Hormone Imbalance

 Where do I begin to determine whether my hormones are balanced?

To get a general idea of whether or not your hormones are balanced, record the symptoms you are currently experiencing using our Symptom Assessment Checklists. Your symptoms may point to a deficiency or excess of certain hormones.

 My symptoms suggest that I have a hormone imbalance, but how do I find out for sure?

To confirm your symptoms of hormonal imbalance, we recommend measuring those hormones associated with the symptoms you noted using our Symptom Assessment Checklist or on the test kit requisition form. You might consider ordering our Female/Male Saliva Profile I that tests estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA-S and AM cortisol. This panel, along with the more comprehensive Female/Male Saliva Profile II and Female/Male Saliva Profile III, provide you with a broader picture of your present hormone levels and identify specific imbalances. For the most comprehensive assessment of hormonal imbalance, including tests for reproductive, adrenal, and thyroid hormone testing, consider ordering one of our Comprehensive Profiles.

 What is the link between polycystic ovaries and hormonal imbalance?

Polycystic ovaries occur when numerous growths/cysts develop on the ovaries. This is commonly associated with a hormonal imbalance such as estrogen dominance and/or an excess of male hormones. In many cases, these cysts are benign and can shrink or even disappear when the hormone imbalance is corrected. The ovaries should be removed if the cysts are cancerous or causing pain and do not respond to treatment.

 What is the link between uterine fibroids and hormonal imbalance?

Estrogen dominance, an imbalance caused by excess estrogen in the relative absence of progesterone, can cause the uterine lining to grow undetected. This can lead to the growth of tough, fibrous, non-cancerous lumps called fibroids. While the average fibroid is an undetectable lump in the wall of the uterus, about the size of a hen’s egg, larger fibroids often cause irregular bleeding and heavy or painful periods. Fibroids are the most common physical reason for excessive bleeding during menstruation.

Fibroids can grow dramatically during perimenopause when they are stimulated by hormonal imbalances and fluctuations in the body. Large fibroids secrete estradiol, the most potent form of estrogen, leading to estrogen dominance. Monitoring your estrogen levels through routine hormone testing and taking appropriate steps to maintain a proper balance of estrogen to progesterone is especially important. Please note: recent information cautions against the use of progesterone for the treatment of larger fibroids. With all fibroids, hormone supplementation should be kept as low as possible.

 What is the link between hormonal imbalance and breast cancer?

There are many factors associated with hormonal imbalance and increased risk of breast cancer including:

  • Declining levels of progesterone with age and/or with removal of the ovaries in hysterectomy
  • Environmental, “xeno”-hormones in the form of pollutants and pesticides
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Synthetic hormone replacement therapy

These factors can contribute to an excess of estrogen in the body known as “estrogen dominance.” Since estrogen stimulates cell growth, a predominance of it, especially in the absence of adequate levels of progesterone (common in the menopausal years with the waning of ovulation), presents an increased risk of cancer, particularly in the breast. 

 What can hormone testing tell me if I have breast cancer?

Saliva testing in women with breast cancer often reveals a unique hormone profile. If you are interested in understanding your hormone status in regard to breast cancer, we recommend our Female/Male Saliva Profile II. This profile includes estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA-S, AM (morning) and PM (night) cortisols. For the most comprehensive assessment of hormonal imbalance, including tests for reproductive, adrenal, and thyroid hormone testing, consider ordering one of our Comprehensive Profiles.

 What is the link between thyroid function and hormonal imbalance?

Hypothyroidism or low thyroid is more common in women than men and often occurs during the perimenopausal and postmenopausal years. Approximately 26% of women in or near menopause are diagnosed with hypothyroidism. When estrogen is not counterbalanced with progesterone, a predominance of estrogen can inhibit the action of thyroid hormone at the cell level. Saliva hormone testing often reveals that women who are estrogen dominant tend to have menopausal symptoms associated with symptoms typically associated with low thyroid such as: feeling cold all the time, weight gain or inability to lose weight, thinning hair, sleep disturbances and fatigue, mood swings, depression, mental confusion, hair loss and low libido. Levels of the primary thyroid hormones can be tested as part of ZRT’s blood spot Thyroid Panel. 

 What can I do to prevent estrogen dominance?

First, we recommend testing your hormones using Female/Male Saliva Profile I to determine the extent of estrogen dominance. If your progesterone/estradiol (Pg/E2) ratio is low, this indicates that progesterone levels are inadequate in relation to estrogen levels. This is a clear indication of estrogen dominance. If this is the case, it would be a good idea to talk to your health care provider about supplementing with bioidentical progesterone to balance estrogen levels. It is also helpful to monitor your symptoms and your hormone levels regularly while following a program of hormone balance. Other important steps to take include: reducing the use of pesticides, pollutants, and chemicals in your home; eating organic foods that are free of hormones and PCB sprays; maintaining an ideal weight (excess fat increases estrogen production); exercising regularly; and avoiding unnecessary stress whenever possible. 

 What is insulin resistance and how do you test for it?

Insulin resistance occurs when cells “resist” the action of insulin to transport glucose into the cells of the body for energy production. Excess stress and lack of exercise in combination with simple sugars and carbohydrates cause the body to produce extra insulin in an attempt to normalize blood sugar levels. This results in overly high levels of insulin in the blood. Insulin resistance is associated with obesity, increased risk for Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Blood spot testing provides a simple way to measure fasting insulin levels, particularly in people at risk for the condition. The test offers insight into imbalances in individuals who have symptoms despite a normal blood glucose test. 

 Am I a candidate for the fasting insulin test?

The following people are all strong candidates for testing:

  • Individuals with known or suspected hypoglycemia, insulin resistance, diabetes, pre-diabetes, family history of diabetes, being overweight or obese.
  • Women with irregular periods, scalp hair loss, increased facial or body hair, or polycystic ovarian syndrome.
  • Individuals with symptoms of anxiety, palpitations, profuse sweating, fatigue, irritability, weakness, shakiness, dizziness, food or sugar cravings, excess weight around the waist, or high blood sugar levels.

 What is adrenal fatigue and how is it tested?

Many people today suffer from the adrenal glands' inability to respond to stress. This condition stems from various factors including chronic stress, sleep deprivation, excess caffeine and carbohydrates, chronic pain, extreme exercise, and a generally unbalanced lifestyle. Also known as adrenal insufficiency, the problem shows up with a set of symptoms ranging from chronic fatigue to infertility. Those with a hectic lifestyle are potentially at risk, but the problem is more prevalent among medical professionals, police officers, executives, teachers, single working parents, or anyone who has a very stressful lifestyle.

Adrenal fatigue is tested by measuring cortisol, a key stress response hormone. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands 24 hours a day, although output varies at different times throughout the day. Cortisol output is highest upon waking to energize us for the day ahead and declines steadily throughout the day, reaching its lowest point at night in preparation for sleep. Individuals with adrenal fatigue have a flattened cortisol profile. This means that there is no morning surge of the hormone. Cortisol can be collected once in the morning or twice a day (morning and bedtime). It may be necessary to measure cortisol four times a day if levels are out of range and symptoms indicate the need to test adrenal function throughout the day.