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Hormonal Testing

How to test specific hormones if you suspect they’re out of balance.

Cortisol

Because cortisol imbalance is more about the timing of the hormone’s release than the amount of it in your bloodstream, experts consider saliva tests to be the best measure. Samples can be collected at home over the course of a day; they show when the hormone peaks and falls. In a healthy pattern, cortisol levels are highest in the morning and gradually diminish throughout the day.

Cortisol saliva tests can be ordered by a licensed healthcare practitioner or through direct-to-consumer labs. Prices start around $200.

Insulin

A simple blood test can offer a snapshot of your insulin levels. For more detailed information, ask your healthcare provider to test fasting blood sugar at the same time. To measure the effects of a new food protocol on your insulin levels, take a hemoglobin A1c test, which measures blood sugar over the previous three months. Both tests can be ordered by your doctor or through direct-to-consumer labs and are typically $35 to $40.

Estrogen

Estrogen levels can be measured in blood, saliva, or urine. Saliva tests can be collected at home over the course of a month, which gives a far more accurate picture of estrogen status than a one-time blood draw. Urine tests can be helpful to evaluate how well the body is eliminating estrogen. A doctor can test blood and urine levels and give you a take-home saliva test. These tests are also sold by direct-to-consumer labs. For 30-day home-collection kits, prices start around $300. Blood tests cost around $80.

Testosterone

Testosterone can be tested with blood or saliva. Order a test through your doctor, or purchase it from a direct-to-consumer retailer. Prices start around $50.

This originally appeared as “Hormonal Harmony” in the September 2018 print issue of Experience Life.

Illustration by: James Yang

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