Throughout all phases of their lives, women are affected by the constantly changing levels of their female sex hormones.
These alterations may be normal or abnormal and can have an impact on a young woman’s secondary sexual characteristics development, pregnancy and infertility problems, menstrual cycling and associated diseases, perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms and cardiovascular and bone health.
Saliva hormone testing is easy to perform, and it is usually the first step in testing and clearly understanding the reason for a variety of women’s health problems.
Saliva testing is a non-invasive and simple method of calibrating female hormones, which offers benefits over conventional blood testing as an imbalance testing method for female hormones.
Saliva testing is a simple, needle-free method to measure women’s sex hormones for diagnosing a hormonal imbalance at any stage of a woman’s life. Image Credit: Tecan
A lifetime of hormonal changes
The chemicals secreted by glands are called hormones. They pass through the bloodstream to work on different organs across the body.
Women's sex hormones can have a broad range of effects, which include mood, energy levels, weight, reproduction, sexuality and more. A little addition or reduction of any one hormone can lead to a hormonal imbalance, causing different symptoms.
Hormone testing could be a practical way forward if symptoms suggest hormonal imbalance at any phase of a woman’s life.
It is rather easy to quantify the main female hormones levels and identify if the levels fall within the so-called “normal range.” Assessment should also identify whether the hormones are present in the right ratios to each other.
To test developmental problems and map the menstrual cycle of a woman, hormone imbalance testing is beneficial. It can also aid in detecting the reason for infertility.
In addition, it can help identify whether a woman is in menopause or perimenopause and whether she may benefit from hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or an adjustment to ongoing HRT.
Hormone testing must include the identification of main female sex hormone levels: estriol, estradiol, estrone and progesterone. Hormone level and accompanying normal range for each hormone tested are provided by the conducting laboratory.
What hormones should be tested?
Most of a woman’s estrogen is produced in the ovaries. The physical changes occurring at puberty, including the initiation of menstruation, are driven by this hormone.
Estrogen also helps in regulating the menstrual cycle, aids in fertility, helps regulate cholesterol, safeguards bone health and impacts the heart, brain and other tissues.
The body might make a lot of or little estrogen, and women may take in estrogen through HRT or birth control pills.
Three main types of estrogen are made by the body:
A) Estradiol: In female reproduction, this hormone plays a significant role. Throughout menstruation, levels of estradiol increase, leading to the maturation and egg release, followed by the thickening of the uterine lining to prepare for implantation of the fertilized egg. As women age, and especially during their menopause, estradiol levels decrease.
B) Estriol: This hormone is a mild-acting, positive form of estrogen, which is measured to help in hormone replacement therapy in women going through menopause.
C) Estrone: This is a type of estrogen that is produced by the ovaries and is found in higher levels in postmenopausal women. However, its role is not entirely understood. There is a possibility that low estrone levels may be associated with osteoporosis and menopausal symptoms’ development, as these are linked with very little of the estrogen hormone.
After ovulation, during the second half of the menstrual cycle, a woman’s body produces corpus luteum — a temporary gland. This gland produces progesterone that prepares the uterine lining for the likelihood of pregnancy. It leads to the thickening of the lining, thereby preventing muscle contractions.
During pregnancy, the blood supply to the uterus is constantly supported by progesterone. Women with low levels of progesterone might have irregular menstrual cycles, challenges in conceiving, or even be at increased risk of pre-term delivery or miscarriage.
Advantages of saliva hormone testing
Saliva contains women’s hormones; hence using an immunoassay-based saliva test kit for diagnosis provides a valuable needle-free substitute for hormone testing.
Using saliva-based testing with ready-to-go immunoassays that measure the hormone levels in saliva is not only painless but is also minimally invasive for the patient compared to conventional testing approaches that need to draw blood.
Traditional hormonal testing for menstrual cycle mapping or infertility usually requires blood samples to be acquired repeatedly, which can cause stress and require multiple clinic or physician’s office visits for the patients.
On the contrary, the collection of saliva can be performed painlessly and discreetly at the patient’s comfort, either in the clinic or at home with a saliva hormone test that can be ordered online.
At-home sample collection is easy and safe. After the sample is collected, the patient just has to mail the sample to the lab for further processing.
There is another significant advantage of saliva testing over blood-based testing. Women’s hormones are steroids, and these steroids circulate in the blood bound to carrier proteins, eventually making them unavailable to cells and metabolically inactive.
Only a tiny amount of unbound, free, bioactive hormone exists in the blood, which can enter cells and affect cell function. Saliva tests, unlike standard blood tests, measure the levels of unbound hormones that are biologically active.
For measuring hormones in saliva, immunoassays are extremely sensitive and can notice even the slightest levels of bioactive hormones that exist in saliva.
To collect an appropriate sample, saliva collection devices have been optimized. After being received by the diagnostic lab, the samples of saliva can be processed quickly either manually or with the help of automated instrumentation, which can further decrease turnaround times and enhance the reliability of the results.
Patients get their test results along with a report showing the normal range for each hormone, as recognized by the particular laboratory.
The accessibility of more effective and convenient immunoassays and sample collection methods to allow saliva testing to determine hormone imbalance is a huge step forward for women’s healthcare.
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They hold a leading position in all the sectors they work in and have changed the way things are done in research and development labs around the world. In diagnostics, for instance, they have raised the bar when it comes to the reproducibility and throughput of testing.
In under four decades Tecan has grown from a Swiss family business to a brand that is well established on the global stage of life sciences. From pioneering days on a farm to the leading role our business assumes today – empowering research, diagnostics and many applied markets around the world
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