I THINK I HAVE A HORMONE IMBALANCE - HOW CAN I KNOW FOR SURE?
If you've been suffering from persistent symptoms or are dealing with chronic health issues that won’t go away, testing your hormone levels can often provide the answers you’ve been seeking.
A simple saliva test can detect hidden hormone imbalances that sabotage our best efforts to lose weight, balance our moods, remember things, boost energy, sleep well, enjoy sex, look good, feel good and stay healthy!!
You can take our hormone quiz HERE to see if your symptoms align with those of a hormone imbalance, or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions / help building a package. Note: we cannot go in depth into symptoms or provide suggestions without going through the testing and/or consulting process.
WHAT OPTIONS DO YOU HAVE FOR TESTING/CONSULTING?
We are currently offering a "Rebalance Rescue Guide" test kit package (including a saliva test) for women of all ages! You will see options to 'add on' extra customization, a 1:1 phone consultation and/or a vitamin D or thyroid (blood spot) test at checkout.
Note: Our lab (ZRT's) saliva test measures the 5 master hormones: Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone, DHEA and Cortisol(s). Samples are collected 4 x over the course of 1 day to assess full adrenal function (4 x cortisol levels).
WHAT IS YOUR APPROACH TO HORMONE BALANCING?
Our approach is all natural and in alignment with the goals of integrative or functional health in that we look for the root cause of hormone-linked symptoms that many women struggle to find relief from (weight gain/difficulty losing weight/belly fat, fatigue, anxiety, sleep issues, irregular/heavy/absent periods, mood swings, breast tenderness, sugar cravings, acne, low libido, reduced strength/stamina, etc.).
YHB prefers saliva testing, which is considered by many experts to be the gold standard for assessing adrenal function and a more accurate measure of “bioavailable” or ACTIVE hormone levels that can be matched up closely to symptoms being experienced. Click HERE to read why we prefer saliva testing over standard blood testing.
Once we have saliva test results in hand (providing a clear picture of where your 'master' hormone levels lie) we provide comprehensive rebalancing education to help you understand your levels, along with the best lifestyle + diet + exercise strategies for optimal hormone health.
Those who add on a "custom guide" at checkout (via our rebalance rescue package), will receive supplement / bioidentical hormone rebalancing suggestions, as well as EXTRA lifestyle/nutrition suggestions and resources - based on their tested hormone levels and symptoms!
There is also the option to add on a 1:1 phone consultation for a thorough review of your results and suggested next steps. Includes a post-call recap.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN YOUR REBALANCING GUIDES?
Please visit our "Rebalance Rescue Guide" Test Kit package page to see all details for everything included! To summarize, you'll receive:
- 1 x saliva test kit (measures estrogen, progesterone, DHEAs, testosterone & 4 x cortisols)
- 1 x results recap - (a translation of your lab results + relevant education to help you understand imbalances, root causes, related symptoms and an overview of "next steps" to rebalance)
- Access to our "Rebalance Rescue" library of hormone health modules/lessons to help you optimize your hormones at any age - with lessons on: understanding your hormones & cycles, preventing fluctuations & imbalances, lifestyle non negotiables, smart supplementation, overview of hormone replacement therapy (BHRT vs. HRT) & support finding adequate medical care.
Those who "add on" a custom rebalancing guide will receive more in-depth lifestyle + diet + supplement + bioidentical hormone suggestions based on tested hormone levels and symptoms.
All supplements/herbs/plant based hormone suggestions in our custom rebalancing guides are from reputable, high quality brands that have been third party tested, and are available for purchase online. The physician formulated, bioidentical hormone products we might suggest (if testing indicates a need) are suggested for use in ‘goldilocks’ doses, to mimic the amounts produced by the body / help ‘top up’ hormones to more optimal levels. We provide 'smart use instructions' for women of different ages (pre / post menopause) to consider and/or discuss with their health care team.
All information we provide is based on what experts in the field of functional and integrative medicine know, and are continually learning, about best practices for achieving natural hormone balance at any age. All supplements, dietary, exercise and lifestyle changes are known to promote and support natural hormone balance (but should not be construed as medical advice. You should consult with your primary care physician for medical advice, treatment and/or diagnosis).
WHY DO YOU PREFER SALIVA TESTING OVER STANDARD BLOOD TESTING?
#1. Saliva testing allows convenient home collection that is pain free and non-invasive and does not create a stress response (i.e. skin pricked with a needle for a blood draw, which can skew test results).
#2. Saliva testing measures “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. Meanwhile, standard blood tests measure TOTAL hormones, including INACTIVE hormones still bound to carrier proteins in the blood stream.
Note: Many women receive “normal” blood test results even though they feel anything BUT normal! This is where saliva goes deeper, allowing you to connect the dots between your symptoms and ACTIVE hormone levels!
#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 heavy painful periods, weight gain, bloating, PMS/mood swings, hypothyroid and higher risks for breast cancer. (This imbalance can also present in women with normal or LOW estrogen levels, if progesterone levels are low or "inadequate" relative to estrogen).
#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 diurnal pattern (note: adrenal glands produce cortisol). Cortisol or “stress” patterns (a major indicator of adrenal function), cannot be accurately measured in a standard blood draw using needles at 1 random time of day that can trigger a stress response and skew results.
#5. Saliva samples are collected during a specific time in the cycle (for those with a recent or trackable period), when hormones are surging in the luteal phase. Those with no cycles or irregular cycles may test any day of the month they are not bleeding/spotting.
WHAT ARE THE MASTER HORMONES YOU TEST AND WHAT ARE THEY RESPONSIBLE FOR?
Estrogen: Estrogen has been labeled “the angel of life,” because it makes cells grow – developing the female organs: uterus, breasts, ovaries, growing the egg within the ovary each cycle, and thickening the blood rich lining of the uterus (endometrium) that is shed in the monthly period. Too much estrogen unchecked by progesterone, its balancing partner, can lead to estrogen dominance marked by heavy periods, PMS, and weight gain and more serious estrogen-driven disorders such as fibroids, endometriosis and cancers of the breast and uterus. On the other end of the spectrum, too little estrogen can lead to hot flashes and night sweats, vaginal dryness and bone loss (osteoporosis).
Progesterone: Progesterone is primarily made in the ovaries and is produced upon ovulation. When for a variety of reasons we don’t ovulate every cycle, our bodies can’t produce enough progesterone to keep estrogen levels in check, setting us up for estrogen dominance. Progesterone is also known as the “pregnancy” hormone (think ‘pro-gestation’) that secures the fetus in utero and provides essential support throughout the pregnancy. Known as the "great balancer," progesterone is a calming hormone that can help reduce symptoms such as anxiety and painful periods while keeping moods balanced+ supporting deeper sleep.
(Androgen Hormones): Testosterone & DHEA: Along with the most noticeable effect of low libido, testosterone and DHEA deficiency can deplete bone and lean muscle mass, leading to decreased strength and stamina, a lower metabolic rate (inefficient calorie burning), and even a decrease in mental outlook and cognition. (Do you struggle with low self-esteem and finding your confidence/ voice? This is also a sign of low androgen levels).
On the other hand, higher androgen hormone levels are associated with acne, weight gain/belly fat, hair loss, facial/body hair, aggression/irritability, sugar cravings, fatigue and risks for insulin resistance and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
Cortisol: Produced by the adrenal glands, this hormone helps to regulate the stress response, blood sugar balance, the sleep wake cycle and immune functions. Levels should be highest in the morning for daytime energy supplies, and should drop gradually throughout the day to lower levels at night, for calming and sleep readiness. Imbalances of cortisol indicate taxed adrenals that may not adequately meet bodily demands for increased energy or immunities, especially during periods of heightened or prolonged stress.
For all of the above mentioned hormones, saliva test results can serve as a guide to rebalancing and rebuilding our health.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO NATURALLY REBALANCE MY HORMONES? (+ A NOTE ON RETESTING)
This really varies depending on the person and whether or not there has been prolonged stress, poor diet, and long-term use of synthetic hormones either in birth control or hormone replacement (HRT).
As you will often hear: “we are all uniquely made,” so when making diet or lifestyle changes and adding new supplements/herbs to the body, each woman's experience can be somewhat different! Most notice symptom relief in one or more symptoms within the first few weeks, while those with more severe symptoms and imbalances and/or those who have been using synthetic hormones (including birth control) for many years, may need more time (3 cycles/months) of consistently following their rebalancing protocol to experience the biggest changes.
Consistency following your rebalancing protocol should show up as improved hormone levels in a follow-up test. A good time to retest is 3-4 months after making lifestyle/nutritional changes. Retesting is important because it allows you to see how the changes you’ve been diligently making are positively impacting your hormone levels and any areas that could use some adjusting / re-focus. You may also find that you want to switch up some of your supplements to match your current hormone levels (and/or wean off some of them entirely). For these reasons, we don’t suggest waiting longer than 6 months to retest, and we provide ‘client only discounts’ on retesting!
Keep in mind: the natural or ‘holistic’ approach to hormone balance can be a more gradual adaptation (VS. using synthetic hormones/birth control for short-term results that can lead to long-term issues...) but is one known to provide long-lasting results without nasty side effects!
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I PURCHASE A TEST KIT?
After purchasing a package with us, we will mail out your saliva test kit – to arrive at your door within 3-5 business days. Each saliva test kit is self-contained with complete directions and everything you need to collect your samples from home. The saliva test measures estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, as well as the adrenal hormones:DHEA and cortisol in four plastic tubes (to collect your saliva 4x over the course of one day: morning, noon, evening and bedtime).
Once you receive the test kit, the first thing to do is read the instructions and determine your testing window. You will test 4 x over the course of 1 day, based on your cycle length or irregularity (ex: those with a regular 28 day cycle may test on day 19, 20 or 21 - counting 'day 1' as the first day of their last menstrual cycle). We will provide detailed test instructions for women who accurately track ovulation each month, and/or have long or short cycles. Women with irregular cycles or without menstrual cycles can test any day of the month that they are not bleeding or spotting. Men may test any day of the month.
After determining your designated collection day, your first saliva sample should be collected in the morning (within 30 min. of waking, and before eating, drinking, brushing/flossing teeth or exercise); your second sample is collected around noon (or before lunch), your 3rd sample in the evening (or before dinner), and the last sample at bedtime. There is an envelope included in your kit w/ a pre-paid shipping label, which you will put your samples into, and ship to the lab via USPS. (Note: international clients will need to cover the return shipment cost to send to our lab in the US).
Your test results will be ready up to 7-10 business days from the time the lab receives your samples. Note: unforeseen mail delays may extend the time it takes for the lab to receive and process your samples. Keep in mind: saliva samples remain viable for up to 30 days without being frozen.
Your completed test analysis and report will be emailed to us at YHB, and we will let you know it's ready via email, along with next steps (details depend on the type of package purchased). Those who added on a custom guide will fill out a Q&A to help us put together the most helpful rebalancing suggestions.
Every client will have the option to "add on" a 1:1 phone consultation and/or a custom guide at checkout (via our Rebalance Rescue Package), once results are in, if they did not purchase one initially.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BIOIDENTICAL HORMONES & SYNTHETIC HORMONES (HRT)?
Bioidentical hormones, derived from natural soybean and/or plant-based substances and compounds are designed to work in exactly the same way our own naturally-occurring hormones work – like a key in a lock, they fit the cells of the body. Only a bioidentical hormone fits the hormone receptor of the cell perfectly so that the body recognizes that hormone as its own, and knows what to do with it.
Synthetic hormones, such as those found in HRT (Premarin/Prempro), birth control pills, hormonal IUD’s and implants, are unnatural and non-identical to human hormones because they have a completely different chemical structure, which does not properly “fit” the cells of the body (often derived from pregnant horses urine!). Thus, synthetic hormones can cause hormonal imbalances and side effects such as weight gain, belly fat, anxiety, stress, difficulty sleeping, sluggish metabolism and low thyroid symptoms. Serious long-term health risks, such as heart attack, strokes, blood clots and breast cancers, were revealed in the Women’s Health Initiative study (WHI 2003), causing HRT usage to plummet and use of safer, bioidentical hormone versions to increase significantly. You can read our full blog on the difference between BHRT and HRT HERE.
TEST ELIGIBILITY QUESTIONS
CAN I TEST MY HORMONES WHILE ON BIRTH CONTROL?
Yes, you can test your hormones while using birth control, but please note that your results will show hormone levels under the influence of contraception (the exception to this is the copper Paragard IUD which is non-hormonal). Testing while on birth control can still be very helpful as we can analyze these findings and discuss how your symptoms may be caused by or connected to your current B.C., along with suggestions for alleviating its effects (along with lifestyle, diet + supplement suggestions – depending on your results).** NOTE: The lab does adjust your result references ranges to account for any birth control or synthetic hormones you may be using.
If, however, you are considering coming off your birth control or switching to a non-hormonal form of contraception (copper IUD, diaphragm or cervical cap, for example), you’ll want to wait at least 4-6 weeks before testing to allow your hormones to readjust to baseline levels - i.e. not under the influence of fluctuating hormones.
**We can only provide custom insights and supplement suggestions for those who add on a custom guide to our Rebalance Rescue Packageoptions. This can also be purchased as an add-on once test results are in.
NOTE: Should you decide to test under the influence of BC now but would like to discuss taking a break or transitioning off in the future, we can provide resources and suggestions for helping you do so safely and effectively (eliminating possible side effects & symptoms)
CAN I TEST IF I AM SUPPLEMENTING WITH HORMONES?
Yes, you can test while supplementing with hormones – especially if you have been taking them for some time and need to gauge effectiveness. Before testing, you can continue to supplement with hormones but make sure to review our detailed test instructions prior to collecting your samples. We provide specific instructions for WHEN to collect your samples based on the type of hormone used (ex: if using a topical progesterone cream, you would want to take a 12-24 hour break from using the cream before collecting your samples).
NOTE: We DO NOT suggest saliva testing for those using sublingual hormones or troches (contact us for a different test type).
I AM CURRENTLY PREGNANT (OR, PLANNING TO GET PREGNANT SOON) – CAN I STILL TEST?
If you are pregnant now, your hormones will be reflective of pregnancy levels so we suggest waiting to test until you've had your baby, stopped breastfeeding (at least 3 months post breastfeeding) and periods have resumed.
I AM CURRENTLY IN MENOPAUSE, CAN I STILL TEST?
Yes, menopausal (OR "post-menopausal") women have so much to learn from testing their hormone levels! Since hormones govern physical, mental and emotional functions throughout our entire lives, women in menopause need to make sure they’ve still got hormones in all the right amounts! As we get older and ovarian hormone production wanes, replenishing key hormones can not only relieve stubborn symptoms but also protect our organs, brain, heart, skin and bones from rapid aging. This is where hormone test results are essential to determine appropriate use of bioidentical hormones, as needed.
I HAVE HAD A TOTAL HYSTERECTOMY, CAN I STILL TEST?
For starters, total hysterectomy puts a woman into “instant menopause” overnight, so regardless of her age, she and a menopausal woman have the same thing in common – a permanent lack of hormone production leading to chronic imbalance and total reliance on the adrenal glands for hormone output. Therefore, it's especially important to test for specific imbalances that may be the culprit behind troublesome symptoms and disorders common to this stage of life.
INSURANCE / PAYMENT QUESTIONS
DO YOU OFFER INSURANCE COVERAGE?
No, insurance companies do not typically cover our testing / educational services.
CAN I USE MY HSA OR FSA TO PURCHASE A PACKAGE?
Yes, we have had many clients successfully use an HSA/FSA payment card to purchase a package on our site. Contact us to request an itemized receipt, which is sometimes required for the transaction to be approved (note: we cannot guarantee approval).
HOW DOES SPLIT PAYMENT WORK?
Various split payment options are available at checkout on our Rebalance Rescue Test Kit Package options.
Please contact us at email@example.com if you have questions or are having trouble finding the split payment options.
DO YOU NEED TO BE IN THE U.S. TO PURCHASE A PACKAGE?
There’s no requirement to be in the U.S. We ship kits internationally and phone consultations are held over the phone (using Skype, Zoom or a calling card).
Simply select "international" shipping at checkout and our lab will emailing your tracking # directly. Note: you will need to cover the cost to ship your samples to our lab in Oregon.
TEST COLLECTION QUESTIONS
WHEN DO I TEST IF I HAVE AN IUD (WITH NO CYCLE)?
If you have an IUD without cycles, you can test on any day of the month since you do not have a trackable cycle.
WHEN DO I TEST IF I USE NUVA RING BIRTH CONTROL, AM I SUPPOSED TO TAKE IT OUT TO TEST?
No need to take it out for the test. You'll just want to follow the test collection instructions we provide, based on your cycle length.
WHEN SHOULD I COLLECT IF IM TAKING HORMONES?
Unless planning to discontinue use of hormones, you can continue taking your hormones. Just follow the directions below for sample collection, in case of different hormone types.
Topical Hormones (Cream or Gel)
- Collect saliva sample 12-24 hours AFTER the last dose. DO NOT APPLY ANY TOPICAL HORMONES THROUGHOUT THE DAY OF SAMPLE COLLECTION.
Oral Hormones (Pills)
If taking Progesterone: Collect saliva 6-10 hours AFTER the last dose.
For all other hormones: Collect saliva 12-24 hours AFTER the last dose.
DO NOT USE ANY ORAL HORMONES THROUGHOUT THE DAY OF SALIVA COLLECTION.
- Collect saliva 1 -2 days AFTER applying the patch.
Sublingual Hormones or Troches (Dissolved under Tongue)
We DO NOT suggest saliva testing for those using sublingual hormones or troches (contact us for a different test type).
CONSULT WITH YOUR PROVIDER for instructions if you are taking cortisol supplementation for adrenal support. If not medically necessary, STOP USING CORTISONE CONTAINING PRODUCTS 5 DAYS PRIOR TO SALIVA COLLECTION.
DO HERBS OR VITAMINS AFFECT RESULTS?
Some products, which are available over-the-counter, are known to affect hormone test results. Those include progesterone, pregnenolone, chasteberry vitex, hydrocortisone creams or inhalers, DHEA, and 7-Keto-DHEA. If you are taking ANY of the above, please make sure to list them on the test requisition form and refer to our test instructions (sent after purchase) for proper collection.
Vitamins do not have an effect on hormone levels.
If you are using any hormone-containing products or medications, you will need to list those on your test requisition form so the lab can adjust your levels accordingly. Make sure to read our test instructions carefully to ensure proper test collection, for those using hormones.
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