I THINK I HAVE A HORMONE IMBALANCE - HOW CAN I KNOW FOR SURE?
If you have 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 selecting 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?
Please visit our test kit packages page for a description of our 3 main test kit packages! Please contact us for a la carte consultation or rebalancing plan options. We can also offer thyroid + vitamin D testing.
Note: every package includes a saliva test measuring the 5 master hormones: Estrogen, Progesterone, Progesterone/Estrogen (Pg/E2) ratio, Testosterone, DHEA and Cortisol levels 4x over the course of one day.
WHAT IS YOUR APPROACH TO HORMONE BALANCING?
Our approach is all natural and in alignment with the goals of integrative health in that we look for the root cause of hormone-linked symptoms like irregular/heavy periods, breast tenderness, mood swings, weight gain, belly fat, sugar cravings, anxiety, sleep issues, acne, low libido etc., that so many women struggle with, yet cannot find relief from.
YHB prefers testing hormones in saliva, the gold standard for assessing adrenal function and a more accurate measure of “bioavailable” or ACTIVE hormone levels that can be matched up more 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 the key hormones that were tested and the best lifestyle + diet + exercise strategies for optimal hormone health. Those who purchase our "custom" or "support" package (via our test kit packages page) will also receive customized insights and rebalancing suggestion based on their results and top symptoms (this includes a guide to the top supplements + herbs known to support imbalances detected through testing).
Those who purchase our "support package" will also chat with our Hormone Health Coach, Jess Suchan (IIN Certified) of @BodyBlissByJess. In your 50 min session, Jess will dive into your rebalancing guide to help you prioritize and get organized for success on your rebalancing journey (including tangible nutrition tips, realistic goal setting, mindful eating, exercise, lifestyle adjustments + best herbs/supplements to focus on) - all based on your unique habits + lifestyle preferences! This is a great option for busy professionals or anyone who could benefit from extra support sticking to their goals.
Note: we will be adding more coaches and health practitioners to our team by Spring, 2022.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN YOUR CUSTOM "REBALANCING GUIDE?"
Our custom rebalancing guides (included only in our “test+rebalance” and “support" packages) provide in-depth lifestyle + diet + supplement suggestions to support your unique hormone levels and top symptoms.
This includes a rebalancing "snapshot" that breaks down what your lab results mean, how they relate to your top reported symptoms and additional resources to support symptom relief.
All the supplements/herbs included in our rebalancing guides are from reputable, high quality brands we use and trust, available online and OTC, without a prescription. The physician formulated, bioidentical hormone creams we include (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.
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).
All 3 packages also include our "Essentials of Hormone Rebalancing Guide" (PDF) - including general diet, movement, lifestyle/stress management suggestions for optimal hormone balance. All 3 packages also include our "non toxic product guide" for help finding the best non toxic products and brands that support hormone balance + our "Rebalancing Journal" (PDF) for help tracking symptoms and progress.
WHY DO YOU PREFER SALIVA TESTING OVER STANDARD BLOOD TESTING?
#1. Saliva testing 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 and thus correlate much more closely with reported symptoms . Standard blood tests measure total hormones, including those that are inactive hormones still bound to carrier proteins in the blood stream.
#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, mood swings, low libido, hypothyroid and higher risks for breast cancer.
Note: Many of our clients have received “normal” blood test results even though they feel anything BUT normal! This is where saliva goes deeper & gets more specific, uncovering imbalances that align with the many symptoms connected to hidden hormone imbalances!”
#4. Cortisol or “stress” patterns (a major indicator of adrenal function), cannot be accurately measured in a standard blood draw using needles that trigger a stress response and skew test results. Saliva allows stress-free collection of cortisol samples at 4 specific time points over the course of one day for more accurate charting of the diurnal pattern and normal adrenal function.
#5. Saliva samples are collected during a specific time in your cycle for increased accuracy – we help you determine this day based on your cycle length, after purchase (note: those without a regular cycle / or with no cycle can collect any day of the month they are not bleeding or spotting).
WHAT ARE THE 5 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).
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, test results can serve as a guide to rebalancing and rebuilding our health.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO NATURALLY REBALANCE MY HORMONES?
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 2-3 weeks, while those with more severe symptoms and imbalances and/or those who have been using synthetic hormones + birth control for an extended period of time may need more time (2-3 cycles) consistently following a rebalancing plan before experiencing the biggest changes.
Consistency on the rebalancing program should show up as improved hormone levels in a follow-up test. A good time to retest is after that 3-month period. Retesting is important because it allows you to see how the changes you’ve been diligently making are positively impacting your hormone levels + 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 do provide ‘client only specials’ on retest kits.
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, 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 hormone samples. 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, 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 will 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 with longer or shorter 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 you eat lunch), your 3rd sample in the evening (or before you eat dinner), and your last sample at bedtime. Once you’ve collected all samples, you can store them in the freezer until you are ready to send to the lab for analysis. 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: mail delays can extend the time it takes for the lab to receive + process your samples.
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 purchased a rebalancing guide (in the "support" or "test+rebalance" packages) - will fill out a Q&A to help us put together the most helpful / accurate rebalancing guide.
Every client will have the option to "add on" a phone consultation and/or a custom guide (once results are in), if they did not purchase one initially.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BIOIDENTICAL HORMONES & SYNTHETIC HORMONES (HRT)?
Bioidentical hormones made 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. Thus they 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., and we can provide suggestions for alleviating its effects (along with lifestyle, diet + supplement suggestions – depending on your results).** NOTE: The lab does adjust your references ranges (on your results) 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 choose our "custom" or "support" package.
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 allow a 12-24 hour break from using the cream before collecting samples).
Note to those taking synthetic hormone formulations (e.g. Premarin/Prempro): Test results will reflect hormone levels impacted by the greater potency of synthetic hormone formulations, and thus do not represent naturally-occurring levels. We can still analyze these findings, identify specific imbalances and provide suggestions for alleviating symptoms you are experiencing while using these medications, along with other lifestyle, diet + supplement recommendations (depending on your results).
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 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 no matter what her age, she and a normally 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?
Insurance coverage varies from one insurance carrier to the next- so you would need to contact your insurance carrier directly to determine eligibility for coverage. In our experience, it can be difficult to get coverage for these services - however, we can provide CPT codes for the test kit, which is often requested by insurance.
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. We can provide an itemized receipt, which is sometimes required for the transaction to be approved (note: we cannot guarantee approval, clients have rarely had any issues).
HOW DOES SPLIT PAYMENT WORK?
Various split payment options are available at checkout on our main test kit packages page.
Please contact us at email@example.com if you would like to create a custom package 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 we will provide a USPS tracking # via email. Note: you will need to cover the cost to ship your samples back to the U.S. (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 sample 12-24 hours AFTER the last dose. DO NOT APPLY ANY TOPICAL HORMONES THROUGHOUT THE DAY OF SAMPLE COLLECTION.
Sublingual Hormones or Troches (Dissolved under Tongue)
Collect saliva 24-36 hours AFTER the last dose. DO NOT USE ANY SUBLINGUAL HORMONES THROUGHOUT THE DAY OF SALIVA 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.
Cortisol Supplementation: The recommended dosage interval is mid regimen.
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.
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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