The Why, When and How of Testing your Hormones
Why and When
Testing takes out the guess work when it comes to hormones.  Since I started testing hormones, I have found that often the results are not what you would expect.  Natural treatment for hormonal dysfunction can be powerful and is quite specific.  It is important to get it right. 
When we test sex hormones we do not just test on any given day.  We test mid luteal phase.  This is due to the fact that we only make progesterone during the days following ovulation. The 10-14 days before your period or your luteal phase. We want to see your progesterone levels when they are at their highest.  This is  halfway through your luteal phase or 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 21 day cycle we would test on day 14, 28 day cycle we would test on day 21 and 35 day cycle we would test on day 28.  If your cycle is not regular then we would either test 5-7 days after ovulation or look into the DUTCH cycle mapping test below. 

When we are testing cortisol and stress hormones, we want to look at the pattern throughout the day, not just a single sample. So before we even get started with testing your hormones it is a good idea to start tracking your cycle.  You can get a free Basal Body Temperature chart in my Free E-Book – Is it your thyroid by signing up to my email list here.  While the book is focused on thyroid conditions (these can also effect your cycle) the chart is handy and provides a lot of information including if you are ovulating and when.  Not everyone is going to be a candidate for hormone testing.  I generally do not do the tests below on any Women who is on hormonal birth control or post Menopausal, there are also some instances when we will get nutrition right before testing.  You can book a free call with me (10 mins) to chat to me about your situation or email me julie@nurturenutrition.co.nz to discuss.

How
Saliva Testing
The benefits of saliva testing is that saliva represents the hormones that are actively delivered to the receptors in the body, rather then free hormones in the serum (blood).  Steroid hormones detected in the serum 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.  Cortisol can also not be accurately measured in serum.

I offer saliva hormone testing which is a simple and non invasive test, easily performed in the comfort of your own home.  Saliva testing generally requires you to spit into a test tube first thing in the morning and freeze until you are ready to send back to my supplier who sends it on to the lab in the US (Labrix).  Labrix only requires 1 ml of saliva per sample. There are also options for testing throughout the day (cortisol patterns).  Saliva testing is very cost effective (from a functional testing perspective) prices range from around  $25.00 for a single hormone up to around $180 for a full comprehensive panel testing 3 different estrogens, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and cortisol x 4 (4 samples at different times of the day/night).

DUTCH test
DUTCH is an acronym for Dried, Urine, Test for Comprehensive Hormones.  This is another test that I offer and the most comprehensive.  There are a few different versions of the DUTCH test available, all are provided by Precision Analytical in the states.  DUTCH is regarded by practitioners as the most advanced test for sex and adrenal hormones.  The samples are easy to collect in the comfort of your own home (4 dried urine samples collected on filter paper).

The test is so comprehensive as not only are hormone levels measured, but their metabolites.  The absolute level of your hormones matter – but what can matter more is what your body does with those hormones i.e how they are being metabolised.  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.

It is a simple test to complete, but gives unrivaled information.  By having this information, we can get very specific with treatment and get results much quicker.  The tests provide info on hormone levels, metabolism of cortisol, metabolism of progesterone, testosterone and estrogen.  The dinural pattern of free cortisol.  Like the saliva test the DUTCH test gives us not only the total levels of cortisol and cortisone, but also the curve – how those levels change over the day. This is some valuable information for people who are struggling with stress, fatigue, anxiety, decreased libido, trouble sleeping and insomnia. The DUTCH test also looks at melatonin.  

The options include – DUTCH complete ,DUTCH adrenal, DUTCH cycle mapping and cycle mapping plus.

The prices for DUTCH testing ranges from around $209 to $555.00.  The best way to know what test will be best for you is to have a full consultation.  During the consultation I can look at all of the factors contributing to your presenting complaint and make recommendations.  Not only will you get a recommendation on what test will be best, you will also get a full holistic treatment plan and supporting information to get you started on your way to balanced menstrual cycles.  You will receive a prescription for any practitioner only supplements needed to get you results faster. 

It takes 100 days to really see results with hormonal dysfunction.  This is due to the fact that it takes 100 days for ovarian follicles (eggs) to journey all the way to maturity and for you to ovulate.  Please bear this in mind when working toward hormonal balance.  It will take 100 days of being healthy and fully nourished to achieve healthy ovulation and consequently healthy hormonal levels.