The female body produces many different hormones, but certain types have a bigger role to play in the body's health and well-being. When your hormones are in proper balance they help the body thrive, but small problems with hormones can cause serious and life-altering symptoms. Specifically imbalances of sex hormones, thyroid hormones and adrenal hormones, as well as insulin resistance are common problems that can contribute to a host of chronic health issues.
Hormone imbalances are often evident with PCOS, and may be associated with irregular menstrual cycles, infertility, lack of ovulation, and hyperandrogenism (resulting from high levels of testosterone).
High levels commonly seen in polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which can lead to difficulties in conceiving. Symptoms can include irregular periods, loss of hair from the head, excess facial and body hair, unexplained weight gain and acne.
Most testosterone is strongly bound to sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). This test measures the proportion of unbound testosterone which is available to the body's tissues.
Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) is a protein that binds tightly to testosterone and oestradiol. Changes in SHBG levels can affect the amount of hormone that is available to be used by the body's tissues.
Too much oestradiol (oestrogen) is linked to acne, constipation, loss of sex drive, depression, weight gain, PMS, period pain, and thyroid dysfunction. The effects of low oestradiol are evident in menopause and include mood swings, vaginal dryness, hot flashes, night sweats and osteoporosis.
The sex hormone produced mainly in the ovaries following ovulation and is a crucial part of the menstrual cycle. Progesterone helps to combat PMS and period pain issues, assists fertility and promotes calmness and quality of sleep.
Governs the menstrual cycle, peaking before ovulation. Raised LH can signal that you are not ovulating, are menopausal or that your hormones are not in balance (as with polycystic ovaries).
Stimulates the ovary to mature an egg. High levels indicate poor ovarian reserves which means the quality and quantity of eggs may be low. This doesn’t necessarily mean that pregnancy is impossible, but it may be more difficult to achieve.
Normally this ratio is about 1:1 meaning FSH and LH levels in the blood are similar. In women with polycystic ovaries the LH to FSH ratio is often higher e.g. 2:1 or even 3:1
High levels inhibit secretion of FSH and interfere with ovulation, and can also inhibit the production of progesterone which is needed to prepare the lining of the uterus for implantation of an embryo.
Insulin resistance is a common feature of women with PCOS. High levels of insulin can lead to increased testosterone production, as well as metabolic issues such as weight gain, increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular risk.
A hormone produced by the pancreas that helps to control blood glucose levels and plays a role in controlling the levels of carbohydrates and fats stored in the body.
Polycystic ovaries are often a feature of hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid), and similarly thyroid disorders are more common in women with PCOS.
Communicates with the thyroid gland to produce T3 and T4 which regulate metabolic functions. High TSH thyroid test levels indicates an underactive thyroid, and low levels an overactive thyroid.
Measures the thyroxine that is freely circulating and able to regulate metabolism. High FT4 thyroid test levels indicate an overactive thyroid, and low levels an underactive thyroid.
Measures the triiodothyronine that is freely circulating. High FT3 thyroid test levels indicate an overactive thyroid, and low levels an underactive thyroid.
An excess of testosterone produced by the ovaries is typically the main source of elevated androgens seen with PCOS, however 20-30% of women with PCOS have an excess of androgens that originates from the adrenal glands. This adrenal androgen excess can be detected by measuring DHEA-S levels - a mildly elevated DHEA-S level is common in women with PCOS.
The cortisol test measures 'the stress hormone' cortisol which mobilises the body’s nutritional resources in stressful situations. Prolonged elevation of cortisol can cause fatigue, immune dysfunction, and impact sex hormones.
A long-acting adrenal hormone which regulates energy production, the immune system, brain chemistry, bone formation, muscle tone and libido. DHEA-S is converted by the body into testosterone and other sex hormones.
Download and print your pathology form from your i-screen dashboard.
Take test 7 days before predicted date of menstruation (if known). If menstrual cycle is 28 days, test on day 21 (where day 1 is the first day of bleeding).
Fast from all food and drink other than water for at least 8 hours, and no more than 12 hours prior to your test.
Take your form to your local collection centre to have your blood sample taken - no need for an appointment.