Although there is no substitute for sitting down and discussing your medical history, symptoms, and concerns with your gynecologic health care provider, hormone testing can be helpful when the pattern of symptoms is confusing. Serum (blood) testing of hormones is the gold standard for testing, and is the only form of hormone testing recommended by the Endocrine Society, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the North American Menopause Society. This testing is provided at Chapel Hill Women’s Medicine through Quest Diagnostics.
Another form of hormone testing that has become popular is salivary hormone testing. Although there has been a great deal of interest in this, saliva testing for female hormones can be misleading and inaccurate. Using the best scientific evidence, it has not been validated for use in treating patients. For this reason, saliva testing is not provided at Chapel Hill Women’s Medicine and results of previous saliva testing are not used in managing hormone therapy.
It is important to realize that there are limitations with any form of hormone testing. A set of laboratory results provides a “snapshot” of a woman’s hormone profile on the day that the blood specimen is obtained, but these values must be considered as just one piece of evidence in evaluating the complex set of symptoms affecting the individual woman. Women are much more than the sum total of their hormone levels. There are many other factors to consider, including diet, physical activity, and lifestyle, that help to put these laboratory values into the broader context of the woman as a complete and unique individual.