Female Hormone Panel
Women of any age can be affected by hormone issues. Women who still have menstrual cycles may experience infertility, premenstrual syndrome, mood swings, anxiety, painful periods and other symptoms as a result of hormone imbalance. Women in peri-menopause and menopause often experience debilitating sleep disturbances, night sweats, hot flashes, accelerated bone loss and many other symptoms related to hormone changes. The Female Panel helps healthcare professionals sort out the specifics of the hormone imbalance.
Other conditions associated with hormone imbalance include:
- weight gain
- depression, irritability, difficulty coping
- bone loss
- breast cancer
Saliva hormone testing is simple, accurate, and easily obtained. Five hormones make up the Female Panel: cortisol, DHEAs, estradiol, progesterone and testosterone. Interactions between these hormones are fundamental to health - which is why imbalances can have a significant impact on well-being.
Women with symptoms not relieved by mainstream medical interventions may benefit from having a saliva hormone test. Knowing your hormone levels and how hormones work together may help your clinician find the right hormone solution for you.
Common Hormone Concerns:
Interactions between the five hormones of the female panel (see right) are fundamental to health, which means hormone imbalance may negatively impact well-being. The following are some examples of how hormone imbalance can affect health:
High levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, can cause unstable blood sugars and may increase sugar cravings. High estrogen levels may interfere with thyroid gland function and result in weight gain. High levels of testosterone and/or DHEAs may be associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome, a condition that makes it difficult to lose weight.
Depression / Difficulty Coping / Irritability
Our laboratory data showed that 2 of 3 of women who self-reported depression or difficulty coping and 7 of 10 who reported irritability had at least one hormone out of range. While there is no guarantee that restoring hormone balance will lessen these mood symptoms, many women report some relief from mood disorders when hormone balance is achieved.
High or low levels of cortisol may affect sleep, as may low levels of estradiol. For some postmenopausal women, difficulty sleeping is directly related to hot flashes and night sweats, which are often signs of hormone imbalance. Once hormone imbalances are addressed, sleep issues may resolve.
Having too little estrogen can be associated with hot flashes, but so can supplementing with too much estrogen. Maintaining the right amount of estrogen is one factor in controlling hot flashes.
Testosterone and estradiol help build bone, while high cortisol tends to break down bone. High cortisol not only accelerates bone loss, but also interferes with the bone-building action of testosterone.
A common pattern of hormone imbalance shows up in women with breast cancer: above range estradiol, below range progesterone, above range evening cortisol and out of range DHEAs.
The hormones we analyze in this test:
- Estradiol is the strongest hormone in the estrogen family, followed by estrone. Estriol is the weakest. The MLHA reports estradiol levels.
- Estrogen receptors are found throughout the body including: heart, brain, breast, bone, bladder, blood vessels.
- Responsible for female sex characteristics, estrogens also help build the lining of the uterus (endometrium).
- Progesterone helps balance the effects of estrogens.
- Progesterone is highest in the latter half of cycle because it is released by the corpus luteum, which only forms after ovulation.
- This major stress hormone is released by the adrenal glands.
- High or low cortisol levels may indicate poor adrenal function.
- DHEA is an adrenal hormone that circulates in blood as DHEA sulfate (DHEAS).
- After menopause, estrogen and testosterone are made primarily from DHEA released by the adrenal glands.
- Testosterone helps maintain muscle mass and bone, improves sense of well-being and sex drive.
Why do we use saliva to test hormones?
- Saliva testing measures the free, biologically active hormone levels - hormones that actually make it into tissue, because hormones pass through saliva gland tissue before getting into saliva.
- Saliva hormone testing offers fast, reliable and accurate way of assessing hormone levels, The simplicity of saliva collection in the home makes it ideal for mapping out hormone levels over a complete menstrual cycle.
- It is impractical to collect blood every three days to map out estradiol and progesterone over a complete menstrual cycle, nor could an average for testosterone, cortisol and DHEAS be provided.
- The stress of a needle puncture for blood collection tends to raise cortisol levels.
What do the results mean?
Low estradiol may be corrected by supplementing with estradiol, although nutritional supplements are generally preferable in pre-menopausal women. For example, phytoestrogens may provide relief from symptoms of low estrogen.
High estradiol occurs when too much is produced or when estradiol is not efficiently eliminated. An enzyme in fat cells promotes the formation of estrogens from adrenal hormones, so weight loss often reduces estrogen levels. It is important to make sure there is enough progesterone to balance the effects of high estradiol.
Low progesterone can be corrected by supplementing with natural progesterone, which is generally very safe and effective. The herb chasteberry may also help normalize progesterone levels. Sometimes low progesterone is associated with low thyroid hormone levels, therefore lab tests for thyroid function may be recommended.
High progesterone when progesterone is not being supplemented is rarely a concern.
Low testosterone symptoms can sometimes be resolved by adding progesterone or correcting adrenal issues. However, supplementation with testosterone may be necessary in some cases.
High testosterone is associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome and insulin resistance. Further testing or treatment may be necessary.
Low cortisol strongly suggests adrenal issues, which may require further testing or interventions by your healthcare professional.
High cortisol levels are associated with conditions including: bone loss, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, weight gain, memory impairment, immune system suppression, and interfering with the action of other hormones. Lifestyle changes as well as supplements may be recommended.
Low DHEAS does not have well-defined signs and symptoms, although low DHEAS is often associated with chronic illness.
High DHEAS is associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome and insulin resistance. Further testing or treatment may be necessary.