Saliva Testing for Hormone Imbalance
A change in hormone levels is a common occurrence in men and women of all ages. Hormone levels change during puberty and also as you get older. Women experience more frequent hormonal changes than men as they also go through hormonal changes during their cycles. Yet again, there is a change in hormone levels when they are going through menopause.
In order to stay healthy, feel good and recognize health issues early, it is rather important to keep a check on your hormone levels. There are times when you may be experiencing symptoms that may seem normal at first and don’t worry you much. Don’t ignore them! They could be the result of an imbalance in your hormones. Especially men often overlook their symptoms and rarely seek medical help.
But the question remains: How are you supposed to keep a check on your hormone levels? It can be quite a hassle to visit the doctor every now and then, so many people believe that saliva testing at home might be a more convenient alternative. Is this true? Before we get to that though, let’s go over a few symptoms that could indicate hormonal imbalance.
Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance to Look Out For
Normal changes in hormones will have almost no effect on your body. However, underlying medical conditions that cause hormone imbalance show visible symptoms. If the change in hormones is due to improperly functioning endocrine glands, here are a few symptoms you should look out for:
- Sudden Gain or Loss in Bodyweight
- Sweating Without Any Reason
- Excessive Body Hair Growth
- Hair Loss
- Skin Rashes
- Excessively Dry Skin
- Change in Tolerance to Heat or Cold
- Weakening of Bones
- Reduction in Sex Drive
- Erectile Dysfunction
If you are experiencing any one of the above symptoms, you could have hormonal imbalance issues due to a medical condition.
Why Are Hormone Levels So Important?
The endocrine system in your body produces chemicals that travel across your body through the blood stream. These chemicals go to various tissues and organs in your body. These chemicals tell your organs and tissues what function they need to perform and when to perform it. These chemicals are known as hormones.
In essence hormones are essential for your body as help regulate major processes of your body. So, even a slight change in the levels of hormone could disrupt bodily functions. A few functions that hormones control include:
- Heart Rate
- Sleep Cycle
- Development and Growth
- Stress Levels
What Causes Hormonal Imbalance?
Apart from natural causes, a disruption in the levels of hormones could also indicate that your endocrine glands are not functioning properly. Endocrine glands are cells that control the production, distribution and storage of hormones to control different organs. There are many medical conditions that could result in the disruption of hormonal imbalance in your body. A few common medical conditions that could disrupt the level of hormones in your body are:
- Extreme Stress
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Insufficient Diet
- Nutritional Deficiency
- Endocrine Gland Injury
- Deficiency of Iodine
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
- Ovarian Cancer
- Early Menopause
- Birth Control
- Prostate Cancer
As you can see, having an incorrect hormonal balance can be caused by quite serious conditions, so you will want to investigate the cause of your symptoms quickly. But how can you best do that?
How Can You Test For Hormonal Imbalance?
Typically, you will need to visit a doctor to have your hormone levels tested. Testing for hormones has to be done at specific times and which is why visiting a doctor might not always be convenient. Some people are suggesting to use saliva tests to test your hormone levels at home. But is this a good idea, or should you call your doctor to schedule a visit? Let’s learn more about it:
Is Saliva Testing for Hormone Imbalance Reliable?
When you do a hormone test to understand if you have any hormonal imbalance that can be caused by a medical condition, you will want to make sure that the test you’re using is reliable, and gives you correct values that reflect the actual hormone levels in your blood.
There are two forms of hormones in your blood, free and protein bound. Free hormones are also known as unbound hormones and they are biologically active, whereas, protein bound hormones are non-bioavailable and have no function on other cells.
Whereas testing hormones in your blood serum can measure both free and bound proteins, and therefore give you more information, saliva testing only measures the bioavailable or unbound hormone, which is the portion that is delivered to the tissues in the body. This means that the hormone levels found in your saliva are much lower than how they actually are found in your blood.
Also, the hormone levels in your saliva change depending on the time of the day, your diet and hydration, as well as how much saliva you have in your mouth. All of these factors can change the hormone levels that are measured, which is not good if you are looking for a precise, reliable test for your hormones.
There currently is not enough scientific evidence to prove that saliva testing for hormone imbalance is a reliable method, and currently no medical guidelines for conditions such as menopause, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or hirsutism indicate that saliva testing is a reliable method to screen, diagnose or monitor these conditions.
Saliva testing is currently not considered an accurate method to test your hormone levels and find out if you have a hormonal imbalance.
Maintaining your hormonal balance is as important for men as it is for women. If you experience symptoms that could indicate a hormonal imbalance, it’s a good idea to reach out to your physician or healthcare professional and go for a check-up. They can then look into it and find out if there is an underlying cause to your symptoms, and suggest treatment options for it.
Many people may think about doing a saliva test at home to check their hormone balance, as it sounds more convenient than going to a doctor’s appointment. However, these saliva tests are currently not reliable enough to precisely measure your hormone levels. The blood test at your doctor’s office is much more reliable, and together with them you can find a way to get back to balanced hormone levels.