Do you remember the pressure of testing? Your heart pounds, your palms sweat, and that smart girl you like to cheat off is out sick. Test-taking can be stressful; so here’s an idea: Why not subject your troublesome hormones to that same pressure?
All right… your hormones might not actually be losing sleep over the exam, but testing is still a grade A idea. And if you’ve dealt with the hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and the other symptoms of menopause, the idea of gaining the upper hand in your hormone balancing efforts probably sounds pretty good.
So let’s talk about one of the best ways to do that: Hormone Testing. In particular, let’s talk about the three places in the menopause treatment journey, that testing can be one of your best weapons.
1. In The Beginning
We know the general trend of hormones during menopause. Over the course of time, estrogen levels fall significantly, and progesterone levels nearly bottom out altogether.
The hard part is that the decline doesn’t take place in a week or two. The decline of hormone levels is usually a gradual and somewhat erratic process. Every woman experiences menopause differently, with wide variations in hormone levels, age, duration, and intensity.
At the time you begin experiencing symptoms, your situation could be vastly different than the next woman. Knowing your levels is the ideal first step in treating the symptoms of menopause. When you know what’s deficient, and by how much, you can supplement and treat with confidence.
2. Honing In
Testing also helps dial in your supplementation plan. Whether you tested before beginning supplementation or not, testing your hormones in the middle of the process can be critical.
Because every woman experiences menopause differently, there is no one-size-fits-all supplement strategy. Hormone tests before treatment give you a great head start, but even with that knowledge, it may be necessary to make adjustments. That’s why testing during treatment can be so important.
If you start a course of supplementation, and don’t get the results that you’re after right away, it’s critical not to abandon it altogether. By testing again after supplementation has been given an opportunity to take effect, you can see what ways your supplementation still needs to be tweeked.
But make sure you’re not being too quick to seek adjustments in this phase. Any hormone supplement strategy should be given about a month of consistent use to gauge its effectiveness. If you still have a ways to go, testing will show you what needs adjusting.
3. Finding The Moving Target
Women are always encouraged when they start getting relief from the symptoms of menopause. It’s exciting to have a way out.
If symptoms begin to return, it can be just as powerfully disheartening. The tendency is to think that the supplements just aren’t as effective as they used to be, that your system has gotten used to them, and adjusted. But that isn’t likely to be the case with hormone supplementation.
What’s actually happening in the majority of these cases, is that hormone levels have dropped off further than before. This shouldn’t be a cause for concern, as that’s to be expected over the course of menopause.
If symptoms return, we recommend continuing the supplementation that has worked for you previously, and retesting. The new results show you what adjustments should bring back the results you’ve had.
How To Test
Many women go through their doctors to get their hormones tested. A blood sample is usually drawn to determine levels with tremendous accuracy, and versatility. Several factors, including insurance, location, and provider, however, can make the cost of this type of testing prohibitive.
For many women, it’s more convenient and affordable to use a home saliva testing kit to get their results. These kits only require you to collect a saliva sample, and send it in for analysis. This type of service is increasingly popular and affordable.
Here at Smoky Mountain Nutrition, we partner with ZRT Laboratories to provide an affordable hormone test kit for our customers.
If you do decide to go with a saliva test kit, the three most important hormone levels are pre-selected: Estriol, estradiol, and progesterone. These hormones will provide the clearest picture of menopausal hormone deficiency.