Estrogen is of fundamental importance to many aspects of a woman's overall well-being, specifically with regard to reproductive and sexual health. Estrogen imbalances can cause grave side effects, not the least of which is a disrupted menstrual cycle, weight gain or loss, and violent mood swings. Therefore, if estrogen imbalance is suspected, estrogen tests, of which there are several common types, should be considered.
Keep reading to learn more about the different kinds of estrogen tests available, from the simple to the more advanced.
Simple Estrogen Tests
Hormones which can be tested
A simple estrogen test is the best way of determining the level of estrogen in the body. Some doctors may test for a particular type of estrogen; estradiol is the most common, but estriol and estrone can also be assessed.
Blood or urine test
The testing of specific types of estrogen such as estradiol, estriol, and estrone are more likely to be done for common symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and night sweats. For each type of estrogen, a blood or urine sample should be taken.
A low estrogen level within estradiol, estriol, and estrone should be a clear indication as to whether a woman is experiencing perimenopause or menopause. Due to the variations in the amount of estrogen present in the body during menstruation, it is suggested that samples only be taken on the third day of a woman's cycle. This is in order to eliminate any major fluxes in estrogen levels which may occur at other times; for instance, during ovulation.
A blood test is the most conventional method of detecting hormone imbalance, and it measures the hormones found in blood serum or blood plasma content. Yet, many scientists feel that this approach is not completely conclusive.
A self-test carried out at home is not able to determine if a woman is actually in menopause as it is simply a measurement of certain hormone levels. Thus, an abnormal hormone level could indicate menopause or another medical condition, so it's advisable to discuss your results with a healthcare professional.
Advanced Estrogen Tests
Many researchers argue that saliva tests are more useful than blood tests as they measure the bioavailable (free) hormone in the blood. Saliva testing is used to detect estrogen dominance as well as estrogen deficiency, among other things.
This form of testing is advantageous because it can indicate underlying conditions. It is useful in not only measuring hormone levels and ratios, but also assessing hormonal risk factors for diseases that are hormone dependent, such as breast or uterine cancer. Furthermore, saliva testing can provide insight into how to best correct estrogen imbalances through diet, exercise, and other means.
Many medical experts claim that saliva testing is more accurate and it can even be carried out at home. However, critics point out that saliva tests are more affected by environmental factors such as what the patient has been eating or drinking and whether or not she smokes. Thus, these tests are deemed less reliable than others. Medication, hormone treatments such as HRT, and contraceptive pills can also have an effect on the results of saliva tests.
Now that the most common estrogen tests have been explained, continue reading to find out about different estrogen levels and what they mean.