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There are many reasons for one to get a hormone test. Perhaps you have been displaying symptoms of hormonal imbalance. Maybe you just got pregnant, for instance. You could just want the information to maintain the proper homeostasis for your body. Whatever your reason to get a hormone test, it is a good one. Hormones are very important to regulating our bodies, day in and day out. They are needed to keep us at our best and bring us back when we are at our worst. Men and women both can get a hormone test to make sure they are at their optimal levels.
Your hormone levels are as individual as your fingerprint. No two people have the same exact levels and therefore it is important when getting a hormone test that the medical professional has experience. There are several main hormones that get tested and they all play integral parts in our lives. The main hormones tested are estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and cortisol. These five hormones contain a lot of information about you including deficiencies, excesses, and daily patterns. For example, cortisol levels differ throughout the day, they are normally higher in the morning and dwindle at night.
When getting a hormone test for estrogen you are actually getting a hormone test of the three estrogens; estradiol, estriol, and estrone. Men and women both produce estrogens. Estradiol is the type of estrogen tested in women who are not pregnant and the levels will vary during a menstrual cycle. Estriol is normally only measured during pregnancy because that is when those levels are highest and will continue to rise throughout the pregnancy. Estrone is measured in women who have gone through menopause or in men and women who might have cancer in their ovaries, testicles or adrenal glands.
You may need to get a progesterone hormone test for infertility or for tracking ovulation. Progesterone is produced in high levels during pregnancy, starting during the first trimester and continuing until the baby is born. Getting a hormone test for progesterone may also help assess the risk of a miscarriage. It may also help diagnose problems with your adrenal glands and some types of cancer in both men and women.
Testosterone is very important to men and women. Though the level of this hormone is much smaller in women than men it still plays an important role. It affects the brain, sexual functioning, genital tissues, and your energy levels, among other things. Testosterone may affect a man’s ability to have a baby which is one of the reasons why a man might choose this hormone test. He might also be losing his sex drive which is linked to testosterone. High levels of testosterone in a woman might cause her to take on male attributes such as facial hair. Getting a testosterone hormone test might also help find the cause of osteoporosis in men. DHEA is linked to testosterone so often times the two hormones are linked in their tests. DHEA levels can be linked to delayed puberty, Cushing’s Disease (a type of Cushing’s Syndrome), and adrenal gland tumors.
You may need to get a hormone test for cortisol if there is a potential problem with your pituitary gland. This could be either making too much or making too little. Adrenal fatigue happens when your body is not making enough cortisol because it has been in a high stress situation for too long. Cortisol levels change through the day and they are highest in the morning. The changing levels of cortisol are very important and if your cortisol levels maintain a high level it is known as Cushing’s Syndrome. If your doctor thinks that you are producing too much they would perform the test later in the day, if they don’t think you’re making enough the test will happen in the morning. Either way, you will likely be asked to avoid too much activity the day before.
A hormone test can be very beneficial and tell you and your doctor a lot about your body. Most people know very little about their hormone levels and wait too long before getting a hormone test. My advice? Don’t wait. Give us a call at (703) 379-7110. Or if you prefer, fill out our getting started form and we'll get in touch.
Board certified in Internal Medicine and Nephrology, Dr. Terlinsky has over 25 years of active clinical experience. »
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