Hormones have such a powerful effect on your body that they can influence things like weight, energy levels, mood, sex drive, and more. Hormone levels can thus reveal a lot about your overall wellness, and checking a variety of hormones can give you more specific insights into your body’s well-being.
And that’s exactly why EverlyWell’s Women’s Health Test can be informative for a woman at any stage of life: it measures more than 10 hormones involved in reproductive health, weight, energy, and more.
Here’s a breakdown of the hormones this test checks, what they do in your body, and symptoms of hormone levels that may be out of balance.
Estradiol – the main type of estrogen – supports the functions of female sex organs like the vagina, uterus, and breasts. Estradiol plays an important role in ovulation (release of an egg from an ovary) during the menstrual cycle. If your estradiol levels are normal, then there is a good chance ovulation has taken place during the month of your sample collection.
Low levels of estradiol – which often occur during and after menopause – can result in menstrual irregularities, vaginal dryness, and reduced bone strength. If estradiol levels climb too high, you might experience bloating, breast tenderness, mood swings, headaches, weight gain, and sleep disturbance. Estradiol levels that remain chronically high can also increase the risk of serious conditions like breast or uterine cancer.
Progesterone is also important for regulating menstrual cycles. It’s also a top “pregnancy hormone” because it causes the uterine lining to thicken in preparation for a fertilized egg. The right level of progesterone is thus essential for a successful pregnancy.
If progesterone levels fall too low, you may have irregular bleeding during your menstrual cycle, your cycles might become more spaced apart, or you might not have any menstrual cycle at all. Miscarriage and ovulation problems are a couple other possible consequences of low progesterone, as well as headaches, hot flashes, mood changes, and reduced libido.
And if your progesterone levels are too high? You might experience vaginal dryness, mood changes, and fatigue.
The pituitary gland, a part of the brain, releases varying amounts of luteinizing hormone (LH) throughout the menstrual cycle. LH helps control the menstrual cycle. A surge in LH levels in the middle of your cycle triggers ovulation (egg release), and LH levels typically drop after ovulation.
Low amounts of LH suggest that your pituitary gland might be malfunctioning. Higher-than-normal LH levels – when seen with high FSH levels – can be a sign of ovarian failure (which can result in infertility ). Another common cause of elevated LH can be a syndrome known as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome – or PCOS.
Follicle-stimulating hormone, or FSH, prepares ovarian follicles (which house the ovary’s eggs) for ovulation. FSH levels tend to increase as egg quantity decreases throughout your life.
There are several causes for low FSH. Your pituitary gland might not be working well if your FSH is low. High levels of FSH suggest that your ovaries don’t have very many eggs left. If high FSH levels occur alongside high LH levels, your ovaries may have stopped working normally – and may indicate that there are very few eggs remaining and you may be nearing menopause.
Your adrenal glands and ovaries make DHEA, which is then quickly converted to DHEAS. DHEAS helps your body produce other hormones – like testosterone and estrogen. DHEAS is also important for sustaining a healthy amount of muscle mass.
DHEAS levels that are too low can result in chronic fatigue, low libido, and mood changes. High DHEAS levels – often accompanied by acne, infertility, an absence of a menstrual cycle, or increased body and facial hair – can be a sign of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or other problems with the adrenal glands.
Testosterone helps control your body’s muscle-making and fat-burning activities, as well as other aspects of metabolism. EverlyWell’s Women’s Health Test measures free testosterone as opposed to total testosterone.
Testosterone levels need to fall within a normal range – not too high or too low – for optimal wellness. When testosterone gets too low, you might experience thinning hair, dry skin, mood changes, and – over the long-term – sexual dysfunction and bone loss.
What about too much testosterone? In this case, you might experience acne, menstrual irregularities, and hair growth in parts of your body that hair normally doesn’t grow. Over time, too much testosterone in a woman can contribute to diabetes, obesity, infertility, and more.
Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” because it aids in the fight-or-flight response. It provides the body with energy by controlling how much sugar your body burns for fuel. Well-balanced cortisol levels help you fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning.
When cortisol levels are too low, you’re more likely to be fatigued, have a loss of appetite (as well as weight loss), and sexual dysfunction. Too much cortisol can result in an irregular menstrual cycle, acne, weight gain, headaches, mood changes, and a hard time concentrating.
The thyroid gland pumps two hormones into your bloodstream: T3 and T4. These thyroid hormones are extremely important to the body because they regulate key functions like metabolism and body temperature. They also help support normal menstrual cycles.
An underfunctioning thyroid gland – a condition known as hypothyroidism – can cause low thyroid hormone levels. Women are 10x more likely to get hypothyroidism compared to men. A low amount of thyroid hormones can produce symptoms like weight gain, menstrual cycle irregularities, hair loss, constipation, and feeling cold.
If thyroid hormone levels get too high, your heart might beat faster, you may have a hard time sleeping, and you may feel more restless or nervous – among other symptoms, like weight loss and thinning hair.
The thyroid gland releases hormones that control many of the body’s functions, such as metabolism (as mentioned above). Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which also comes from the pituitary gland in our brains, regulates the amount of hormones the thyroid makes.
Abnormal TSH levels suggest that the thyroid is releasing too many or too few hormones – which can harm a woman’s fertility. Signs of a TSH imbalance include anxiety, trouble sleeping, weight loss or gain, fatigue, and an irregular menstrual cycle.
Thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOab) are a kind of antibody. The immune system uses antibodies to eliminate germs that invade your body. TPOab, however, can attack your thyroid gland – hurting or destroying its function – if your immune system malfunctions (this is known as an autoimmune disease).
Elevated amounts of TPOab – along with low thyroid hormone levels – can mean that your thyroid gland isn’t working well because of an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s disease. Weight gain, an irregular menstrual cycle, fatigue, and hair loss are all clues that an autoimmune condition might be hurting your thyroid gland.
An excellent starting point for understanding how hormone imbalances might be affecting your wellness, EverlyWell’s at-home Women’s Health Test can give you the insights you need to help your body and feel great.
Because it measures a lot of different hormones – at different points in your cycle – this test lets you check in on many aspects of your health (like weight, energy, and reproductive and sexual health). So it can help you discover areas of your health that might deserve more attention (from you and/or your doctor) – as well as give you peace of mind in other areas.
(You can do the entire testing process from the comfort of home. After you’ve mailed your samples to the lab for analysis – a prepaid shipping label comes with this kit – you’ll receive your results online.)