Hormones are powerful chemical messengers, secreted directly into the bloodstream through the endocrine system and transported to various organs and tissues throughout the body. These all important communicators help regulate nearly every function and process necessary for living including metabolism, sleep, mood, immune function, and heart health. Hormones can even affect physical appearance as they act on our skin, muscles, and hair in different ways. If even one hormone level is too high or too low, the trickle down effect to other hormones and systems within the body can wreak havoc with health and wellness.
You Can’t Treat What You Don’t Know
A comprehensive analysis of hormone levels is critical for both men and women to help identify a possible hormone imbalance within the body.
Thyroid hormones regulate all cells within the body at the most basic level. Functions including metabolism, emotional regulation, and even our very thought processes all rely on thyroid hormones for proper response.
Various proteins affect thyroid function as well. Testing proteins helps detect dysfunction in the thyroid. This includes tests for antibodies (to the thyroid) which may help determine if an autoimmune condition, where the body’s own immune system attacks healthy thyroid tissue exists. Levels of cortisol, the stress hormone are tested as well.
Comprehensive Hormonal Balance Testing
A comprehensive male or female hormone panel paints an entire picture of the state of hormones for both men and women. A hormone imbalance in one area consequently affects other hormones as well.
Finding out where you stand is critical for continued health and wellness.
Possible Symptoms of a Hormone Imbalance
When hormones are not properly balanced, specific symptoms may occur including:
- Decreased energy levels
- Blood pressure issues
- Sleep disturbances
- Immune function:
- Autoimmune conditions
- Blood sugar control
- Osteoporosis (bone density)
Hormone panels test the following:
Sex (Steroid) Hormones
DHEAS (Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate)—Produced by the adrenal glands, DHEAS is essentially bioavailable DHEA. This is a precursor to the other sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen. DHEA aids in insulin sensitivity, improves cognitive function, helps prevent cancer, boosts immunity, and supports bone health.
Androstenedione—This is a precursor hormone to testosterone and estrogens as well. Levels of androstenedione work in concert with testosterone, as both hormones affect each other.
Testosterone—This androgen hormone not only increases libido, builds muscle mass, enhances bone health, but fosters feelings of strength and well being.
Estradiol (E2)—This estrogen hormone is the strongest of the estrogens and helps the body in a number of ways. These include blood vessel protection, an increase in HDL (good cholesterol), prevention from bone loss, improved cognitive function and immune response and increased collagen production. Estradiol must be properly balanced with progesterone however, to protect against estrogen dominance and the possibility of breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer.
Estrone (E1)—Estrone has been linked to possible estrogen dominant conditions including endometriosis, fibrocystic breasts, and uterine fibroids. Depending on the nutritional status of an individual, growth and reproductive reactions may be either beneficial or harmful to the body.
Estriol, unconjugated (E3)—Estriol is a weaker estrogen that helps counter the negative effects of possible uterine, breast, and ovarian cancers, partially created by stronger estrogens. Estriol levels increase considerably during pregnancy.
Progesterone—This very important hormone helps to balance estrogen’s effects on breasts, the uterus, the brain and skin. Progesterone also helps with the formation of bones and is responsible in part for a calming mood in individuals. It is considered a precursor to other sex hormones and cortisol and works in conjunction with other hormones to control metabolic functions.
Regulatory (Peptide) Hormones
Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)—This regulatory hormone is responsible for a number of functions including stimulating estrogen production in women, and initiating sperm production in men. It is also an important facilitator of follicular growth in female ovaries.
Luteinizing hormone (LH)—This hormone works together with FSH and drives ovulation in women and sperm production in men. Prolactin levels also directly affect luteinizing hormone.
Prolactin (PRL)—Prolactin is referred to as an inhibitory hormone because it effectively “inhibits” other hormones from acting on the body. Prolactin stimulates the production of milk in nursing mothers and regulates the metabolism of calcium. It further helps synthesize nerve cells and prostaglandins (lipid compounds) in both sexes.
Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG)—This hormone is created in the liver and regulated by other hormones. Estrogens and testosterone are bound by sex hormone binding globulin when in the bloodstream, rendering them inactive biologically.
Free T3 (Free Triiodothyronine)—The more potent and biologically active, T3 helps control the growth and metabolism functions within the body.
Free T4 (Free Thyroxine)—While referred to as a precursor hormone, T4 gets converted to T3 based on the body’s cellular demand for the hormone. Levels of T4 are often greater than T3.
Total T4 (Total Thyroxine)—While the majority of T4 binds to carrier proteins in the blood, rendering it biologically inactive, Total T4 combines free, unbound T4 with T4 bound to proteins.
rT3-Reverse T3 (Reverse Triiodothyronine)—Reverse T3 suppresses T3 as it slows metabolic processes and renders T3 inactive within the body. The production of rT3, as it relates to T3 increases with stress and the presence of high cortisol levels, nutrient deficiencies, inflammation or specific pharmaceuticals.
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)—Created by the pituitary gland, TSH helps regulate the thyroid gland in relation to production of T4 (or the conversion to T3) as levels within the bloodstream fluctuate.
Anti-Tg (Antibodies to Thyroglobulin)—High levels of this precursor hormone to T4 often indicate the presence of an auto-immune response as the immune system fights the body it is designed to protect.
Anti-TPO (Antibodies to Thyroperoxidase)—This enzyme controls the production of T4. Antibodies to TPO indicate the body is attacking its own proteins in the blood (TPO). Anti-TPO individuals are prone to hypothyroidism.
Tg (Thyroglobulin)—TG helps the body store iodine, necessary for the production of thyroid hormones T3 and T4. Tests should be conducted over a significant period of time and are sometimes a tumor marker for patients with previous thyroid cancer.
TBG (Thyroid Binding Globulin)—TBG is considered a carrier protein for T4 and T3 hormones. In order to keep free T4 levels constant, the thyroid gland responds to varying levels of TBG. Testing TBG levels is beneficial when T4 levels do not correlate with specific clinical symptoms. TBG is often affected by prescription drugs and can help identify reasons for abnormal thyroid levels.
Because hormones help regulate nearly every function in the body, testing for hormone imbalances is critical for proper diagnosis and treatment of many endocrine-related medical conditions. You may wish to order hormone testing yourself and share your results with a doctor, or have a medical practitioner explore testing for you.