What You Can Learn From Getting Your Hormones Tested
Although we usually associate them with puberty, pregnancy, and periods, hormones really do run the show when it comes to your body. The messengers of your endocrine system also help maintain your mental health, regulate your energy levels, metabolism, and so much more. They might seem like these elusive little things, but understanding your hormone health can give you key insights into your health and how to feel your best. Luckily modern medicine has given us many great tools we can use to learn more about our hormones and health.
One of those tools is hormone testing. Getting your hormones tested is important if you’re experiencing certain symptoms and health issues, but it can also give you key insights about how to optimize your health and feel your best all-around. Wondering what you can learn from getting your hormones tested? Let’s find out.
What Are Hormones?
Just as a quick refresher, let’s take a look at what hormones are, so you can understand why it’s important to get them tested. Hormones are chemical messengers in the body that travel through the bloodstream to tissues and organs, telling them what needs to get done. Along with reproduction and sexual function, hormones maintain sleep, mood, and cognition, metabolism, body temperature, and almost every other process in the body. The hormones are the messengers that are being sent by the glands of your endocrine system. Glands like your thyroid, pancreas, adrenal glands, ovaries, and testes. Just like any system in the body, your hormones can get out of whack sometimes.
What Hormones Can Test For
Understanding your hormones and whether or not they’re out of balance gives you the ability to take steps to regulate them so that you can feel your best. What sort of things can you learn from getting your hormones tested? The possibilities are endless!
The thyroid is a small gland in the lower part of the front of your neck that helps regulate metabolism, energy levels, heart rate, development, and body temperature. When the thyroid is out of balance with either high (hypothyroidism) or low levels (hyperthyroidism), it can make it difficult to carry on with everyday life. Sometimes this is due to an autoimmune condition like Hashimoto’s or Graves’ Disease. Since cis-women and people assigned female at birth are five to eight times more likely than men to develop a thyroid condition, if you’re feeling a little off, it can be incredibly helpful to get your hormones tested to see if your thyroid is to blame.
One of the most common things we associate hormones with is pregnancy. So it makes sense to get your hormones tested if you’ve had difficulty conceiving or if you’re hoping to get pregnant. The main hormone test that helps determine fertility is a follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) test. This hormone tells your ovaries to release an egg each month during ovulation. FSH tests can also tell you about how close you are to menopause or if you may have an issue with your ovaries. Some other hormones they can test to gauge ovulation and fertility are progesterone and luteinizing hormone (LH).
Sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone definitely influence fertility, but they also regulate many other processes like libido, bone and muscle growth, inflammatory responses, cholesterol, and fat distribution. Although testosterone is usually associated with male bodied people, it is one of the hormones that is often tested for women. Low testosterone levels in women can interfere with FSH and fertility, libido, and blood cell production. While all hormone levels fluctuate throughout your life and your menstrual cycle, hormone testing for sex hormones can help give you insights into any fertility issues, weight management, menstrual problems, hair growth, and many other health issues.
Other Health Changes
There are so many hormones in your body, all with special and necessary jobs. Another hormone that is commonly tested for is dehydroepiandrosterone, DHEA. This is a precursor hormone that is converted by the body into other hormones like testosterone and estradiol – the strongest of the three estrogens. DHEA irregularities can lead to PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome, PCOS, cancer, and in rare cases – Addison’s disease.
Signs You Should Get Your Hormones Tested
It’s a great idea to get your hormones tested even if you’re in tip top shape, mainly because it’s another tool you can use to learn about your body and how to optimize it. There are some symptoms that we live for so long that we don’t realize may be due to a hormonal imbalance, ones that are often treatable.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it may be time to get your hormones tested:
- Regular fatigue or low energy
- Mental health imbalances like depression and moodiness
- Anxiety or nervousness
- Low libido
- Irregular periods, painful periods
- Fertility issues
Ready to get your hormones tested? Many of these can be ordered by your primary care provider, or a specialist, especially if you’re experiencing any related symptoms. If you’re not able to get labs through your doctor, you may want to seek out a functional medicine doctor who can run these labs for you. There are also quite a few online services where you can easily get your hormones tested like EverlyWell and Parsley Health.
What are you waiting for? Get out there and get your hormones tested so that you can learn more about your body.
Natasha (she/her) is a full-spectrum doula and health+wellness copywriter. Her work focuses on deconstructing the shame, stigma, and barriers people carry around birth, sex, health, and beyond, to help people navigate through their lives with more education and empowerment. You can connect with Natasha on IG @natasha.s.weiss.