The first question I most often get asked is ‘should I get my hormone levels tested?’

Every woman wants to know what her hormone levels are understandably because they are suffering from a range of widespread and diffuse symptoms that are often difficult to link to a particular condition.

The fact is hormonal imbalances are very difficult to diagnose. For example endometriosis often takes on average 8 doctors to diagnose the condition despite it affecting up to 20% of reproductive age women. Polycystic ovarian syndrome has similar un-success rates of diagnosis. When it comes to the mental and emotional symptoms associated with hormonal imbalances you can basically forget about a diagnosis apart from depression and be prescribed accordingly.

To be honest the current medical model for diagnosis of hormonal conditions is about as effective as the treatments. So where does that leave women interested in getting some sort of diagnosis for how they are feeling?

Basically there are 3 main ways to get a diagnosis separate from a physical examination or procedure such as ultrasound or laparoscopy. These are blood hormone levels, saliva hormone levels or symptom profiling. Usually it takes a combination of all of these methods to accurately diagnose a condition or syndrome.

Hormone Blood Testing

Lets first look at hormone blood testing. This is the first point of reference your GP will often refer to and for certain ages such as menopause and peri-menopause it can be indicative of the process your body is going through. Typically the tests ordered are;

  • oestrogen
  • progesterone
  • luteinizing and
  • follicle stimulating hormone
  • testosterone
  • cortisol
  • DHEA
  • prolactin levels may be measured. In the case of PCOS blood sugar levels will also be looked at.

Now the major draw back for blood hormone testing, and the same to an extent with saliva hormone testing is hormones are in a constant state of flux. There is no baseline. Hormones change hourly, daily, monthly and even seasonally and are affected by a range of cycles with the body and external to the body, even the moon and other women. For example;

  • women will often synch menstrually when they spend a lot of time together
  • when a women is in love or not will change fertility and hormone levels
  • when a women is training for a exercise event or
  • preparing for a large project at work will change her hormone levels
  • If she is stressed or on holidays it will change her levels
  • If she is eating well or bingeing on sugar it will change her levels
  • If she is working night shift or day shift it will change her levels
  • If she has food allergies or not
  • If her liver is metabolising hormones well
  • If her digestion is excreting hormones efficiently
  • If she is drinking alcohol or not
  • If she is sleeping well or not
  • If she is sexually active or not

And the list of influences is almost inexhaustible depending on what is happening in a women’s life, her age, her size and her diet and lifestyle. So one size does not fit all and one size does not even fit one women. What is normal for one lady is not normal for another. So you get the idea.

Saliva Hormone Profiling

Saliva hormone testing has taken an element of this away by taking daily or every second day testing along with time of day samples to measure hormone levels. This gives a better reference range against the time of month and day as well as the capacity to check hormone ratios which can be more accurate.  Rather than just checking levels against ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ hormone levels. Typically saliva hormone testing is more expensive and obviously more time consuming to get the samples taken.

Hormone Symptom Profiling

Finally comes hormone symptom profiling and this is our preferred method of screening for hormonal imbalances. Obviously it does not replace physical evidence of hormonal tissue changes in the body such as fibroids or endometrial overgrowth.  However as an initial point of screening, symptom profiling is a better guide to the type of hormonal imbalance and more importantly the severity of the imbalance.

When a wide range of hormonal related symptoms are analysed in a woman then a pattern starts to emerge and for women to see that the wide range of symptoms they are suffering from are hormonal linked, it can be the confirmation they where looking for to start a treatment program.

Often many seemingly unrelated symptoms can be grouped together to indicate the imbalance. Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a good example of how symptoms can link a condition together. Symptom profiling is also an excellent way to get a measurement of mental and emotional symptoms and the severity of these symptoms because there are not physical testing methods that can demonstrate whether a lady is clinically depressed or they may be suffering from depression linked to hormonal fluctuations.

When mental and emotional symptoms are linked with physical signs of hormonal imbalance and exacerbated premenstrually then there is a common link which can be used for treatment.

Hormone prescribing

Another important point to make here is that when a certain hormone is found to be either excessive or deficient the first point of treatment is to replace the deficient hormone whether it is progesterone, testosterone, dhea or oestrogen. As we know hormones shift literally every hour so to get the prescription correct is incredible difficult. And the prescription needs to change daily to recreate the ideal balanced hormonal levels. So its nearly impossible to be accurate. Then when you prescribe a hormone which may be deficient you effectively tell the body to further stop production of that hormone, which of course only contributes to the underlying pathology.

In time a larger endocrine imbalance ensures due to the fact that every hormone and endocrine gland such as the ovaries, pancreas, adrenals, thymus, thyroid, hypothalamus, pituitary and pineal gland are intimately interconnected. This is why the thyroid gland often is involved and women find it hard to lose weight, feel fatigued, cant sleep and hormonal changes continue. Of course all the mood swings, irritability and emotional outburst continue to get worse because these where never really considered as a part of the overall imbalance.

The Solution

This is where we often find women cross the path of Happy Hormones and are desperately looking for a solution to their mismanaged hormonal health issues. And the first question is……’should I get my hormone levels tested’. That is when we start the educational journey towards understanding its not about your hormone levels actually, its about your control centres and how you metabolise hormones. Not the hormones themselves.

So instead of a saliva or blood test we first recommend our simple hormonal symptom profile to highlight the symptoms that are linked to hormonal imbalances and the severity of the imbalance. This gives a starting point and often the confirmation that the symptoms are linked to hormonal imbalance. We must state however if there is a physical tissue overgrowth such as fibroids, cysts or endometrial overgrowth then it must be diagnosed through physical identification for confirmation.

Second we recommend a crash course in how the condition was created in the first place via our ebook that explains the pathogenesis of hormonal imbalances. Knowledge is power and allows you to start to take back control for your own health.

Then finally our 8 week program which details the dietary and lifestyle changes that need to take place for a long term solution start the healing process. Create the environment in your body through diet and lifestyle where the endocrine system can regulate itself and then apply specific herbal medicines such as the Happy Hormones formula to act as a catalyst to signal the endocrine system to balance.

This is the path towards heath and balance again and it has been proven successful thousands of times. No just merely suppression of symptoms that leads to further development of ill health and unfortunately unhappiness. Take back control of your own health and trust what your body is telling you.

About Jeff Butterworth:

Jeff Butterworth B.App. Sc, N.D is a Naturopath with over 20 years experience specialising in treating hormonal disorders. Jeff developed the Happy Hormones program after discovering a unique way of treating hormonal disorders - by focusing on endocrine balance rather than hormonal levels - which gives long-lasting and dramatic results.