Hormones are chemical messengers in your body. They’re secreted by various glands into your blood, and are then carried off to locations in your body where they tell your organs and tissues what to do.
There are all kinds of hormones–you’ve probably heard of many, with names like cortisol, testosterone, estrogen, melatonin, growth hormone–even insulin is a hormone.
In this post, we’re going to look specifically at female sex hormones, and get into exactly how and why we measure them. (Men, we’ll get to you in a later post. Although you might want to read on, as this stuff no doubt affects your life, perhaps more than you realize.:))
Why test your hormones?
When any chemical messenger in your body doesn’t work right, or changes dramatically, we often get physical symptoms in the body–changes that we don’t expect or want.
Some symptoms associated with hormone imbalance in the menstrual cycle, for example, include:
- Heavy bleeding
- Fertility issues
- Mood swings
- Migraine headaches
- Hot flashes
Those are pretty frequent complaints here at StoneTree, and to find out exactly what’s going on, we try to measure hormone levels. If we can identify a hormonal culprit behind your symptoms, it can save a lot of time, expense, effort and side effects as we try to bring things back into balance.
Good testing, in other words, can be a shortcut to good results.
But, testing hormones can be tricky…
Using lab tests to understand what is going on with our hormones is not as cut and dried as you might imagine, for two reasons.
- Our hormones change. This is true for men, too, but more obvious for us women. We have a menstrual cycle in which the ebb and flow of hormones creates a uterine lining, matures an egg, and makes the uterus hospitable to a growing fetus. But it’s a cycle, and that makes it a moving target–it’s tougher to get results we can connect to symptoms.
- Hormones have no function in our blood. Blood is just the FedEx of hormone delivery–it just carries hormones around the body to where they need to work. A blood test, therefore, can tell us whether or not a gland is making the hormone in the correct amounts, but it can’t tell us whether the hormone is in the cells doing its job.
Enter salivary hormone testing…
Saliva testing helps us better understand how well our hormones are functioning for two reasons:
- First, because it isn’t a blood test, it better measures the amount of hormone that actually makes it into your tissues.
- Second, because we take 11 samples over the course of a month, we get an entire picture of your cycle. Women who are experiencing cyclical symptoms find this test awesome because the 11 samples over 33 days allow us to figure out more accurately where and when the problem is.
The saliva test is a great way to test your hormone levels, and it’s easier than it sounds. You do all the collecting at home…and no needles!
For more information, or to get your sample kit, just contact the clinic at 705-444-5331, or book online anytime.