Image shows title of blog Hormone testing 101

Hormone Testing

Are you struggling with PMS, mood swings, sore breasts, fatigue, anxiety, stress, acne, decreased libido or insomnia?  Are you ready to get to the root of the issue so you can have the quality of life you deserve?  You are in the right place! 

Why test your hormones?

Testing takes out the guess work when it comes to hormones.  Since I started testing hormones, I have found that the results are not always what you would expect from the symptoms.  Natural treatment for hormonal dysfunction can be powerful and is quite specific so important to get right. 

What hormone tests do you offer?

I use the DUTCH test (dried urine) and Saliva testing.  Most GP’s and Labs in NZ use blood testing.  I use offshore labs via my local suppliers so I can get the gold standard hormone tests.  You can read more below about why I rate these over blood tests.  Both saliva and urine are done in the comfort of your own home with a test kit and are non invasive.

What are the benefits of saliva or urine over blood?

There are many benefits to testing saliva and urine over blood.  For saliva, the main benefit is that saliva represents the hormones that are actively being delivered to the receptors in the body.  Hormones in the blood are bound to proteins and in this state they are unable to fit into receptors in the body, and will not be delivered to tissues.  They reflect the current reserves of hormones, rather then the current active hormones. 

With urine testing, you get the same benefits as saliva plus (a big plus which I will explain further below) you also get info on metabolites.

Stress plays such a big part in hormone problems too so I often like to test cortisol (normally done at multiple periods over 24 hours to see the pattern). Cortisol can not be accurately measured in blood.  

Who is testing for?

I offer hormone testing for menstruating Women, not on hormonal birth control.  I will always do an assessment (either with a Health & Hormone Audit or via one of my consultation packages) initially before making any test recommendations.  As with all testing I will only recommend it if the results will change the treatment plan.  Testing will also provide a baseline to track progress.

When to Test?

When we test sex hormones like progesterone and estrogen, we do not just test on a random day.  We test mid luteal phase – the week before your period.  This is because we only make progesterone the days following ovulation and we want to test when progesterone is at its highest 5-7 days after ovulation and 5-7 days before your period. 

This is easy if your cycles are regular.  For example if you have a 28 day cycle we would test on day 21 and 35 day cycle we would test on day 28. 

What if my cycles are not regular?

If your cycle is not regular then we would either test 5-7 days after ovulation (which you would determine by symptoms like temperature increase) or if you have zero idea there are still options like the DUTCH cycle mapping test which will map out and test your whole cycle to see what is happening. 

What if my symptoms are normal for my age i.e in Perimenopause?

This is exactly why I have created the Health & Hormone audit.  The audit is a good place to start if you are unsure whether your symptoms are due to a hormone imbalance or a normal shift like  perimenopause for example. Either way you will get some tools to help with whatever those symptoms are as many can be successfully alleviated naturally while you go through the transition to menopause.

I will always go through all of your symptoms and explain what is considered normal for your age and stage first to make sure it is worthwhile testing.  Remember I won’t bother recommending testing if it wouldn’t not change your treatment suggestions.

Saliva Testing

I offer saliva testing as it is reliable, easy and cost effective.  The price depends on how many hormones you test and prices range from around $25.00 for a single hormone up to around $190 for a full comprehensive panel which would include estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and cortisol x 4 (4 samples at different times of the day/night).  Prices are correct at time of writing.  You will be provided with the exact cost for your recommended tests on your audit report or treatment plan when we work together.

How to take the test

Saliva testing generally requires you to spit into a test tube first thing in the morning (for sex hormones or throughout the day for cortisol) and freeze until you are ready to return the sample.  Simple as that.  The test kit you will receive from my local supplier will have info on when to return the samples and further instructions.  The kit will include the cold packs etc required to return the samples on the correct day so it can be sent abroad. You only need 1ml of saliva so the tests are very sensitive.  

DUTCH test

While saliva testing is generally better than blood testing, DUTCH is the gold standard. DUTCH is an acronym for Dried, Urine, Test for Comprehensive Hormones.  Not only will this test tell you your hormone levels but their metabolites.  What this means is that you can find out what your body does with those hormones.

Some examples of what I mean:

Does your body turn testosterone into nasty acne-promoting 5a-DHT?

Does your body turn estradiol into DNA damaging 4-OH estrone?  

Are you healthfully metabolising and eliminating estrogen from your body?

The DUTCH test can tell you.

There are a few different versions of the DUTCH test available and it is regarded by practitioners as the most advanced test for sex and adrenal hormones. 

How do you take a DUTCH test?

The samples are easy to collect in the comfort of your own home, a standard test requires 4 dried urine samples collected on filter paper. If you chose a test that includes adrenal hormones they are measured in saliva so you would provide dried urine and saliva samples.

DUTCH test details:

There are a range of different DUTCH test options depending on hormones tested.  I would give you a recommendation and pricing on your audit report or treatment plan after our consultation.

The prices for DUTCH tests start at $280.

The Results and how to get started

With the information we gather from testing, combined with your symptom picture and health history we can get very specific with your treatment plan and get you results much quicker. 

You can get started with a personal test recommendation and supportive plan by booking either a health & hormone audit or jumping straight into a consultation package. Both options not only provide test recommendations but you will also get nutrition, lifestyle and supplement recommendations to get started right away while we wait for your results.

My recommendation if you know you want your hormones tested, is to go straight into a package as test results require training and expertise to interpret so you will need a follow up appointment to go through your results and tweak your plan.   Then another follow up a month later ensures we are on track with treatment and you are starting to get results.

Remember it’s 100 days to ovulation so 100 days to really see results with hormonal dysfunction.  This is why I offer packages rather than stand alone appointments.  I want to make sure you are getting the best results.  I offer payment plans on all packages and you can read more here. 

I hope you have found this helpful and it has answered your questions, please feel free to email me if you have any that I have not answered

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Julie McGill

Perimenopausal mother to 4 and holistic clinical nutritionist helping women thrive through perimenopause, naturally.

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Image of Julie McGill Holistic Nutritionist
Hi, I'm Julie

I help Women thrive through perimenopause, naturally.  I’m a qualified & holistic clinical nutritionist, mum to 4 and also navigating my way through second puberty.

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