5 Reasons We Prefer Saliva Testing VS Standard Blood Testing (Specifically for Measuring: Estrogen, Progesterone, DHEA, Testosterone & Cortisol)
One of the most common questions we get from our clients is: "How is saliva testing different from the standard blood test I received from my doctor?"
Typically, the main type of hormone tests provided by traditional doctors are standard blood tests (because they are covered by insurance), which unfortunately do not measure free, 'bioavailable' I.e. active hormone levels, and therefore do not shed nearly as much light on the key imbalances behind the symptoms we are presently experiencing!
We FREQUENTLY hear from clients that everything came back "normal" after having blood work done, even though they feel anything BUT normal (which is pretty crazy making, right!?). Alternatively, our saliva tests provide comprehensive reports that are easy to understand, indicating specific imbalances and/OR calling out levels that are technically in the 'normal range,' but trending HIGH or LOW (which can be an indication of an evolving hormonal imbalance). You see, "normal" is not always optimal, and it is important to go deeper when analyzing potential root causes behind symptoms of imbalance.
NOTE: certain hormones (i.e. thyroid and vitamin D) cannot be measured in saliva. In these cases, an at-home blood spot test is suggested, which we also provide (simply prick your finger with the lancet provided and let blood drops dry on a filter card included in your kit). You can add a thyroid and/or vitamin D kit to our saliva test kit packages via our "Build Your Own Testing + Rebalancing Package."
Keep reading to learn WHY we prefer saliva testing OVER standard blood tests!
As far as using saliva instead of traditional blood tests – science proves it far more telling than the latter. Here are the primary reasons:
#1. Saliva testing allows convenient home collection that is pain free and non-invasive, thus does not create a stress response (i.e. skin pricked with a needle for a blood draw!) that can skew test results.
#2. Saliva tests measure “bioavailable" hormone levels that are active in the target tissues of the body (where hormones do their work!) and thus, results correlate much more closely with reported symptoms. Standard blood tests measure hormones still bound to carrier proteins in the bloodstream, which are INACTIVE.
#3. Standard blood tests do not show us the PG/E2 ratio, a very useful measure for determining estrogen dominance, an imbalance characterized by an excess of estrogen to progesterone linked to weight gain/difficulty losing weight, bloating, PMS/mood swings, heavy painful periods, hypothyroidism and higher risks for breast cancer (to name only a few symptoms and risks!).
#4. Saliva allows stress-free collection of cortisol samples at 4 specific time points over the course of one day for more accurate charting of normal adrenal function and the the diurnal pattern. Cortisol or “stress” patterns (a major indicator of adrenal function), cannot easily (or accurately) be measured in a standard blood draw at multiple times of day, using needles that trigger a stress response and skew test results.
#5. Saliva samples are collected during a specific time in your cycle (for those with regular cycles), generally 7 days following ovulation, when hormones are surging in the luteal phase. We will provide detailed instructions to help you pinpoint the best window of time to test, based on your cycle length and regularity. NOTE: those with no cycles or irregular cycles can accurately test any day of the month they are not bleeding. Men may also test any day of the month.
- Our CLIA certified lab adjusts reference ranges for those using hormones or birth control, so you can still get highly accurate results without stopping your present therapy (which can help you assess its effectiveness). However, if you are planning to come off hormones in the near future, we would suggest waiting at least 4-6 weeks before testing, to allow synthetic hormones to clear your system.
- The lab adjusts ranges based on age / menstrual status, gender, and certain health history factors (such as hysterectomy). NOTE: testing is not suggested for those currently breastfeeding or pregnant.
- If you are using medications or supplements, these won't impact results (unless they contain hormones) and you can continue using them on the test day. Simply record any/all medications, supplements and hormones on the test requisition form included in your kit (including dosage/date of last use).
Keep in mind: there are other ways to measure hormones - such as in urine, which is also more accurate than standard blood testing (urine measures hormone metabolites, while saliva measures ACTIVE hormone levels). We also want to acknowledge that some doctors measure 'bioavailable' hormone levels in blood, but this is not typically the case in a standard blood draw and generally much more expensive.
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Interested in testing your hormone levels and getting started on an all-natural rebalancing plan? Check out our "Build Your Own Testing + Rebalancing Package!"