Due to the many serious illnesses that may arise from hormonal imbalance, it’s a must that you get your hormones checked. Luckily, you can always keep a hormone testing kit at home — and yes, these kits offer accuracy, affordability, and convenience.
But What Are Hormones?
Your body’s endocrine glands produce chemical messengers called hormones, which travel through your blood vessels to different parts of your body. Hormones play various roles in:
- Keeping your reproductive system healthy
- Making sure that your mood stays in check
- Aiding in your growth and development as you age
- Maintaining normal body temperature
- Getting energy from the food you eat
Knowing the major types of hormones (including the steroid hormones) is important to correctly identify the tests you need when checking for hormonal imbalance.
Estrogen, otherwise known as estradiol, is the main sex hormone for women. This female hormone triggers the onset of puberty (including the development of secondary sex characteristics) and regulates the menstrual cycle.
Too much oestrogen can cause fatigue, weight gain, and loss of sex drive, while too little of it can cause headaches, depression, and irregular periods. Its absence can also increase cardiometabolic risk.
The main sex hormone in men, testosterone, is likewise responsible for all the male-specific changes during puberty. Having too little testosterone leads to signs and symptoms like erectile dysfunction, drop in sperm count, increase in body fat, and frail bones.
A testosterone test kit is a great tool if you wish to find out whether the hormone is within normal range.
Progesterone is a naturally occurring hormone with the main function of regulating the lining of the uterus (called endometrium) as preparation for menstruation or pregnancy. Possible red flags for low progesterone levels include irregular periods, abdominal pain, and unusual uterine bleeding.
Cortisol is produced in the adrenal glands. It’s mainly in charge of your body’s response to stress, but it does serve other important functions like regulating blood pressure and controlling protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism.
High cortisol levels is an indication of Cushing’s syndrome with symptoms like fatigue, high blood sugar, obesity, and reduced muscle strength. On the other hand, deficiency in cortisol may cause Addison's disease.
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
DHEA, another example of adrenal hormones, is present in both men and women and can be converted into testosterone or estrogen.
The levels of DHEA in your blood needs to be checked to see if your adrenal gland is functioning. DHEA may also help in diagnosing tumors.
- Follicle-stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
FSH and LH are essential for reproduction. Testing for these hormones might be needed if you’re worried about having fertility issues or pituitary gland problems (an LH surge, for example, is associated with polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS).
Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas and its primary job is to regulate the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. Lack of insulin may cause diabetes.
- Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1)
IGF-1 is an anabolic hormone produced in the liver with the help of the growth hormone (GH). It stimulates active growth, reproduction, and regeneration of cells.
Know About Your Choices
There’s a multitude of hormone testing kits available and sometimes it gets difficult to decide which to use. To help you out, we’ve listed down the common types of hormone tests that can be done at home.
- 1. Saliva Testing
By far the most popular and reliable medium of measuring your hormone levels, a saliva test is a non-invasive technique where you only need to put your saliva sample into a tube. Morning is the optimal time to do this as hormone levels peak as soon as you wake up.
HealthConfirm’s Hormone Vitality Test Plus is a good example of easy-to-use saliva tests. It provides insights on five kinds of salivary hormone, namely progesterone, DHEA-S, estradiol, testosterone, and cortisol.
You’ll get your results within a few days after sending the samples to the laboratory. You will also receive a detailed review (sent to your email) at no extra cost.
(Note that these feature are common among quality saliva hormone testing kits.)
- 2. Urine Testing
Urine test kits will generally require you to collect a sample of your urine and refrigerate it for 24 hours. Remember that, to achieve the most accurate results, you’ll have to get the sample in morning.
Likewise, keep in mind that the urine test’s accuracy can be affected by the food you eat, how stressed you are, and whether you smoke.
- 3. Blood Testing
Blood tests involve inserting a needle into a vein in your arm to get the necessary readings. For testosterone levels, the normal range is 280 to 1,100 nanograms/deciliter (ng/dL) for men and 15-70 ng/dL for women.
Depending on the kit you used, the results may also provide information on other hormones. If anything far exceeds the proper range, don’t think twice about checking with your doctor—you might need a bio-identical hormone.
Getting the Right Balance
If your results aren’t really outside the normal range but are a bit too close for comfort, you might want to adopt some dietary and lifestyle changes. Take care of your body and your hormone levels by following these steps:
- Avoid Sugary Foods
Consumption of sugar-rich foods and beverages can cause insulin resistance.
- Don’t Forget to Exercise
Exercise keeps your insulin resistance in check. It’s so effective that even those who already have diabetes notice significant changes in their insulin resistance upon engaging in aerobic exercise.
- Consider Supplementation
Take additional supplements, like Vitamin D, to help your endocrine system.
- Think About Sleep Quality
An imbalance in hormone levels can be attributed to lack of sleep.
There are many other ways to achieve hormonal balance. While you’ll probably have to make all sorts of changes to your routine and habits, it will all be worth it in the end.
The Sign of Good Health
Remember that hormone balance is a sign of good health. No matter your age or gender, check your hormone levels regularly with a good hormone testing kit at home.