Hormone Testing vs. Saliva Hormone Testing – which option to choose?
Menopause is marked by hormonal changes that can lead to various symptoms and health implications. Two commonly used methods for hormone testing in menopause are serum hormone testing and saliva hormone testing. There are advantages and disadvantages associated with each of these methods.
Serum Hormone Testing:
Serum hormone testing involves analysing hormone levels in blood samples. It is commonly used in clinical settings for diagnosing menopause and assessing hormone levels. Benefits of serum hormone testing include:
Widespread Clinical Use: Serum hormone testing is a widely accepted and established method employed in Australian medical practices, making it readily accessible and familiar to healthcare professionals.
Comprehensive Hormone Assessment: Blood samples offer a comprehensive analysis of multiple hormones, including the regulatory hormones follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH). Rising FSH levels are often one of the first indicators of approaching menopause or diminishing ovarian reserve, and thus together with oestradiol and progesterone, provide a comprehensive picture of hormonal changes associated with menopause. LH and FSH levels cannot be tested via saliva samples.
Established Reference Ranges: Serum hormone testing has established reference ranges, making it easier to interpret results and identify deviations from normal levels.
Saliva Hormone Testing:
Saliva hormone testing involves measuring hormone levels in saliva samples. Although less commonly used in clinical settings, saliva testing offers specific advantages:
Non-Invasive and Easy Sampling: Saliva collection is non-invasive and can be done at home, which increases convenience for patients. It eliminates the need for a blood draw, making it appealing to individuals uncomfortable with needles.
Reflects Active Hormone Levels: Saliva hormone testing measures the levels of unbound, biologically active hormones. This can have advantages as it provides insights into the hormones readily available for physiological functions.
Hormonal Balance Evaluation: Saliva testing allows for assessment of the balance between hormones, such as the ratio of oestradiol to progesterone. This can provide additional insights into hormonal imbalances contributing to menopausal symptoms.
Which method is right for me?
Several studies have compared serum hormone testing and saliva hormone. While both methods offer benefits, research suggests that serum hormone testing is generally more accurate for women in menopause due to its established reference ranges and comprehensive assessment of multiple hormones. However, saliva hormone testing may be useful in certain cases, such as assessment of menopausal symptoms, or managing dosage of Hormone Replacement Therapy.
It is important to note that when a woman suspects she’s in perimenopause, it is an important time to have a complete medical examination by a qualified healthcare professional. The diagnosis of perimenopause can usually be made by reviewing a woman’s medical history, her menstrual history, and her signs and symptoms. Hormone testing is only one part of this picture and should not be used in isolation to diagnose perimenopause.