What is a hormone panel?
A hormone panel is performed using blood or saliva to detect the different hormone levels in your body. Hormones are the chemical messengers that coordinate changes throughout many different systems and organs, so a small shift in hormones can often have large-scale effects. For this reason, it’s vitally important to track hormone levels and monitor potential hormonal imbalances. While each test may focus on different functions of hormones, they all essentially work to provide an in-depth examination of your endocrine system and bring your health into focus on a chemical level.
Why might I need advanced hormone testing?
When certain hormones are under- or over-produced, the resulting hormonal imbalance can present with physical and reproductive health issues. Advanced hormone testing plays an important role in diagnosis and treatment. If you are experiencing certain symptoms, a hormonal imbalance may be responsible. After your healthcare provider analyzes your test results, they may review different treatment plan options to help you optimize your health and improve your quality of life.
Metabolism and Hormones
Because hormones play such a fundamental role in overall health, hormonal imbalances can manifest in a variety of ways. If the hormonal imbalance is impacting your metabolism, common symptoms may include:
Unexpected and sudden weight loss
Anxiety or depression
Often, hormonal imbalances that affect your metabolism may be related to an issue with the thyroid gland. The thyroid is a small endocrine gland that regulates the production of certain hormones, including thyroxine or tetraiodothyronine (known as T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).
Stress and Hormones Additionally, there may be hormone imbalances related to your adrenal glands. Two adrenal hormones are cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), known as the stress hormones. A cortisol and DHEA imbalance may lead to fatigue, depression, and/or irritability. Hormone testing is valuable for determining possible adrenal issues, which may include Addison’s disease, a form of adrenal insufficiency where the adrenal gland does not produce enough of certain hormones.
There are also hormonal imbalances specific to each gender. For females, a hormonal imbalance might also cause heavy or irregular periods, hair loss, hyperpigmentation, excessive hair growth, headaches, and acne. For males, hormonal imbalances include symptoms such as loss of muscle mass, difficulty concentrating, erectile dysfunction, gynecomastia (the development of breast tissue), a decrease in beard and hair growth, and hot flashes. While these symptoms are not exclusively shown by females or males with hormone imbalances, they are commonly linked, and a hormone panel is a crucial step to discovering the cause of these symptoms. Our lab services offer several female hormone panels specifically formulated to analyze women’s health and wellness, including our Menopause Panel and o
ur Female EvaluatoR Panel, which measures estradiol and progesterone levels over the course of a menstrual cycle.
Likewise, the male-specific panels are calculated to measure the most relevant hormone levels, such as the Andropause panel, which tracks DHEA and testosterone levels. Even if you have not shown any of these symptoms, hormone testing is a helpful tool for monitoring your health. Hormone production naturally shifts during different periods of life, and it is important to track these changes to prevent hormone imbalances.
What hormones are being measured and what do they do?
Over 50 hormones have been identified in the human body. Of these hormones, there are a select group that significantly impacts mental, physical, and sexual health. These are the hormones that are the most likely to lead to hormonal imbalances. Alongside these hormones, an advanced hormone panel may measure additional assays, such as your liver, kidney, and cardiac functions.
Testing for a variety of analytes and hormones, including:
Androstenedione: A steroidal androgen involved in the production of estrogen and testosterone.
Cortisol and Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate (DHEA-S): Both cortisol and DHEA are produced in the thyroid gland, though a small portion of DHEA is also produced in the ovaries. These are considered to be “stress hormones.”
Estradiol, Estrone and Estriol (Estrogens): Estrogen is a catego
ry of sex hormone largely responsible for regulating the female reproductive system. Estrodiol, estrone, and estriol are three types of estrogen.
Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH): This hormone is produced in the pituitary gland and vital to reproductive health. Low or high levels of FSH may cause infertility.
Luteinizing hormone (LH): The Luteinizing hormone spurs ovulation and is vital to female reproductive health.
Leutinizing Hormone (LH): Luteinizing hormone is a hormone produced by gonadotropic cells in the anterior pituitary gland.
Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4): The two main hormones produced by the thyroid.
Testosterone (Total & Free): Testosterone acts as a male sex
hormone to regulate reproductive health and secondary sex characteristics. Many of our hormone panels measure total testosterone, which shows the total measure of testosterone in your blood.
Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH): TSH stimulates the thyroid to produce T3 and T4.
Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG): A protein made by the liver. SHBG binds certain hormones, like estrogens and androgens, together.
Progesterone: Progesterone is the most important progestogen in the body. It is an endogenous steroid and progestogen sex hormone involved in the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and embryogenesis of humans and other species.
Pregnenolone: Pregnenolone is an endogenous steroid and precursor/metabolic intermediate that plays a key role in the production of other steroid hormones, including progesterone, DHEA, and estrogen.
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT): DHT is the sex hormone that stimulates the development of male characteristics.
Prolactin: Prolactin, also known as lactotropin, is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland. It is a protein best known for its role in enabling mammals to produce milk.
What are the benefits of hormone testing? Advanced hormone testing has a variety of benefits. As well as monitoring potential imbalances, hormone testing allows you to:
Track your adrenal patterns.
Throughout the day, your body produces different amounts of cortisol and DHEA. If this pattern is irregular, it can cause symptoms such as fatigue and depression. By tracking this pattern, you can determine potential environmental causes, such as job-related stress.
Understand the chemical changes in your body as you age.
During each period of your life, your body undergoes drastic hormonal changes. Hormone testing can help you make healthy adjustments during these hormonal shifts.
Improve your overall health and wellness. From weight loss to mood swings, your hormonal health is fund
amental to your daily life. By addressing hormonal imbalances, you can increase longevity, boost energy, promote reproductive health, and more. For many, hormone testing is the first step towards defining their health goals and putting themselves back on track.
Hands and Hearts Birth & Botanical is very excited to join with Access Medical Labs to offer a wide variety of hormone and standard testing at a greatly discounted price. We want to help you understand, track, and optimize your health.
Schedule your yearly exam and labwork soon and let Access Labs and Hands and Hearts Birth & Botanical share in your health journey!