Friday, October 23, 2009

Saliva Hormone Testing

Many women would like to know the status of their sex hormones in the blood. Are the numbers too high or too low? Your hormones are always tested on a regular basis to determine if your bioidentical hormone prescription is adequate for your needs. Today, clinical laboratories can perform the test but the measurement of sex hormones in the blood is expensive and takes time.

In the mean time, some other laboratories have started to offer saliva hormone tests. Laboratories have flourished all over the country offering this cheap saliva hormone test. Many of these laboratories claim that the saliva hormone testing is a more accurate and a reliable way of checking for hormones in the body. The hormones checked by the saliva test include estradiol, progesterone, DHEA and testosterone.

The principle of saliva hormone testing is based on the principle that free circulating hormones in the blood stream enter the saliva and the levels are measurable and correlate with levels in the blood. Many of these laboratories claim that blood testing of hormones is not specific because it can not tell which is the free hormone and which is the bound hormone (conjugated hormone).

There are many companies which have kits which one can buy. The saliva is then placed in a vial and sent back to the laboratory. There is no doubt that the saliva home test is reliable and stress free. There are no needles and no need for obtaining blood. The hormones are stable in saliva for up to 3 weeks and can be shipped without problem back to the laboratory

The laboratories have a standard range of levels to which your numbers are compared.

A saliva hormone test offers one the ability to track the progress of hormones at different times and determine if the your bioidentical hormones are sufficient for you.. The saliva hormone test does not require a physician’s prescription. The results are sent back by mail or email. Most experts indicate that saliva hormone tests should be performed 1-3 times a year.

The cost of the saliva hormones tests are variable but generally start around $150 or about $50 to measure each hormone. Saliva hormone tests are not covered by Medicare or any private medical insurance.

Final word: while there is no doubt that checking for hormones in saliva is easier and less stressful; there is a concern that many laboratories have no quality control. The FDA has emphasized that many laboratories that perform saliva hormone testing are unreliable. One should remember that there are many studies which have shown that testing for hormones in saliva has never been reliable nor been consistent. And the results obtained do not always correlate with what is seen in the blood.

So before you get you hormones measured for natural hormone replacement therapy with bioidentical hormones, check out the reliability of the laboratory and ask how they compare the results. If you have doubts discuss the issue with your physician and get a referral to a reputable laboratory.

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