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 hormones can 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 email@example.com with questions / help selecting a package. *(note: we cannot go in depth into symptoms without fist 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/ outside 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 ratio (Pg/E2 ratio) Testosterone, DHEA and Cortisol levels (4x over course of 1 day), each package also includes a consultation with Candace and a customized action plan for naturally rebalancing your hormones.
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 hormonal imbalances that are so often behind unwanted symptoms such as irregular/heavy periods, breast tenderness, mood swings, weight gain, belly fat, sugar cravings, anxiety, sleep issues etc. etc., that so many struggle with for years and cannot find relief.
We recommend testing hormones in saliva, which is the gold standard for measuring adrenal/cortisol function, and is a highly accurate way to measure bioavailable hormone levels (Progesterone, Estrogen, Testosterone, DHEA, Cortisol)—i.e. those that correlate most closely with the symptoms we experience, allowing us to get to the root cause (versus standard blood tests which measure inactive hormone levels bound to proteins in the blood stream).
All consultations are based around test results, and include an all natural hormone balancing action plan based on your results & conversation with Candace.
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, including diet, exercise, sleep and stress management tips), a supplement support guide (recommended herbs, supplements, bio-identical hormones– based on test results), and hand selected blogs and additional resources / reading 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to customize any package.
WHY IS SALIVA TESTING MORE ACCURATE THAN BLOOD TESTING?
#1. Saliva testing is very convenient, as you collect your samples from home. It is also non-invasive, and does not create a stress/ cortisol response (i.e. when pricked with a needle for a blood draw!).
#2. Saliva tests measure “bioavailable" hormone levels that are active in the target tissues of the body and correlate much more closely with symptoms being experienced such as PMS, allergies, weight gain, heavy periods, acne, PCOS etc. (while standard blood tests measure INACTIVE hormones bound up to proteins in the blood stream)
#3. Standard blood tests do not show us the PG/E2 ratio between estrogen and progesterone, which is a very useful measure for identifying imbalances between these two master female hormones, such as estrogen dominance (correlated to inability to lose weight, mood swings, painful periods).
#4. Cortisol or “stress” patterns (a major indicator of adrenal function), cannot be accurately measured in a standard blood draw -using needles that can trigger a stress response thus skewing test results. This is why saliva testing is considered the gold standard for measuring adrenal function as it is non-invasive, and painless allowing stress-free collection of cortisol at 4 specific time points over the course of one day to chart the diurnal pattern and assess adrenal function (giving us insight into energy levels over the course of one day).
#5. Saliva samples are collected during a specific time in your cycle, days 19-21 when hormones are surging for increased accuracy.
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. On the other end of the growth spectrum, excess estrogen activity that is unchecked by adequate levels of progesterone can become toxic to the body, a major imbalance known as estrogen dominance, linked to heavy, painful periods, PMS, tender/fibrocystic breasts, bloating and weight gain in the hips and thighs, and knock-on low thyroid symptoms.
Progesterone: Progesterone is primarily made in the ovaries and produced only 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.
(Androgen Hormones): Testosterone & DHEA: Along with the most noticeable effect of low libido, testosterone and DHEA deficiency can lower bone density and lean muscle mass, leading to decreases in strength, stamina, mental clarity, and reduced metabolic rate (inefficient calorie burning).
Cortisol: produced by the adrenal glands, this hormone regulates the stress response, glucose/insulin metabolism, and immune function. Levels should be highest in the morning for daytime energy supplies, dropping gradually to lowest levels at night for calming and sleep. Imbalances of high or low cortisol levels can cause inflammation, anxiety, allergies, bone loss, sugar cravings fat storage in the midsection and lower immune reserves against illness and disease.
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).
The extent to which specific hormones are out of balance based on the testing and how long they have been out of balance is the key determinant - it generally takes 3 months on average once following a program of hormone rebalancing consistently to experience relief of symptoms and improved hormone levels – and we advise retesting 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 4 plastic tubes (to collect your saliva 4 x over the course of one day).
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 be between days 19, 20, or 21 of your cycle (counting the first day of your last period as Day 1). So for example: if the first day of your last period was March 1, your window is between March 19th - 21st, so you would collect on one of those 3 days. Women with a 36 day cycle should collect samples anywhere between day 27 and day 30. Women with irregular cycles can test any day of the month. Men can test any day of the month as well.
After determining your designated collection day, your first saliva sample should be taken in the morning (within 30 mns. of waking and before eating, drinking, brushing/flossing teeth or exercise); your second sample 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 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, and we will let you know it's ready via email, including a link to book your 50 mn. phone consult to go through the results with Candace. After your appointment, Candace will provide you with an action plan, including all natural recommendations (e.g. supplements, herbs, phytoestrogens, and bioidentical hormones, as needed - that do not require a prescription) known to have specific hormone balancing properties, as well as dietary, exercise and lifestyle suggestions. She will also provide a list of blogs / additional resources based on your discussed with Candace, and what your test results revealed. You are welcome to send follow up questions to Candace after beginning your protocol.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BIOIDENTICAL HORMONES & SYNTHETIC HORMONES (HRT)
Bioidentical hormones are made from natural soybean and/or plant-based substances and compounds and 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 the body recognizes that hormone as its’ own, and knows what to do with it.
Synthetic hormones such as those found in HRT (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. They can cause hormonal imbalances and side effects such as unwanted weight gain, belly fat, anxiety, stress, difficulty sleeping, sluggish metabolism and low thyroid symptoms. Serious longterm health risks such as heart attack, stokes, blood clots and breast cancers were revealed in the Women’s Health Initiative study 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, just 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 + discuss how your symptoms may be caused by or connected to your current B.C., and discuss suggestions for alleviating its effects (along with other lifestyle, diet + supplement recommendations – 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 USE HORMONE MEDICATIONS?
Yes, you can test your hormones while using hormone medications- just note that both impact your natural balance of hormones, so test results will reflect hormone levels under the influence. 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 a lot to learn from testing our hormone levels! Keep in mind that hormones govern our physical, mental and emotional functions throughout life. They are protective too (of uterus, heart, blood vessels, brain, muscles, bones), so at menopause, women need to make sure they’ve still got hormones in all the right amounts! As we get older and ovarian hormone production wanes, replenishing is needed for protective and symptom relieving benefits. 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, no matter what her age, so she and a normally menopausal woman have the same thing in common – a lack of hormone production leading to imbalances, symptoms, weight gain and total reliance on the adrenal glands for hormone output. Therefore, it is especially important at this stage of life to test hormone levels to determine specific imbalances linked to weight gain, difficulty losing, and related symptoms like low thyroid and slow metabolism.
INSURANCE/ payment questions
DO YOU OFFER INSURANCE COVERAGE?
Unfortunately 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. 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 a HSA 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 1/3 due up front, 1/3rd a month from purchase, and 1/3rd 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 email@example.com.
I DO NOT WISH TO PAY USING PAYPAL. ARE THERE OTHER OPTIONS FOR PAYING?
Yes, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org 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?
If you are taking ANY hormones, supplements, and/or vitamins, then please make sure to mention those on the test requisition form.
Vitamins do not have an effect on hormone levels.
Some products, which are available over-the-counter are known to affect hormone test results. Those include progesterone, pregnenolone, hydrocortisone (cortisol), DHEA, 7-Keto-DHEA (can cause falsely elevated levels of DHEA and testosterone). Note: Please stop taking 7-Keto-DHEA 3 days before sample collection.
If you are using the topical hormones, you may continue to use those but DO NOT apply to your face or neck areas for 3 days 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? (AYUMETRIX ANSWER)
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.
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. When testing cortisol (for baseline adrenal function), STOP USING CORTISOL CONTAINING PRODUCTS 5 DAYS PRIOR TO SALIVA COLLECTION
For any additional questions, please contact us at email@example.com