Have you ever seen a health practitioner after feeling “hormonal” around that time of the month and they do a blood test and it comes back normal? But you know that you weren’t “normal” over that time, and so does your partner!
A USA and UK study showed that women diagnosed with endometriosis will on average have a delay in diagnosis by 9 years in the USA and 8 years in the UK (1). We live in a culture where period pain is normal and we are often told to “get on with it”.
Testing your hormones can give you a great insight into what is happening with your cycles. And it can confirm what your intuition is telling you – but not always.
Often a blood test is done on any day of the cycle (usually just when you get to the pathology place) and at any time of the day. So when your results come in, if you’re not sure where you were in your cycle, the blood test may be obsolete. Your hormones also vary from morning to night, so unless this is taken into consideration, it is something to be aware of.
Lastly, approximately 98% of our hormones are bound to a protein called Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG), which means that the hormone can’t be used by our body. The other 2% is our free hormone (this is what our body uses to make things happen!). A blood test measures 100% of the hormones – so it measures what your body is using and what it isn’t. This means that hormonal imbalances are picked up when there is a severe issues like polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis and fibroids.
But what if the hormonal imbalance started earlier than when this condition presented? Often women will experience symptoms before they become severe.
While a 24 hour urine test is the most accurate way of measuring your hormones (yes, you need to collect your urine for 24 hours!) a Saliva Hormone Test is quick, easy and can be done at home with no urine sloshing round! Saliva Hormone Testing only measures free hormone. This means it measures what your body is using and therefore it helps to pick up mind and moderate symptoms (as well as severe ones), therefore often confirming your intuition that something is out of balance.
When to complete the test is very important. Ideally, we prefer it’s done 7 days before your next period. This can take some guess work, and often we will send you home with two tubes to take 2 samples to help take all the guess work out of when to do it. We also ask that you do it when you wake up in the morning between 6 and 10am.
So next time you’re feeling “hormonal” and wonder what is going on with your hormones, consider doing a Saliva Hormone Test with your naturopath. It may give you some information you’ve been looking for!(1) Hadfield, R et al Delay in the diagnosis of Endometriosis: a survey of women in the USA and UK Oxford Journals Volume 11, Issue 4 pp. 878 -880