Do you think your hormones are out of sync? You suspect you have a hormonal imbalance but want to know for sure. (1) You're not alone. Many men and women visit doctors saying the same thing— I need my hormones checked. Yet, visiting your doctor may not be possible or covered by insurance.
Meanwhile, you're having trouble sleeping, feeling lethargic, and even depressed. Your sex drive has plummeted, and losing weight is impossible. You believe it's hormone-related and ask, how do you check your hormone levels at home? In this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know about in-home hormone tests so that you can know for sure.
A hormone test can use blood, urine, or saliva to measure critical hormones, whether it's at the doctor's office or in the privacy of your own home. If you decide to test your hormones at home, you'll order a home testing kit.
The most common type of home test is a blood test. At home, you'll usually prick your finger, rather than take a vial of blood. Your hormone test kit may include a saliva test, too. Depending on the test kit, you'll spit saliva into a test tube. Afterward, you send blood or saliva sample to a certified laboratory.
A hormone home testing kit can test for a wide range of hormones. Depending on the type of test and your personal needs, you can check for one or more of the following:
Estrogens are female sex hormones created in the ovaries and adrenal glands. Estrogen is primarily responsible for regulating menstruation and reproductivity. It also helps build healthy bones and regulates metabolism. Estrogen creams are an effective treatment for boosting estrogen. (2)
Another female sex hormone is progesterone. It works with estrogen to control a woman's cycle and fertility. When levels of estrogen and progesterone are out of balance, it can cause a wide range of side effects.
Men do produce small amounts of estrogen and progesterone, but the primary male sex hormone is testosterone. It's generated in the testes and adrenal glands. Testosterone is responsible for what is considered "male" characteristics, such as stronger muscles, deeper voice, and facial hair. It also helps regulate metabolism and male fertility.
FSH is an important hormone used to help a woman produce an egg each month. As FSH increases in the bloodstream, an egg swells and then released into the fallopian tubes for possible fertilization.
Like FSH, luteinizing hormone stimulates the ovaries to help produce an egg each month. When levels of FSH or luteinizing hormones are low, it can indicate a low ovarian reserve and fertility issues. Luteinizing hormone is also the precursor to testosterone and helps build sperm. (3)
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) helps build other hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone. When your DHEA levels are low, other hormones can be, too. DHEA levels decrease as you age, but sometimes you need a DHEA cream to boost levels naturally. (4)
Cortisol is the stress hormone that helps you fight off stress. It's normal to experience high cortisol levels at certain moments. Still, if levels are high for long periods, it can result in insomnia, weight gain, and even anxiety and depression.
On your throat is a small gland called the thyroid. It produces thyroid-stimulating hormones to help your body convert food into energy. It helps regulate body temperature, weight, and muscle strength. (5)
Home hormone tests include everything that you need to take the test, including:
The exact contents of your hormone kit may change depending on where you ordered it from and what tests you're having done.
Getting the results back from your hormone test can take anywhere from 2-5 days to a few weeks. The exact time frame depends on the company’s guidelines.
When you check your hormone levels at home, there are minimal to no risk factors. Saliva testing is a non-invasive test that's convenient to complete. Pricking your finger for droplets of blood poses few risks as well.
The results will measure the specified hormones to show you whether or not the amount is low, average, or high. Usually, the company administering the test doesn't give you advice on how to interpret the hormones, but instead gives you a range of what’s normal to abnormal and places your results within that range. Afterward, you should follow up with a doctor to analyze the results.
Most people who take an in-home hormone test believe they have a hormonal imbalance. Common hormonal imbalances include estrogen, progesterone, DHEA, and testosterone. If you’ve been diagnosed with a hormonal imbalance, you can monitor your levels with a home testing kit. (6)
Treating hormonal imbalances varies by individual and health concerns. You can treat hormonal imbalances through diet, exercise, and hormone supplementation. Bioidentical hormone therapy (BH) with estrogen, progesterone, and DHEA is another option. BHT replaces the missing hormones with natural ones to provide balance.
If you're suffering from a hormonal imbalance, checking your hormones at home can provide you with quick results and peace of mind. However, once you've received the results, it's best to follow up with a doctor to determine the best treatment plan for you.
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