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Hormones | Blood or Saliva Testing?

From the Menopause and Hormones Articles List

Woman talking to her doctor about which is better for accurately determining hormone levels, saliva or blood testing? Which is better for accurately determining hormone levels, saliva or blood testing?

There can be a lot of controversy associated with hormone testing. Some medical professionals prefer one method while others prefer the other. Additionally, one test may not be better than the other in all circumstances, and each test has its own advantages and disadvantages.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) states that saliva testing may not offer accurate results because of the significant number of variables involved. Hormone levels in saliva can be affected by the time of day, a woman’s diet, hormones being used, and other variables. Some insurance companies consider saliva testing for hormones to be experimental, thus they do not cover the cost of the test. Conversely, saliva testing can be done in the comfort of your own home which allows you to avoid the cost of a doctor’s visit. You can also more easily do multiple tests when using saliva. Promoters of saliva testing indicate that it can test hormones at the cellular level. They also state that it can test a variety of hormones accurately.

On the other hand, blood testing needs to be ordered by a physician and is often kept to a minimum to minimize risks. It is, however, usually paid for by your insurance company. A blood test can also provide accurate values for circulating hormone levels as well as in their free form. Typically, only Estradiol levels are checked with a blood test, though Estrone levels may be available as well. Blood testing may be useful when determining if you are absorbing your hormones while using hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The ACOG, Endocrine Society, and North American Menopause Society all endorse blood testing for hormones.

Rather than rely solely on a test for hormone levels, some doctors and women find it is better to diagnose and treat based on symptoms. Regardless of test results, each woman may feel differently even with the same hormone levels. Thus, test results may be most helpful when using them to confirm symptoms or when symptoms are confusing. Rather than rely on testing, it might be better to keep a detailed symptom diary that you share with your medical team.

If you need to have your hormone levels checked for a specific reason, talk to your doctor about which test s/he feels is best for you. You may also want to seek a second opinion from someone who specializes in treating hormones. Because hormones levels can change do due a variety of factors, a single test of any kind may not offer the most accurate picture for you.

This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.

10-12-2013 - 06:00 PM


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