FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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 without first scheduling a consultation).
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, as well as our a la carte consultation option (for those w/ existing saliva test results) and add-on option for thyroid 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.
Each package also includes a consultation with Candace to interpret your test results and a follow-up action plan to help rebalance your hormones naturally.
WHAT IS YOUR APPROACH TO HORMONE BALANCING?
Our approach is all natural and in alignment with the goals of functional medicine 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 etc., that so many women struggle with yet cannot find relief.
YHB recommends testing hormones in saliva, the gold standard for assessing adrenal function and a more accurate measure of “bioavailable” active hormone levels that can be matched up more closely to symptoms being experienced.
Our 50-minute phone consultation centers around specific imbalances identified through testing and correlated symptoms. All consults include a follow-up Action plan based to help you rebalance your hormones naturally.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN YOUR “ACTION PLAN?”
The action plan includes a hormone balancing guidebook (everything you need to know about hormones and natural hormone balance (with diet, exercise, sleep and stress management tips); a supplement support guide (with vitamins, herbs, and bio-identical hormones as needed), personally selected blogs and additional resources based on your results and conversation with Candace.
CAN I ADD A HEALTH COACHING SESSION (WITH JESSICA SUCHAN / BODY BLISS BY JESS) TO THE JUMPSTART OR GOLD PACKAGE?
Absolutely! Just email us at email@example.com to customize any package.
WHY IS SALIVA TESTING MORE ACCURATE THAN 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 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.
#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, generally days 19-21 following ovulation, when hormones are surging in the luteal phase.
WHAT DO THE 5 MASTER HORMONES DO?
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 ‘progestation’) that secures the fetus in utero and provides essential support throughout the pregnancy.
(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.
Cortisol: produced by the adrenal glands, this hormone helps to regulates 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 varying levels of adrenal fatigue so test results can serve as a guide to rebalancing and rebuilding our health.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO NATURALLY BALANCE MY HORMONES?
This really varies depending on the person and whether there has been prolonged stress, poor diet, and long-term use of synthetic hormones either in birth control or hormone replacement (HRT).
The extent to which specific hormones identified through testing are, and have been, out of balance, is the key determinant - it generally takes at least 3 months to experience relief of symptoms and improved hormone levels. 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.
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. In cycling women your collection window will generally be between days 19, 20, or 21 of your cycle (counting the first day of your last period as Day 1). For example: if the first day of your last period was March 1st, your collection window would be March 19th - 21st, so you would collect on one of those 3 days. With longer cycles collection would be a few days later, so for example: A woman with a 36 day cycle would collect anywhere between day 27 and day 30. Women with irregular cycles can test any day of the month that they are not bleeding. Women without menstrual cycles (and men) can 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. All 4 collections should take place over the course of the same day. 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 include in your kit w/ a pre-paid shipping label, which you will put your samples into, and ship to the lab via USPS.
Your test results will be ready 7-10 business days from the time the lab receives 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, including a link to book your 50 mn. phone consult with Candace. Following review of your test results, we will provide you with an Action plan of the supplements, herbs, bioidenticals and self-care options known to have natural hormone rebalancing properties and effects. We also provide a personalized list of blogs and resources relating specifically to your test findings and health concerns. You are welcome to send follow up questions to Candace after reading through the plan and/or beginning your protocol.
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, stokes, 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.
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 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 provide suggestions for alleviating its effects (along with lifestyle, diet + supplement options – depending on your results).
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.
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. When testing, you continue to supplement hormones but take note to collect your saliva samples 12 to 24 hours after your last dose. 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, 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 until you've had your baby, stopped breastfeeding, and periods have resumed until testing.
I AM CURRENTLY IN MENOPAUSE, CAN I STILL TEST?
Yes, menopausal women have so much they can 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 of 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 according to need.
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, its 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. YHB cannot bill your insurance company, but we can provide CPT codes for the test kit if requested by insurance.
CAN I USE MY HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNT TO PURCHASE A PACKAGE?
Yes, we have had several clients successfully use an HSA payment card to purchase a package on our site. We can also provide an itemized receipt, which is sometimes required for the transaction to be approved by your HSA (note: we cannot guarantee approval).
HOW DOES SPLIT PAYMENT WORK?
We can split into 2 or 3 payments. We recommend doing 2, because we can’t schedule your consultation until the full package is paid (splitting into thirds can delay this). If splitting into two, it would be half upfront (to send out your kit), and the other half once your results are in and you are ready to schedule your consultation (although you can always wait to schedule your consultation until you are ready to pay).
If you would prefer to split into thirds, it would be one third due up front, one third a month from purchase, and one third prior to scheduling your consult (which might end up being close to the 2nd payment, depending on when you collect your samples and send to the lab). If you would like to split any package into 2 or 3 payments, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I DO NOT WISH TO PAY USING PAYPAL. ARE THERE OTHER OPTIONS FOR PAYING?
Yes, please contact us at email@example.com and we will send you an invoice and steps to pay without going through PayPal.
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 all consultations are held over the phone.
DO YOU SHIP GLOBALLY?
Yes, we can ship to any international address. You can purchase direct through our website, which factors in a flat $14.99 for international shipping. You will receive a pre-paid shipping label in the kit with the lab’s address (located in Oregon), but for those that reside outside of the U.S., extra postage will need to be added to return samples to the U.S.
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 currently have a cycle.
WILL HERBS OR VITAMINS EFFECT RESULTS?
Some products, which are available over-the-counter are known to affect hormone test results. Those include progesterone, pregnenolone, hydrocortisone creams or inhalers, DHEA, 7-Keto-DHEA (Note: Please stop taking 7-Keto-DHEA 3 days/72hrs before sample collection as it can falsely elevate DHEA &/or testosterone levels. If you are taking ANY of the above, please make sure to list on the test requisition form.
Vitamins do not have an effect on hormone levels.
If you are using topical hormones in cream or gel form, you may continue to use those but DO NOT apply to your face or neck areas for 3 days/72hrs. before sample collection. For applying to other areas, please rub hormones wrist to wrist, (without using fingers) for at least 2 days before sample collection.
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.
o 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.
For any additional questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org