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HORMONE THERAPY

Saliva Testing vs. Blood Testing for Hormone Levels: Which is Better?

Have you ever said in a moment of moodiness, “I think my hormones are out of whack!”?

Did you consider that you might be right on the money? Fatigue, weight gain, anxiety, moodiness – these can all be signs of a hormonal imbalance. A simple blood or saliva test in a doctor’s office can check your hormone levels and find out if lows or highs are responsible for your ongoing health concerns. But which is more accurate? Blood testing or saliva testing?

What are Hormones?

Hormones are chemicals secreted by glands and transported by the bloodstream throughout the body. Each hormone has its own purpose, organs and systems to regulate and manage. When one of your hormone levels is off-kilter, too high or too low, it can throw the whole body out of whack.

What is a Hormonal Imbalance?

When the body produces too much or too little of any one of the many hormones that manage our organs and systems, it can cause an imbalance. Because hormones often work together, too little of one can result in too much of another, creating a cycle of imbalance.

What can Cause Imbalanced Hormone Levels?

Physical issues, such as cysts, PCOStumors or illness, can cause hormonal imbalance. Hormones are also significantly affected by lifestyle factors such as stress, lack of sleep or poor diet. Self-care is essential to the production and function of hormones and the organs and systems they manage. 

What are the Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance?

Because hormones regulate every system in the body, the symptoms of a hormonal imbalance can vary greatly. Common symptoms for various imbalances include fatigue, weight gain or loss, anxiety or depression, skin conditions and mood swings.

Saliva Testing for Hormone Levels

In the body, almost all hormones circulating in the bloodstream are bound to carrier proteins. Unlike blood-based tests, saliva diagnostics can measure the amount of free, unbound hormones that are available to act in the body. Salivary concentrations represent the hormone levels that are most likely to impact the body. By measuring these levels, providers can determine which hormones are available and present in excess and where there may be a deficiency. 

How is a Saliva Hormone Test Performed?

Saliva tests for hormone levels are non-invasive and stress-free. A patient simply spits into a sterile test tube which is sent to a lab for analysis. Saliva sampling must be done correctly, but today's collection devices make it easy, and patients can collect samples during the day or night as needed to establish an accurate baseline and measure changes in hormones throughout the day or throughout the month.

What can it tell us?

Hormones in the bloodstream that are now bound to protein are filtered through the salivary glands and enter saliva. Saliva testing accurately measures the hormones that are "bioavailable" to organs and tissues. If these active levels are too high or too low, it may be the cause behind health issues such as irregular periods, weight gain, fatigue and many others.

Blood Testing for Hormone Levels

A blood test for hormone levels measures the hormones present in the liquid part of the blood known as the plasma, or serum.

How is a Blood Test for Hormones Performed?

For serum/plasma tests, blood is most commonly drawn from a vein in the arm. The sample is then sent to a lab for analysis.

What can it tell us?

While the blood test measures hormone levels, it can only detect the hormones in the blood serum. These hormones are bound to protein and are not free to affect other organs and systems in the body. It’s not a reliable picture of how much of the body’s hormones are available, unbound and ready for delivery and use by tissues and organs.

Each method of blood and saliva hormone testing can provide valuable information, but because the information is different for each method, a physician will determine the best testing method after considering a patient's medical and family history and the results of a physical exam.

Hormone testing may often require baseline measurements as well as periodic tests to monitor a particular condition or adjust therapeutic dosing.

If you are experiencing the symptoms of a hormonal imbalance, there’s an easy way to find out if your hormones are to blame! Schedule your consultation with the expert team at Coyle Institute and we’ll track down the cause of your hormonal issues through a saliva test, then work with you to get the care and treatment you need to feel like yourself again!