When your car starts chugging and making strange noises, after maybe tinkering with it and having a look at the engine, you will probably take it to the mechanics for a proper assessment.
The same thing happens in menopause, we might start chugging and making strange noises too. Only our chugging is the hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, weight gain and migraines but we also need someone to take a look at our ‘engine’.
Whilst diet, exercise and lifestyle will all make a massive difference sometimes we need more specific and focused management. One of the ways we can find our what is going on with our hormones and therefore what we can do about it is through testing.
There are several types of testing you can do.
These are considered the ‘gold standard’. That means that they are an established form of assessment that is recognised by GPs and medical practitioners and in NZ are FREE.
You can also order them yourself (https://mytests.labtests.co.nz/) and pay if you do not wish to go through your GP or your GP refuses to test. Tests range from $15 – 79 each or $173.50 in total. In NZ you can be tested for progesterone, oestradiol, testosterone plus luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicular stimulating hormone (FSH).
The main problem with blood tests is that they only offer a snapshot i.e. what your hormones are doing on the day of the test (this is important because oestrogen is like a rollercoaster during perimenopause) and only show hormones in your blood system. They also require you to visit a lab and get blood using needles which for many people is invasive and uncomfortable.
The great thing about blood tests is that they are affordable and quick. This is particularly important because they are testing for that small moment in time. This gives you the opportunity to make changes to your diet and lifestyle and then you can easily retest to see if there is improvement. Blood tests are also important for diagnosis of conditions which only a doctor can do. We do recommend blood tests on our 12 week programme if we feel they are necessary.
These tests analyse the hormones that have been excreted in your urine and also the metabolites. Metabolites are the breakdown products of the hormones which can have a huge impact on hormonal health and balance. For example, 2-hydroxy-oestrogen is a metabolite of oestrogen which is considered a healthy metabolite to have. 4-hydroxy-oestrogen and 16-hydroxy-oestrogen are 2 metabolites that have been associated with oestrogen sensitive cancers and it has been recommended that reducing the circulating levels of these metabolites have the potential to lower the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women (1).
At Hormone Empowerment, we use the Eve Test. This test analyses 8 markers of key sex hormones covering progesterone, oestrogen, testosterone and androgens. It also includes metabolites for oestrogen and androgens including the ones discussed above.
This is a non-invasive test that is taken at home and posted for analysis.
The drawbacks with this test is that it is costly – $249 (which includes a full report including supplement prescription, diet and lifestyle recommendations and a recipe book) from the company that produced the test – Eve Health Ltd. It is important to know that it is also not recognised by the medical establishment. It can also take anywhere between 4 – 6 weeks to get your results back (by which time your hormones could have changed due to diet and lifestyle interventions).
The DUTCH test (Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones) analyses 47 markers including melatonin (sleep) and cortisol (stress) which hugely impact hormonal balance and feeling well. Whilst the DUTCH test is a well known and well established international urine test it is still not recognised by the medical establishment (although that is changing). The test also takes 4-6 weeks to get the results and can only be ordered by a naturopath or other health practitioner. The biggest drawback to the DUTCH test is the cost – approximately $460 for the test plus the health practitioner needs to analyse the results which can be an added cost.
We decided to choose the Eve Test rather than the DUTCH test because of the cost.
Consumer magazine published an article about the Eve Test in 2019 which makes interesting reading. They claimed that:
- The prescription of supplements was unnecessary and shouldn’t have been recommended as the Eve Test doesn’t test for nutrient deficiencies
This is absolutely true. The Eve Test only tests for hormones. The point missing here is that nutrients are required to produce hormones for example B6 and Vitamin C are both required for progesterone production. Iodine plays a role in oestrogen balance. Zinc increases FSH. Fibre, zinc and several B vitamins are required for the detoxification of oestrogen. So whilst the Eve Test doesn’t test for nutrients the recommendations for nutrients in the form of supplements comes from the knowledge of how hormone balance is influenced by specific nutrients.
We acknowledge that Eve Health Ltd’s partner company is Be Pure and they produce the supplements that are recommended. At Hormone Empowerment, we would only recommend supplements based on the Eve Test results, symptoms and information from your health evaluation and your nutritional analysis. At the end of the day the choice is always yours and we will always give you a range of options and price.
- Hormones levels should never be taken in isolation and need to be interpreted alongside the patient’s history and symptoms.
This is why we offer this test as part of our VIP programme as it includes a health evaluation and full support from Sarah who is a degree qualified naturopath and nutritionist.
If you wish to purchase the test without participating in the programme you can but we strongly recommend you also reach out for further support from us as you will only be getting one piece of the jigsaw puzzle.
One of the other ways of ‘testing’ your hormones is by learning how to chart your cycle which will give you an insight into your oestrogen and progesterone levels, whether you are ovulating and when you are fertile. This is a technique we teach on our 12 week programme.
If you want to know more about testing please email us at [email protected]