Testing for Hormone Imbalances: The Big Five

By Joan Haynes, ND

Hormone imbalances is something we see a lot of at Boise Natural Health. Listed below are symptoms of deficiency and excess of different hormones. Because there is such an overlap between the symptoms of the hormone imbalances, testing takes the guess work out.

Estrogens

Deficiency

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Foggy thinking
  • Memory Lapses
  • Incontinence
  • Tearful
  • Depressed
  • Insomnia
  • Heart palpitations
  • Bone loss
  • Aches/pains

Excess

  • Mood swings
  • Tender breasts
  • Water retention
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Fibrocystic breast
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Weight gain hips
  • Bleeding changes
  • Headaches
  • PMS

Progesterone

Deficiency

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Foggy thinking
  • Memory lapses
  • Incontinence
  • Tearful/Anxiety
  • Depressed
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Heart palpitations
  • Bone loss
  • Irritability
  • PMS
  • Infertility

Excess

  • Sleepiness
  • Breast swelling
  • Breast tenderness
  • Decreased libido
  • Mild depression
  • Candida infections
  • Water retention

Androgens (DHEA and Testosterone)

Deficiency

  • Low libido
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Foggy thinking
  • Foggy thinking
  • Fatigue
  • Aches/pains
  • Memory lapses
  • Incontinence
  • Depressed
  • Insomnia
  • Bone loss
  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Thinning skin

Excess

  • Excess facial hair
  • Excess body hair
  • Loss of scalp hair
  • Increased acne
  • Oily Skin

Cortisol (Adrenal Gland)

Deficiency

  • Fatigue
  • Sugar cravings
  • Allergies
  • Chemical sensitivity
  • Stress
  • Cold body temperature
  • Heart palpitations
  • Aches/pains
  • Arthritis

Excess

  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Bone Loss
  • Tired and wired
  • Weight gain in waist
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Thinning skin

Thyroid

Deficiency

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Goiter
  • Constipation
  • Low body temperature
  • Dry hair
  • Hair loss
  • Dry skin
  • Achy joints
  • Infertility

Excess

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Goiter
  • Increased hunger
  • Racing heart
  • Diarrhea
  • Excess energy
  • Bulging eyeballs
  • Mood swings

Sex Hormone and Adrenal Testing – Description and Costs

Sex hormones can be measured in saliva, blood, or urine. For menstruating women, collection is best near day 20 of their cycle. (Day 1 is the first day of bleeding). For non-menstruating women, or men, it can be run any day of the month. Salivary testing measures the “free-fraction” of the hormones, not “total” hormone levels. The free-fraction is what is available to be used by the body. The salivary panel is best used when a patient is not taking hormone replacement therapy. Typically, we test estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA and a morning cortisol. The cost for this test is $150. If a patient is experiencing adrenal symptoms, we can test adrenal function for an additional $120. This involves collecting saliva 4 times throughout the day since cortisol levels should be high in the morning and much lower at bedtime. This test is not usually covered by insurance.

Another option is 24-hour urine testing. This test is more expensive at $280 but already includes adrenal testing. We prefer this test if a patient already begun hormone replacement therapy or if they think they are likely to begin. It helps is check for optimal dosing for our patients on HRT. This test is not usually covered by insurance.

Thyroid Testing – Description and Costs

Thyroid hormones are measured through a blood test and are often covered by insurance. If a person is experiencing thyroid symptoms, we usually order at least 3 tests – TSH ($27.30), Free T3 ($19.55), Free T4 ($17.50). We may also want to know if our patient has an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s so we order two additional tests antithyroglobulin antibodies ($48.41) and antithyroid peroxidase antibodies ($25.75). Often our patients have had thyroid testing done with their regular provider and will bring in their recent labs for our opinion. There is controversy about the lab ranges that are used to determine if somebody has hypothyroidism. Some people are told they are “borderline” but with the current thinking, they are really low thyroid and often benefit greatly from treatment.

For More Information:

My article about a great thyroid book by Wentz Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause Here is great website to get more thyroid information.
Visit the ZRT lab we use for salivary hormone testing.
To find out about the lab we use for 24-hour urine collection hormone testing visit the Meridian Valley lab’s.
Check out Dr. James Wilson, ND, DC, PhD’s site for more information about adrenal function and adrenal fatigue.