Saliva Testing For Steroid Hormones in 2020 | How it Stacks Up?

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Have you Heard of Salivary Hormone Testing?

People are often surprised to hear that Saliva is commonly used for testing hormone balance, with a proven track record. They need convincing which is fair enough, so we thought it would be a good idea to Blog about it.

In this Post we take a look at both the advantages, and disadvantages of saliva for hormone testing and what has changed since it’s humble beginnings 50 years ago.

Ultimately, people want to know .. How Saliva stacks up against Blood for Hormone Testing in 2020

We also explore some of the Saliva Collection Schedules which we hope may help you in your decision making. This is important because our health is important. Hormones impact numerous aspects of both our physical and mental well being.

Saliva Testing for Hormone Levels – A Brief History

First we shall begin with a brief history of salivary testing for hormones.

Evidence of saliva being used for testing human biological samples goes back to as early as 1836 when it was used in the detection and treatment of bronchitis

The use of saliva for testing hormones began in the late 1960’s. Since then saliva testing has evolved thanks to the ongoing commitment of scientists and research laboratories within the industry.

Saliva or Serum for Testing Hormones?

laboratory hormone testing

Excellent question. Before we look at practical benefits using saliva for steroid hormone testing, let’s take a look at the technical.  How does saliva stack up against serum [blood] for testing steroid hormones in the body?

The answer is, it stacks up well. In fact it is now considered superior to serum [blood] testing. The primary reason for that is results represent the non-protein bound, ‘free’, fraction of hormones at a given point of time.

Steroid hormones are predominantly bound to carrier proteins such as cortisol binding protein, steroid hormone binding globulin and albumin in the blood. Only the non-bound  fraction, [which is believed to be more readily available to the cells] is measured using salivary hormone testing.

hormone synthesis flow chart
Our bodies hormone production line

It is the ‘free’ hormone component which best represents a person’s hormonally-related signs or symptoms, rather than total hormone levels which is most often measured in serum. 

Advantages of Saliva over Serum for Testing and Tracking Hormones:

  • Saliva reflects the free, [bio] available hormone levels (unlike blood which measures total levels)
  • Baseline hormone levels can be assessed and bio-identical hormone replacement therapy can be easily monitored and adjusted
  • Testing is suitable for both men and women
  • Simple, painless, non-invasive, economical and can be collected at home
  • Specimens are sent directly to the laboratory without special handling
  • Multiple saliva collections can be taken over a day or a number of weeks
  • Hormones are stable in saliva at room temperature for transportation
  • Transport to laboratory by overnight courier from anywhere in Australia

Disadvantages of using Saliva for testing hormones levels

  • Potential for contamination via blood in the saliva
  • Saliva sample collection can be confusing for some people
  • Possible confusion regarding test time for the patient
  • People suffering from saliva gland ailments experience difficulty producing saliva
  • Saliva has not the additional broad spectrum of uses as does serum

The outcome is actually not black and white but even better ! Both specimen types have strengths and weaknesses and there are advantages to each. We encourage people to do their own research to verify or refute the claims made above.

Read on if you wish to know more about hormone testing using saliva… 

Saliva is Convenience – Explained 

hormone test kit delivery

Not everyone performs their hormone test at the same time. This could be due to workout schedule or checking your sleep patterns (melatonin) which is often late at night – a time when most pathology clinics would be closed. By using saliva, we are not bound by a clinics’ opening hour constraints. 

Examples of Saliva Collection Schedules;

      • Checking hormone balance for peace of mind every 3-6 months 
      • Collecting saliva samples at 4 points during a single day i.e. cortisol testing
      • Collecting saliva samples on specific days of the menstrual cycle i.e fertility hormone mapping
      • Collecting saliva samples at 2/3/4 week intervals when training for an event i.e testosterone, DHEAs
      • Collecting saliva samples at both midnight and 06:00hrs when observing sleep hormone behaviour i.e. melatonin production
      • Menstrual cycle mapping –  28 day observation includes up to 15 samples collected

And to perform these tests, we could visit a clinic each time we need to provide a sample. That may be 4 times over a single day – No way !

Saliva is also ideal for tracking hormones at multiple points over a period of time. By tracking hormones, i.e. observing the hormone level at various time points, we obtain a broader view of the hormones output, trajectory and ultimate hormone health.

A good example of a test being suited to saliva is the Cortisol Awakening Response aka; CAR test.

saliva hormone collection tubes

Multi point Saliva test example – Cortisol Awakening Response

This is an established test used worldwide. The CAR test provides an easy measure of the reactivity capacity of the HPA axis.

The aim is to measure the expected rise and fall of cortisol in the morning. Soon after waking, a sharp 38–75% (average 50%) increase in cortisol production occurs in approximately 77% of the [otherwise healthy] Australian population.

example saliva test collection
Examples; The larger the test the more suited it is to at-home convenience

This 3 point [CAR] cortisol test will measure the bodies preparedness for the day ahead.

Sample collection: Testing commences immediately upon awaking. Usually requiring 3 saliva collections over 90 minutes, staying relaxed is advised of course. For these two reasons alone it makes practical sense to perform this cortisol test at home.

In Summary:

Whilst Saliva has not the wide range of uses serum has, for the purpose of testing the sex hormones it ranks in first place. That’s  in terms of convenience. but more importantly, the results obtained are considered more relevant for stated purposes.

E.g. fertility hormone testing, fitness hormone tracking, menopause onset observation and adrenocortex stress response systems.

TMH® – Who Are They?

TestMyHormones is part of the Viamed Australia LTD group, established in Sydney in 2012. It’s purpose is to streamline access to affordable and reliable hormone balance tests, which when used correctly, can improve various aspects of our overall health and quality of life. 

If after reading about the advantages of saliva for testing the steroid hormones you are considering checking your own hormone balance, take a look at testMYhormones®

  • We provide a unique advantage over other similar hormone testing services. How? read on..
  • TMH® covers the entire country, so it doesn’t matter where you reside.
  • TMH® is an efficient post to post saliva hormone testing service. 
  • We believe strongly that having the ability to choose the time of day you wish to perform the tests, and being able to perform that test in the comfortable surroundings of your home is what the people want. 
There are No Out-of-Bounds Areas.

Quality hormone balance testing kits are more accessible than ever. From Cairns to Melbourne, Byron Bay to Pine Gap, and from Broome to Carnarvon and Launceston to Darwin, testMYhormones® has you covered. 

Simply visit testMYhormones.com.au – and leave the rest to us

This original and sourced post was bought to you by TMH®.

“Spreading hormone health awareness is our Aim.”

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