Lab companies can test for thousands of levels in your body, but when it comes to testing for hormones specifically it can be confusing to determine which levels should be included.
Not only does having a comprehensive lab panel provide you with insight as to what is going on inside your body, but it can also help your Provider determine if you need hormone medication.
Typically, hormone panels can vary. But, there are a few key levels that should be present in every lab test in order to get an accurate look at your hormone levels.
Estradiol, a form of estrogen, is usually thought of as a “female” hormone; however, this level can also be helpful to test for in men.
Estradiol is one of the key indicators for women that they might be experiencing menopause or a hormone imbalance. On the other hand, estradiol levels in men might provide insight into certain side effects that come with using hormone medication.
Progesterone is another key female sex hormone, and one that can be used to determine if someone is a candidate for hormone medications. Abnormal levels might indicate that a female patient could benefit from Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).
Testosterone Free & Total
Perhaps the most important level to test for in a hormone panel. There are usually two types of testosterone on a lab panel: free and total. Both are helpful indicators for determining if someone has a hormone imbalance.
For both men and women, low testosterone can generally produce feelings of fatigue, low sex drive, weight gain, and more uncomfortable symptoms.
Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG)
SHBG is another helpful level, because it determines how much of each hormone your body is actually receiving. This level can be especially useful when evaluating testosterone levels, because it plays a key role in controlling how much testosterone your body uses.
Beyond Hormones…Should I Be Tested For Anything Else?
It’s always a good idea to have a lab test for levels beyond just the key sex hormones in the body. For example, general health markers as well as other endocrine levels are important to include if you are looking to start hormone medications.
A complete metabolic panel looks at glucose levels, electrolytes, and liver & kidney function. Including this test in your hormone panel can help your Provider get an overall picture of your health and determine if there are any risks to using hormone medications.
Complete Blood Count
While it is important to look at the metabolic levels in your body, it is also crucial to look at your blood count. A CBC panel can help detect various conditions such as anemia, liver issues, infections, and more.
Thyroid & IGF-1
Although not always a requirement, sometimes including Thyroid & IGF-1 levels can help your Provider narrow down medications that might be specific to your body.
For example, abnormal levels might indicate a need for specific thyroid medication or growth hormone stimulating medications like peptides.
All lab panels are different, and these levels are not the only ones to include in a comprehensive test. However, knowing what to look for & ask for can help you advocate for yourself when it comes to starting hormone medication.