Not all types of hormone tests are created equally. Maybe you’ve gone through menopause, or just feel like hormones are “off”. So, you go and have your blood drawn, or you spit into a tube a few times (the most trendy option we see). Results come back and… well, that’s not how you thought your results would look. You take the recommendations and don’t feel any better, or maybe even feel worse. We see this same song and dance all the time.
When it comes to testing sex hormones, the type of testing matters! Before I explain why, let’s back up to remind ourselves how female hormones come to be. I think for the most part, everyone knows that women’s hormones fluctuate throughout their cycle. But did you know that even from hour to hour our hormone production will change as well?
As much as we would like it to be, hormone production is not like a garden hose that you turn on and get a nice steady stream of water all day long. Instead, imagine your toddler or obnoxious neighbor standing at the valve and messing with it all the time. You’re trying to water the grass and they think it’s hilarious to put the hose on full blast, then kink it off, then give you a nice steady stream, then repeat the process all over again. Your hormone production throughout the day is the same way!
Hormones, especially female hormones, are controlled by PULSES of other hormones in the brain all day long. These pulses can be affected by anything from stressors to endocrine disruptors to genetic SNP’s. There’s a lot at play!
So, if you take a blood sample or saliva sample and attempt to measure sex hormones, you are going to get a reading of only that very specific moment in time. If we measure you a couple hours later, it could be vastly different. So how can we know that it truly represents your overall hormone production? (Now, I should say–there are a few select hormones that can be measured fairly accurately via blood, and cortisol samples from saliva are also okay.) Not only that, but these samples don’t tell us what happens next–which pathways your body prefers for hormone metabolism, methylation efficiency, etc. All of these things differ from person to person and can also impact symptoms, no matter what your hormone values show.
When it comes to hormone testing, URINE is the gold standard! (See what I did there? 😉) By using urine, we can capture hormones that have been produced over several hours. This gives us a more comprehensive look at what those pulses are actually producing throughout the day.
Additionally, urine allows us to see what is happening to those hormones. Are you breaking them down in a way that puts you at increased risk for cancer? Are you methylating so slowly that any sort of treatment plan will go awry? Do you have acne because you are pumping out estrogen or because your testosterone is preferring a certain pathway? All of this can be determined with a little urine!
At NFM, we’re currently using the DUTCH test. Depending on your symptoms or needs, we can do a one-day at home test or track your hormone production throughout the month!
If you’re concerned about hormones, no matter your age, DUTCH testing is the way to go.
Men, we have a comprehensive DUTCH test for you as well! If your provider isn’t familiar with the DUTCH test, find someone who does. If you or your provider have never read a DUTCH before, interpreting the test can be a little bit like trying to read a chemistry report… upside down… in another language.
Luckily, we’re here for you and we’re well-versed in hormone testing, interpretation, and treatment protocols. Functional hormone experts predict that the standard of care will someday be performing a DUTCH test on every female every 10 years at the least! Don’t waste time waiting for things to get worse, waiting for your current provider to catch up on the science, or with treatment plans that assume we’re all the same–you’re worth more than that!