Common Female Hormone Conditions
Interactions between the five hormones of the female panel (estrogens, progesterone, cortisol, DHEA’s and testosterone) are fundamental to health and hormone imbalances may negatively impact health. Below are examples of how hormone imbalances may impact health:
High levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, can cause unstable blood sugars and may increase sugar cravings. High estrogen levels may interfere with thyroid gland function and result in weight gain. High levels of testosterone and/or DHEAs may be associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome, a condition that makes weight loss very difficult.
Our laboratory data shows that 2/3 of women who self-report depression or difficulty coping and 7/10 who report irritability have at least one hormone that is out of range. While there is no guarantee that restoring hormone balance will lessen these mood symptoms, many women experience some relief from mood disorders when their hormones are balanced.
High or low levels of cortisol may affect sleep, as may low levels of estradiol. For some postmenopausal women, difficulty sleeping is directly related to hot flashes and night sweats, which are often signs of hormone imbalance. Once hormone imbalances are addressed, sleep issues may resolve.
Having too little estrogen can be associated with hot flashes, but so can supplementing with too much estrogen! Maintaining the right amount of estrogen is at least one factor in controlling hot flashes.
Testosterone and estradiol help build bone, while high cortisol tends to break down bone. High cortisol is of particular concern because it breaks down bone and interferes with the bone building action of testosterone!
A common pattern of hormone imbalance shows up in women with breast cancer: above range estradiol, below range progesterone, above range evening cortisol and out of range DHEAs. The Estrogen Metabolism Ratio urine test and the Melatonin Cortisol Index can also give some insights into breast cancer risk.
Why Test Saliva Hormones?
- Saliva hormone testing is excellent at uncovering hormone imbalance.
- Saliva measures hormone that has actually made it into tissue, because hormones pass through saliva gland tissue before entering saliva. Blood measures hormones that may or may not get to tissue.
- Saliva collection is painless and easy to do at home. Blood collection requires a trip to the laboratory, and some hormones cannot be tested in blood (e.g. estriol).
- The stress of a needle puncture for blood collection tends to raise cortisol levels. Saliva collection is not known to raise cortisol levels.
Talk to your health care provider about getting a saliva hormone test done.
**Description courtesy of Rocky Mountain Analytical