Hormone bloodwork can provide many insights into women’s health and for menopause relief. Once these tests are completed, a doctor may be able to diagnose a medical condition or provide medication recommendations that will help return the woman to a healthy balance.
Bloodwork is often done as part of a comprehensive hormone panel, in which multiple hormones are tested. This allows doctors to establish a baseline, from which they can understand the situation and connect the blood markers with symptoms.
Progesterone is one of the two key sex hormones in women. It’s responsible for maintaining the lining of the uterus and helps to maintain pregnancies. Progesterone production significantly drops during menopause. Low progesterone levels may indicate the potential for miscarriage or premature labor during pregnancy. High levels usually have no consequences, although persistently high progesterone is linked to an increased breast cancer risk. Estradiol is a type of estrogen and is the main estrogen produced by the ovaries. One of its main jobs is to help the body ovulate. This hormone is also important for the health of the breasts, uterus, and vagina. Since menopause causes estrogen levels to decline, estradiol declines as well. Low levels of estradiol and estrogen may be a sign of low body fat, anorexia, PCOS, or hypopituitarism. High levels can result in fatigue, obesity, worsened PMS, and light or heavy periods.
Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
Normal FSH levels indicate that a woman has a normal amount of eggs for her age. FSH is the hormone that helps follicles grow and mature. From these follicles, we get estrogen and progesterone, which are our key sex hormones. FSH testing can help evaluate infertility, abnormal periods, PCOS, ovarian cysts, pituitary gland tumors, and ovarian function. Abnormal levels are usually linked to a congenital defect of the pituitary gland, hypothalamus, or hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis.
LH is important during the second half of the menstrual cycle, as it is responsible for ovulation. When it’s normal during this time, it’s a sign that the ovary function is experiencing hormonal balance.
Made in the adrenal glands, cortisol affects our energy levels. It’s responsible for regulating how much glucose is released, which is our main source of fuel. Cortisol is also a stress hormone, and high levels of cortisol can lead to increased fat storage and appetite.
DHEA is an androgen, or male, a hormone that comes from the adrenal glands and ovaries. It helps with the production of other hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone. DHEA tests are usually needed for people with possible ovarian disorders, irregular periods, infertility, decreased sex drive, acne, or development of male traits.
Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
TSH is a pituitary hormone that tells the thyroid gland whether it needs to produce less or more hormones. It’s the most sensitive marker when screening for thyroid conditions, like hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Under and overactive thyroid glands cause the levels of free T4 to fluctuate. This is the main hormone that the thyroid gland releases, so it’s important for it to have normal levels of production.
Also produced by the thyroid gland, free T3 is another hormone that can fluctuate if an individual has an under or overactive thyroid gland.
When testosterone is bound to protein in our blood, it’s referred to as free testosterone. It’s the biologically active version of the hormone and is produced in women’s ovaries as well as in the adrenal cortex. When we measure free testosterone, we’re looking to see how much is bioavailable, or available for the body to use.
Hormone blood testing can reveal a lot about a person. While normal levels are ideal, bloodwork can reveal where potential problems are arising. This will help your doctor treat you, so you can get back to a healthy lifestyle. Whether you’re in menopause and looking for menopause relief, or you have other symptoms that you need to address, hormonal bloodwork can be the start of the path to health.