And hormone related problems aren’t always obvious like irregular periods, in fact female hormones can be responsible for:
And all of these can be affected by your current health, stress levels, what you eat and lifestyle choices, so issues can change depending on how well you’re looking after your body (though issues aren’t always in our control).
When I was given the chance to test Thriva’s new female hormone test I jumped at the chance. My hormonal history is, colourful, shall we say.
As I mentioned I didn’t have periods for years due to low body weight. I was also on a strong birth control pill for acne for too long during my teens. I don’t think the guidelines around it were clear enough back then (we’re talking nearly 20 years ago) and manipulating my body’s own hormonal rhythm for that long, in hindsight, wasn’t great, or so a reproductive endocrinologist (fertility doctor) once told me. The acne in the first place could have been a sign of issues, however common that is in teenagers.
I got pregnant eventually despite no periods (so clearly something was happening inside), but ‘regular’ periods didn’t return until after I’d finished breastfeeding my second child, at the age of 32! Now they’re every 2 months ish, not painful like they were in my teens, but incredibly heavy (sorry for the TMI but it’s relevant right?).
Plus recently I’ve been getting hot flushes and even visited the doc for a bout of spotting, and it’s highly likely due to my health history I may go into early menopause one day, so I’m wary of the signs.
I guess I’m so incredibly lucky to have my little girls right? I never forget that. They’re my little miracles.
The Thriva Female Hormones Baseline Test checks to see if the key female hormones are in the normal range. The test is analysed by doctors in labs, and you get emailed your results, with any advice as to what to do next, if necessary.
I took Thriva’s ‘Lifestyle Test’ a while back and was incredibly impressed with the process. http://www.thefitmumformula.com/blog/thriva-home-health-test-review/ (check it’s still called that?)
FSH (Follicle-stimulating hormone): This helps your ovaries to function normally and plays a key role in egg production and ovulation. If your FSH levels are imbalanced you might have trouble getting pregnant. Or high FSH levels can be a sign that you’re menopausal. Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) is a hormone produced by your pituitary gland. FSH stimulates your ovaries to produce oestradiol.
LH (Luteinising Hormone): Plays a key role in reproduction. Mid-cycle, your LH levels increase which triggers your ovaries to release an egg — ovulation. If your LH levels are imbalanced you might have irregular periods and have trouble getting pregnant. Or high LH levels can be a sign that you’re menopausal.
E2 (Oestradiol): Oestradiol is a type of oestrogen and is the main female sex hormone. E2 is essential for egg production, protects you against bone loss, and helps regulate your cholesterol levels. Your E2 levels fall as you age so low levels can be a sign that you’re menopausal. If your E2 levels are imbalanced it can cause a wide range of symptoms like irregular periods, hot flashes, fatigue, headaches, sleep problems, anxiety, depression, low sex drive, and worse premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Prolactin: This is a hormone that’s important for your reproductive health and for milk production after childbirth. If your prolactin levels are imbalanced you might have irregular periods and have trouble getting pregnant. You might also have breast discharge.
SHBG (Sex hormone-binding globulin): Binds with certain hormones and transports them in your blood. When these hormones are bound to SHBG your body can’t use them. This helps regulate how much is available for your body to use. If your SHBG levels are imbalanced it can cause either high or low levels of testosterone and oestradiol.
Testosterone: While testosterone is usually considered a “male” hormone, it’s essential for women too (you just produce it in much lower amounts). It helps control your sex drive, hormones that affect your period, and reproduction. It also plays a role in red blood cell production and muscle and bone strength. Men with low testosterone might feel tired, have a low sex drive, gain weight, feel depressed and have low self-esteem. Women might also experience these symptoms but it’s harder to detect low testosterone as women’s hormones fluctuate a lot.
Thyroid Profile: The thyroid produces hormones that control your body’s growth and metabolism. An overactive or underactive thyroid causes hormonal imbalances that can cause symptoms like weight gain or loss, tiredness, low mood, anxiety, depression and difficulty sleeping. A basic thyroid profile measures Thyroxine (T4), the main hormone produced by your thyroid, and Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), a hormone that regulates your thyroid.
The test needs to be taken on say 3 of your period. This already flagged up there may be issues as I’d just had a period, meaning I’d be waiting at least 6 weeks until I could take it, but wait I did.
The test is really simple to do, just follow the instructions in the pack. It is a good idea to have warm hands as this helps blood flow (and for this test an almost full vial is needed), but I’m difficult to get blood out of for tests and even I managed it.
Then you fill out a couple of short forms and pop the pack in a regular post box, no stamp needed.
Amazingly despite my health history and only 1 period every 6 weeks ish everything is normal, and I don’t need to take any further action. This is actually a relief for many reasons, one of which being early menopause would be problematic in terms of bone density, and also the horror stories I’ve heard about menopause! Definitely something I want to delay as much as possible (not that it’s much in my hands, but anyway…)
I did receive some advice to help PMS symptoms though:
Reducing sugar, caffeine, and alcohol has been seen to help improve PMS symptoms for some
people. A Mediterranean diet, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep has also been shown to be
beneficial. However, the evidence is still limited.
There’s also a menopause test if you think you might be going through the menopause.
A couple of points to note; you can’t do the test if you’re pregnant, on hormonal contraception, or not having periods at all, as the results won’t be accurate. If you’re not having periods you could try the menopause test to see if that’s the reason, or see a specialist.