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HORMONE TESTING

Hormones are molecules produced by the endocrine system that send messages to various parts of the body – tissues and organs – helping it to regulate body processes

(from seemingly mundane routines like thirst, hunger, sleep and moods, right up to blood pressure, sexual desires/reproduction, growth, etcetera). Hormone testing, what is it? This is when a person’s hormone levels are checked via laboratory tests to know which of them are in short supply (or more than necessary supply) and hence has unbalanced normal body processes so it may be augmented.

UNDERSTANDING HORMONES

As mankind has developed and advanced in the various fields of the medical sciences, we have come to better understand how our body works. One of which is the fact that a lot of what our body does is initiated and regulated by hormones produced from the ever-busy factory of the endocrine system. This system quietly works behind the scenes supplying all kinds of these chemical messengers (hormones) to cause the body to function properly (as well as undergo seminal changes in a person’s lifetime). Mostly, the endocrine system does a good job at production and supplying these chemical messengers (hormones) to keep our bodies in a state of balance through its constant regulation, as well as drive the growth changes that ultimately makes us to become who we are. However, as life is replete with changes, so hormone levels change (even in a day) as life happens. Stress, diseases, work, even the food we eat can alter or disrupt the work of the endocrine system and throw its work off balance to the detriment of the human body. This is where hormone testing come in.

There are several hormone producing glands in the human body – three in the brain and seven in the rest of the body each surrounded by a network of blood vessels from which they extract ingredients to manufacture dozens of hormones. These hormones are then pumped out in tiny amounts, usually into the blood stream. As with any body system, things can go wrong with the hormones, triggering off disorders like, age and reproductive related conditions (eg. menopause), disorder of puberty and reproductive function, diabetes, hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism among others.

 WHAT HORMONE TESTING COULD REVEAL

Hormone testing for an aging woman (45 – 55years) may reveal that she is encountering reproductive hormonal related issues. This is true as they approach perimenopause or menopause and the ovaries stop producing the hormone estrogen that is responsible for the development of female secondary sexual features – the breasts and endometrium as well as regulate their menstrual cycle, etcetera. This same hormone in males (though in a comparatively small percentage) aids in sperm growth and the maintaining of a healthy libido. The absence of this hormone would result (in varying manifestations in different people) in uncomfortable experiences like vaginal dryness and irritability, night sweats, hot flashes, poor sleep and its resultant fatigue.

To help such a situation, many hormone therapy options are available to consider: bioidentical hormones, hormones from other species, synthetic hormones or a combination of hormonal products.

 The main hormones of the pancreas that affect blood glucose are insulin and glucagon. Both work hand in hand to play a critical role in the regulation of blood sugar levels. In the case where the levels of one hormone becomes lower or higher than the necessary range, blood sugar levels may soar or drop. This is best ascertained by hormone testing. A person having challenges with blood sugar levels may, upon hormone testing discover either an inability of their body to produce enough of the insulin hormone needed to regulate the sugar in their blood or the insulin produced is ineffective to do a good job. This would result in one type of diabetes or another.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been researched to improve the body’s response to insulin hence for some type of diabetes (type 2), hormone therapy will be the way to go. 

 Hypothyroidism also known as underactive thyroid is a condition where the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. This is revealed during hormone testing. This deficiency of thyroid hormones, usually seen in older women, can impede normal heart rate, body temperature and normal metabolism functionalities. Persons having this hormonal deficiency may experience inexplicable weight gain, dry skin, cold sensitivity and fatigue.

Interestingly, hormone testing (a thyroid stimulating hormone level test for example) may also tell the flipside of the story of the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland (in the neck region) now producing an overdose of thyroxine hormone, a condition known as hyperthyroidism. Symptoms of this condition include, inexplicable weight loss, rapid or irregular heartbeat, irritability and sweating.

Thyroid hormone therapy exists where synthetic thyroid hormones are employed to raise abnormally low levels of natural thyroid hormones in the body in the case of hypothyroidism. Radioactive iodine however is the most widely preferred treatment for hyperthyroidism.

As most hormones can be detected in the blood, hormone testing is usually done using blood samples to check thyroid, estrogen, testosterone and cortisol hormones. More advanced hormone testing also exists: biopsy, MRI, Xray, thyroid scan or sperm count test. In more advanced societies however, home testing kits are available for anyone experiencing hormonal imbalances. These hormonal testing kits usually uses saliva or blood from the fingertip to measure levels of hormones to be tested. Other hormone testing may require a urine sample.

 Clearly, hormones are essential in our bodily function and so is hormone testing for obvious reasons. And like Vivienne Parry is quoted: “Whatever your age or gender, whether you are petulant, spotty, forgetful, angry, or just a little out of sorts…someone is going to tell you, “It’s your hormones.”

 

REFERENCES:

https://chapelhillgynecology.com

https://www.news-medical.net 

https://care.diabetesjournals.org

https://www.healthline.org

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