition, testing the correct forms of hormones of blood levels are important for interpretation. When testing testosterone levels, our physicians will test both the free and total levels of testosterone which gives us a better understanding of what effect the biologically active free form is having on your libido, energy and mood. We also may test additional hormones unlike many physicians, such as all three forms of estrogen (Estrone, Estriol, Estradiol), DHEA-Sulphate which is a precursor to other sex hormones, along with traditional levels of FSH, LH and Progesterone. Another advantages of blood testing is that it is usually covered by insurance, whereas saliva testing often is not.
We have found that blood testing of hormones can be very effective in the diagnosis, treatment and management of hormone related conditions.