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Hormone testing 

 

What is hormone testing?

 
A hormone test is a test that is used to assess and determine hormone levels in the body. Hormones are chemical messengers found in the body, and there are several of them. Just as several of these chemical messengers, there are also a wide variety of tests used to assess the different hormone levels in the blood. Hormone-related tests can also be done.
Homeostasis is a state of balance within the internal environment of the body. When in this state, your hormone levels also tend to be balanced and under control. When your body’s internal environment is altered, it deviates from balance, thereby affecting hormone levels.
 
Hormonal imbalance has a variety of causes, and it can manifest through different symptoms. Through hormone tests, this imbalance can be assessed, diagnosed and treated.
 
These chemical messengers can be classified into 3 major groups: lipid-derived hormones, peptide hormones, and amino-acid derived hormones.
 

Lipid-derived hormones 

 
These hormones are derived from High-density lipoproteins (HDL), also known as the “good” cholesterol. Hormones derived from this “good cholesterol” are easy to identify as most of their names end with either “ol” or “one”. Some examples include estradiol (Estrogen) and testosterone (androgen) which are sex hormones.
 

Amino-acid derivative 

 
These hormones are majorly derived from 2 amino-acids namely; Tyrosine and tryptophan. Most of the hormones in this category have their chemical names ending with “ine”.  An example is an adrenaline, which is quite popular and also has a variety of functions metabolism, blood circulation and more. 
 

Peptide hormones 

 
These hormones are made of and inked by peptides (which are tiny bits of protein). Some examples include oxytocin and growth hormones. Oxytocin has a role to play in parturition, breast milk production and social bonding while the growth hormone is responsible for growth.
Why do a hormone test?
 
Hormone tests are deemed highly important because they help to identify hormonal imbalances and disorders. Several factors can contribute to hormonal; imbalance, and some are
 

• Stress

• Diabetes

• Under or overweight

• Certain medications 

• Infections and allergies 

• Thyroid diseases

• Eating disorders 

• Cancer or cancer treatment 

 

When should you do a hormone test?

 
There are several symptoms associated with hormonal imbalance because hormones play a major role in the body's general health. Although this is the case for most hormones, some symptoms could be specific to a particular hormone. Symptoms indicating hormonal imbalance include. 
 

• Rapid weight gain or loss

• Abnormal heart rate

• Depression

• Infertility 

• Insomnia

• Excessive sweating and increased thirst 

• Dry skin

• Diarrhea or constipation 

• Pain or tenderness of joints, muscles etc.

• Fatigue

• Reduced sexual drive 

 
 

What goes on during the hormone test procedure?

 
 
Hormone tests are carried out using different samples depending on the hormone to be assessed. These samples could be hair follicles, blood, urine or other body fluids. Some additional tests or exams such as pelvic exams, X-ray, ultrasounds, MRI or more can be carried out depending on the symptoms you manifest and the type of hormonal test being performed.
Although, it is possible to assess hormonal home testing kits, this test kits are unable to give as much information as needed to make a diagnosis. It is recommended that you visit a medical professional or your GP for assessment and tests if you notice any symptoms that could indicate a hormonal imbalance or disorder. 
You can also make it easier if you record the symptoms you experience and the regularity of these symptoms.

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