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Hormonal Testing methods and why it matters

Today's health care practitioners face the challenge of helping patients cope with hormone imbalance. Whether that’s women suffering from hot flashes and night sweats or men troubled by symptoms of low testosterone, accurate testing is the best way to make sure hormone dosing is optimal. The most common test for assessing hormone levels is called the serum total testosterone test. This test measures the amount of testosterone in a person's blood. The normal range for testosterone levels in men is between 300 and 1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). For women, the normal range is between 15 and 70 ng/dL. However, it's important to note that these ranges can vary depending on a person's age and health status. Furthermore, recent research has suggested that the standard reference ranges for serum testosterone may not be applicable to all populations. As a result, it's important to work with a qualified health care practitioner to interpret test results accurately. It’s important to understand that the type of testing used to assess hormone levels can have a significant impact on the clinical usefulness of the results. For instance, if you’re measuring with the wrong method, tissue uptake of supplemented hormone may not be accurately reflected in test results – leading to inappropriate dosing. That’s why it’s so important to match the type of testing with the type of supplementation. By doing so, you can be sure that you’re getting accurate information that can be used to make decisions about hormone replacement therapy. With the right approach, you can ensure that your patients receive the treatment they need to improve their health and well-being.

There are many factors to consider when interpreting hormone testing results – including the type of hormone being measured, the type of test being used, and the patient’s unique physiology. However, one of the most important factors is the type of supplementation that the patient is using. If the wrong type of supplement is being used, it can lead to inaccurate results. For example, if a patient is taking an oral supplement but the test is measuring levels in the blood, the results may not accurately reflect tissue uptake of the hormone. In order to get accurate results, it is essential to match the type of testing with the type of supplementation. By doing so, clinicians can ensure that they are getting an accurate picture of hormone levels in the body and making treatment decisions based on accurate information.

ZRT laboratories compares serum versus blood thus: While testing endogenous hormones in serum or blood spot reveals the same levels, assessing topical hormone supplementation with serum testing grossly underestimates the amount of hormone being delivered to tissues. Blood spot tests blood in the capillary beds (arterial/venous/lymphatic) from the finger, and thus better reflects tissue hormone levels. Because serum testing only assesses the unbound fraction of serum testosterone, most of which is bound to SHBG, it cannot be used to determine the bioavailable or "free" testosterone levels in tissues. Free testosterone is the active form of testosterone and is responsible for the majority of its tissue effects. Topical testosterone products are designed to increase free testosterone levels in tissues; however, serum testing cannot adequately assess this increase. Blood spot testing for testosterone can be used to assess tissue levels of free testosterone after topical application and may be a more accurate reflection of testosterone levels available to tissues. When serum hormone testing is conducted to assess the level of hormones in the body, the results may not be accurate if the individual is using topical hormone supplementation. This is because serum testing only measures the hormones in the blood, while blood spot testing also measures the hormones in the capillary beds. Topical hormone supplementation can deliver a higher concentration of hormones to tissues than what would be present in the serum, and thus serum testing would grossly underestimate the amount of hormone being delivered to tissues. Blood spot testing is a more accurate method of assessing hormone levels in individuals who are using topical hormone supplementation.

Serum testing versus saliva testing. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that saliva testing may be a more accurate way to measure the levels of hormones in the body than serum testing. This is because serum levels do not necessarily reflect the amount of hormone that is actually available to the tissues, while saliva levels do. This is because serum levels measure the total amount of hormone in the blood, including both the protein-bound and bioavailable fractions. However, only the bioavailable fraction of hormone can diffuse into tissues and be used by the body. By contrast, saliva levels reflect the actual amount of hormone that is available to tissues. This makes saliva testing a more accurate way to assess the effects of topical hormone supplementation than serum testing.