Updated: Feb 10
Well, you don't have much choice to be honest, we've all got them. Hormones are here to stay. But if your hormones are out of balance it can result in a huge range of symptoms and conditions, from premenstrual tension, irritability and mood swings, weight gain, food cravings, fluctuating energy levels, peri-menopausal / menopausal issues (such as weight gain round the middle, brain fog, depression, anxiety), hair growing where it shouldn't, PCOS, endometriosis, fatigue, low libido, fertility issues, prostate cancer, hair loss, breast cancer and so much more.
Any of this sound familiar? Do you have a familial history of hormone-related conditions? Our hormones travel around the body in our blood, delivering important messages to the endocrine glands. But unfortunately, hormone imbalances don't always show up on the standard blood tests. There’s a special offer on at one of the testing labs until the end of March, offering a free DNA Oestrogen test when you book a DUTCH hormone test. But, what are these tests? Why do a DUTCH test? Why do a DNA oestrogen test for that matter?
Nothing to do with the low countries, DUTCH stands for Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones. It’s a non-invasive test that looks at sex and adrenal hormones and their metabolites. Non-invasive because it uses saliva and urine samples, taken throughout the day. So super easy to collect.
As you probably know the main female hormones are oestrogen and progesterone and testosterone:
Oestrogen comes in 3 “varieties” in the body: E1 (estrone), E2 (estradiol), E3 (estriol). Of these 3, estradiol is the most “potent” or active biologically. The levels of these hormones will be of interest if you experiencing such issues as painful periods, pre-menstrual syndrome, mood swings, etc. Men also have oestrogen (it's SO much more than a female fertility hormone - it's important for bone health, heart function, and so much more).
The test also looks at oestrogen metabolites. Once oestrogen has been “used” by the cells it must be “detoxed” by the liver in a 2 phase process. If these 2 phases are not working as they should then we can end up with reactive metabolites hanging around in our bodies, and these can be potentially harmful. Assessing these metabolites could highlight cancer risk, or risk of a negative reaction to hormone medication such as HRT or the birth control pill (not detoxing oestrogen properly carries a blood clot risk).
Progesterone is the hormone which predominates in the luteal phase, or second half of the cycle after ovulation. Some call it the hormone of pregnancy (pro-gest-ation, see?). Too low levels can be linked to spotting, or miscarriage in the first trimester. It’s also linked to shortened female ovulatory cycles.
Testosterone is important for males and females both; lowered levels can result in lowered libido, energy and drive. The test also looks at the metabolites of testosterone.
The test also looks at DHEA-S, one of the most commonly circulating hormones in the body, it’s made in the adrenals. It’s a precursor to the male AND female sex hormones testosterone and oestrogen, but it’s made in the ADRENALS. Having too much of this can be indicative of inflammation in the body, or potentially of PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome).
The DUTCH “plus” includes tests for cortisol and cortisone, the adrenal stress hormones. This test gives a good indication of whether your adrenals are over-firing – in other words your HPA-axis (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis) is working overtime. In can also indicate when the reverse is happening – i.e. the adrenals are feeling a little worn out, and there is not sufficient reaction from them when called upon by the HPA feedback loop.
What about the gene test?
Remember above, the bit about the detoxing of the oestrogen? Well, that’s where this test comes into its own. Each stage of that detoxification process is undertaken by a range of enzymes in a 2-phase process. To simplify, each enzyme action is “switched on” or “switched off” by our genes. If you have a SNP (or single nucleotide polymorphism, commonly known as a “SNiP”) this means you have a “glitch” and one of these enzymes will not work, or will not work as well for you. So, if you have a “glitch” in the enzymes that detoxify used-up oestrogen, then those oestrogen metabolites are effectively hanging around in the body when they shouldn’t be. This is potentially harmful – if you do have these SNiPs then you may want to reconsider whether the HRT or the birth control pill is really for you. Or, you may want to take measures to protect yourself from potential cancer in the future.
If you are struggling with any kind of hormone issue then this is the test for you. Book through my practice and I will interpret the test for you and work out a full personal nutrition plan that addresses any and all issues highlighted in the test. Book a FREE nutrition discovery call (“Is nutritional therapy for me?”) on the “book online” page of my website to get going.
Here's to hormones.