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Blood Test for Hormone Levels

Having your hormones tested is critical if you are experiencing symptoms of hormone disruption.  Testing gives a starting point for treatment and understanding of what your body is doing.

Thyroid testing – this is done easily as a blood test requisition by your family doctor.  However, be aware that requesting general blood work, does not include thyroid levels.  The thyroid must be requested and tested separately.  Be sure to ask your doctor if the requisition includes a Thyroid test.

Cortisol testing – Cortisol is also easily tested through a requisition from your family doctor.  Like the Thyroid, it must be noted separately on the requisition, otherwise it will not be included.

Sex Hormone testing (progesterone, estrogen, testosterone) – These blood tests are not commonly requested by a doctor unless there is a suspicion of a woman entering menopause.  Having these levels tested, even when not in menopause, or long after menopause has occurred, can be important in managing your optimal health.  If your doctor is reluctant to request these tests, go to a Naturopath and request saliva testing.

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Saliva Test for Hormone Levels

Saliva testing is just that, testing your saliva for hormones. Why use a saliva test instead of a blood test?

Blood test for hormones measures the level of a particular hormone as it is circulating throughout your body.  However there is always a portion of your hormone level which is “unbound”  and bio-available.  This means that a quantity of hormone is readily accessible and usable by the cells in your body.  This level is not captured in a regular blood test.  When we are supplementing our hormone health with a natural therapy, it can take weeks, and sometimes months for the level to show in a blood test, even though our bodies are using the hormones immediately.  A saliva test gives a picture of what your hormone levels are right now!

Whether you visit your Naturopathic Doctor for a kit or if you order at At-Home kit online, you must be careful to follow the instructions exactly. Depending on which hormones you are wanting to test, you will need to spit into a series of little test-tubes several times a day over a series of days. You would think you will never run out of saliva, but it can be surprisingly challenging to collect the amount that the sample requires. Just be patient with yourself, and allow a few minutes of quiet during collection.

Once your collection has been completed, your test is then returned to the Naturopath, or returned per the instructions in your At-Home test kit.  Your results are forwarded to a lab and you will have your results within one or two weeks, depending on how far afield the lab is from your home town. Saliva testing is not generally covered by government medical plans, but it may be covered under your corporate benefits. Check with your administrator.

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Difficulty Losing Weight – Hormone Weight Gain

It can be very difficult, if not impossible, to lose weight if hormones are unbalanced.  Weight gain from hormone imbalance usually collects around the mid-section (belly) and thighs. It can seem that no matter which diet you try or which exercise you pursue, the weight doesn’t budge.

Particularly, once we hit menopause, it seems that all the old rules of fitness which we’ve clung to our whole lives no longer work for us. The rules have changed and no one has given us the new play book! It is imperative to understand that we will not lose our “hormone weight” until our hormones are balanced for our optimum health. The first step to this balancing act is to have our hormone levels tested, through blood test, saliva test, Vega test, or all three.

Once you receive your test results and have agreed on a plan with your doctor as to how to correct your hormone balance problem, be sure to speak to your doctor about what type of exercise would be appropriate for you. This is very important because depending on your particular hormone profile, some exercises may be better than others, and some exercises may even be dangerous for you to try during this time.

It should be noted here, that even if your doctor recommends an exercise plan for you, be sure to do just a little investigation on her recommendation yourself. This comment comes from my personal experience. When I was diagnosed with an extremely overactive thyroid, my doctor at the time said that it was okay for me to continue the heavy cardio exercise program that I was on. This in fact was very bad advice. My own research showed me that cardio in particular, was very dangerous for my condition. This was due to the fact that in an overactive thyroid state, my resting heart rate was already 120 beats per minute. My exercise was throwing my rate through the roof and into a dangerous zone of cardiac arrest.

Battling this weight gain can be such a discouraging time for women.  Earlier in life, when our hormones were perfectly balanced, our exercise was often a means-to-an-end — to get fit and slim and improve our appearance.  Now, in the midst of menopause or other hormonal upset, it just doesn’t seem to work that way.  We have to put a “new tape” in our head as far as how we talk to ourselves about this.  The only way to succeed in losing hormone weight gain is, let me say it again, to ensure that our hormones are balanced.  Then we have to be faithful every day to eat properly and exercise.  It can take a long time for the body to release this weight.  Sorry for this bit of bad news, but there is no magic formula.  While we wait, continue to be faithful to yourself.  Instead of succombing to a pill that promises it all, spend that energy examining your diet.  Drink lots of clean water, and incorporate fresh veggies and lean proteins into your diet.  Be aware of what you are drinking when it comes to alcohol and caffeine.

We must always consult with our doctor when we make a change in our lifestyle, and just as importantly, we must take responsibility for ourselves and do just a bit of research on our own.

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Meet the Author – Brenda Thompson

Meet the Author

Hi, my name is Brenda Thompson and I have been dealing with hormone issues my whole life.  It is my desire to share with you both my experience and what I have learned as a result of my journey.  It is my hope that the information I share in this Website may benefit you and that with the help and supervision of your health-care professional(s), you can find your own unique solution for your optimal hormone health.  It is my goal to continually build and update this Website as a free support forum for both you and me.   Facing my hormone issues through my life has been a lonely road.  You don’t have to feel the same way.

This Website is written out of my experience with debilitating hormonal issues. My body of knowledge is…my body’s knowledge.  Welcome to my Website and I hope you enjoy your visit here.  I always enjoy hearing from my visitors, so please feel free to send me a note through the email link using “Contact Info” on the top menu bar.  If there is a topic of interest for you which you do not see here, please email me and I will research and compile the information for you to the best of my ability.

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Briefly then, I will share 40 years of hormone history in a few paragraphs!  At the ripe old age of 9 years, I had my first ovary removed.  This seemed to have little impact on my life at the time, other than being an omen of things to come.  At age 21, I was diagnosed with a major over-active thyroid problem.  My thyroid condition was so severe that my specialist told me he didn’t know exactly how over-active my thyroid actually was.  My test scored off their charts.  It is also unknown for how many years my over-active thyroid had raged.  At each annual doctor appointment I would share my symptoms:  extreme sweating throughout the day; tremors and shakiness; migraines; my hair fell out by the handful; a completely compromised immune system — I had severe allergies and came down with every bug that was going around from the stomach flu to larangitis and pleurisy (a very painful type of pneumonia).   In spite of these symptoms, my thyroid was never tested.

Finally treating my thyroid brought on a too-low-thyroid response which had to be corrected through medication.  This severe swing in my condition brought on a lengthy depression, as well a battle to re-build my immune system and general health.  This is when I started reading everything I could find on the thyroid.  It is interesting to note, that during these years, which would be the mid-80’s, thyroid problems were not investigated readily by doctors.  I have many friends who, based on my experience, would ask their family doctor to test their thyroid and were flatly told that it was not necessary.  There was an article in the Readers’ Digest magazine in 1988 which brought awareness to this condition to their readership.  I rejoiced when I saw this issue.  I took it around to everyone I knew and said “see, see…I wasn’t crazy!”  From this point on, I noticed that more and more mainstream magazines were picking up on this subject.  Now, thank goodness, the thyroid test is usually included in a general battery of blood work.

In 1997, at age 33, the surgical removal of my last existing ovary plunged me into what is called “surgical menopause”. My entry to this phase of life was termed by my doctor as “violent”, due to my young age and unnatural method.   I began another battle of symptoms such as I had never experienced:  hot flashes; night sweats; forgetfulness; weight loss and weight gain;  complete emotional instability.  I literally turned into a person I did not recognize.  Immediately after my surgery, and before I even knew what was happening, I was on synthetic Hormone Replacement Therapy to try to control the menopausal symptoms I was having.  I knew in my heart that this was the wrong treatment for me.  This was reinforced to me years later  when the Women’s Health Initiative abandoned their study on HRT due to unfavourable results.

I had to get off of HRT.  In the face of unsupportive doctors I began what was to become a lifelong quest to find the most natural therapies and support in order to regain my health.  Shortly after my surgery, I went to my local library and checked out every book I could find on the subject of menopause and hormones.  I came home with 5 books.  One was a highly technical medical journal, one was a woman’s rant about her menopause, and the other three offered no more than the odd tidbit of moderately-helpful information.  Over a decade later, the information which is now available to us on the Internet and in print is profound.

During my research, I began to challenge my doctors about the dangers of synthetic HRT, the risk of not balancing progesterone and estrogen, and other related issues.  These and other arguments were met with either a dismissive pat on the head, or an inference that I knew not of which I spoke.   Now, over a decade later, mainstream medical doctors are writing articles proving the positions I had held for myself on these topics.   So, mainstream medicine is opening their minds; we have so much available to us in terms of natural remedies and therapies; we can visit Naturopathic Doctors and other alternative health-care providers and use their support in concert with that of our mainstream Medical Doctor.  Let’s make the most of the beginning of this enlightened time and find our path to optimal hormone health!