The hormone test you want to ask your doctor for
“Is there a test I can take to know how long I can wait to have children?”
“How do I know if I am approaching menopause?”
These are 2 common questions I get from women approaching their mid to late 30s and early 40s. It is a key transition time in their lives when they start experiencing changes in the frequency of their periods, having symptoms they’ve never had before or thinking more seriously about how long they have to make a decision to have kids.
I had the same exact questions a few years ago when my periods became irregular, had difficult physical and emotional symptoms and started asking myself more truly whether I wanted (or could for that matter!) have children. I wish someone had advised me back then, in a very simple way, how I could find answers to my questions and which tests I should ask my doctor or OBGYN for. Read my story.
Knowledge is power, and I want you to be as knowledgeable and powerful as you can during your next doctor appointment. Getting your hormones tested is eye-opening and a smart way to know if they are behaving as they should and how balanced – or not! – they are.
Ask the right questions, get the right tests done, and make smart, informed decisions on what to do next. Let doctors and other health practitioners advise you but be the one to make the final decision. You go, girl!
These are my 3 recommended steps to own the process:
1. Ask for a Female Hormone Panel.
This test measures your key sex hormones. I like to look at them in sets of 2:
- FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone), the 2 hormones that stimulate ovulation. As you approach menopause, FSH and LH surge to their highest levels ever and become erratic until you officially reach menopause (you haven't had any periods for a full year). READ: GOT HOT FLASHES? THIS IS HOW MY CLIENT ENDED THEM IN 21 DAYS
- Estrogen and progesterone, the hormones responsible for preparing the lining of the uterus for implantation and growth of the embryo.
Contrary to the standard belief, estrogen remains stable or even increases during perimenopause and doesn’t fade until less than a year before the last period. This is super important to know before making a decision to take hormone therapy and add more estrogen to your body. An excess of estrogen (or estrogen dominance) is linked to increased risk of breast cancer, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, infertility, PCOS and other women health related issues. READ: IS ENDOMETRIOSIS DICTATING YOUR LIFE?
Estradiol – one of the 3 types of estrogen – is the one that does decrease as you approach menopause and a much better indication of your fertility levels.
Last but not least, progesterone, usually overlooked, falls during perimenopause, often long before changes in estrogen and testosterone.
You can take a blood or saliva test. Each approach has its pros and cons, and blood testing is the option most frequently chosen. Why? Because you can make it part of your next routine primary care doctor or OBGYN visit and is covered by most medical insurance plans.
Saliva tests can be more accurate because they allow you to test your hormones at different times during the day to account for variability and they measure tissue, where hormones have a big effect. However, they're usually not covered by insurance and your doctor may not be able to interpret them as well as blood tests.
2. Take the test in the next few days after your period has ended.
This time of the cycle month is called the follicular phase, and it is the best time to test these hormones. If your period is erratic and you don’t know when you’ll have it next, follow your instinct and schedule your visit when you see fit.
3. Look at the results holistically.
Hormones don’t work in isolation. Instead, they balance each other out to create a healthy environment that allows your body to function at its best. Here is when looking at the ratio between hormones, in addition to whether they fall or not within the standard normal ranges, becomes critical.
An example - your estrogen and progesterone levels could look great because they fall within the normal ranges but if your estrogen is on the high side of the normal range and your progesterone is on the low side, the big gap between the two can cause some trouble.
Get a copy of your results, look at the actual numbers, and ask your doctor about the potential risks of big gaps or ratios between hormone levels.
An additional tip - most doctors test your thyroid, testosterone, vitamin D and blood sugar levels as part of their lab work but it doesn’t hurt to ask and make sure yours does too. Don’t be afraid of asking questions or requesting specific hormones to be tested. Remember you’re the client!
What to do next? Once you have the results in your hands and better understand what they mean, listen to your doctor’s recommendations (which will most likely be hormone therapy or meds if she/he’s seeing an imbalance) but don’t make a decision right away.
Take the time to consider other more natural healing approaches. Positive changes in your diet and lifestyle can work wonders to restore the balance, energy and focus you want and need without having to succumb to drugs.
WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR HORMONAL BALANCE NATURALLY?