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  • Writer's pictureLiz Riesen, RD

"Are At-Home Hormone Tests Reliable?"

If you're wondering if at-home hormone test kits are reliable or worth the hype, let's jump into my own personal results and protocol. I have used DUTCH Hormone Testing for years, personally and in my practice. Below I share my personal test results, before and after a six month protocol, as well as what I did to help address hormone imbalances.



What Makes a Hormone Test Reliable?


The hormone testing market is heavily saturated with online companies and products. This is why it's important to not only look into the company, but also work with a licensed practitioner to read your results and create a personalized treatment plan.


Precision Analytical is the laboratory that offers the DUTCH Hormone Testing that I use in my practice. They have extensively validated testing and taken additional steps to get their data published in reputable, peer-reviewed journals.


They have published abstracts with groups like NAMS (North American Menopause Society), ASRM (American Society of Reproductive Medicine). The published data shows clinical correlation for testing.


When choosing a reputable and reliable hormone test, you want to look for peer-reviewed, published data that solidifies claims made by the company.


Below are my personal results from the DUTCH Complete Hormone Panel, before and after my six month protocol (which I share as well)




Hormone Test Results


When is the best time to test hormones?


I typically test my hormones at least once per year to identify any areas I can better support and address imbalances before symptoms build up. With the DUTCH panel, we want to look at post-ovulation so testing around days 19-21 if you have a regular monthly cycle.


If you don't have a regular monthly cycle, you're menopausal or post-menopausal - no worries!

This panel is meant to help identify and address areas of hormonal imbalance. Here's directions on when to collect your sample.


In the results below, I tested in July 2023 (postpartum) and then again six months later in February 2024.



Hormone Test At-Home


I am in no way blessed with a good genes, in terms of hormones, risk of obesity, and chronic disease. I've flipped this for the better though, by knowing my own challenges allow me to be a better practitioner in women's health - I'm in the trenches with you!


In July (postpartum) I was not surprised to see my body was back to its usual shenanigans - producing WAY too many hormones. I was also oddly happy to see my adrenals were a perfect example of Stage 2 HPA Dysfunction.

For those of you who have worked with me in my FHB program, you are aware of how difficult it can be to identify stage 2 dysfunction, as it is our body's natural adaption phase and symptoms can be minimized.


However, identifying Stage 2 HPA Dysfunction is extremely important because, if not addressed and supported --> you'll fall down into stage 3 and this is difficult to get out of.


Okay, let's dive into what my results (and 6 month regimen) looked like!


On the left (or first image) are my results from July 2023. On the right (second image) are my results from February 2024. I'll admit, it's a little odd prescribing and following your own advice (but I'm glad I did!)



Estrogen Dominance and High Testosterone


Let's dive into the hormones that were out of balance and the protocol I created for myself and followed for six months before testing again.


Testosterone


I have adrenal PCOS, so I will likely always need to support androgen balance. In past hormone testing, I had high DHEAS (another androgen). However, in July my DHEAS was normal and instead I had high testosterone levels.

  • I added saw palmetto supplement that had pumpkin seed oil (rich in zinc) and nettles to my regimen. This was added to help decrease and manage my testosterone production.

  • I drank 2 cups green tea daily (EGCG antioxidant) and added Reishi mushroom, which both help to push metabolism into a weaker pathway.


Estrogen


Ohhh what a love/hate relationship we have :) In the past I've had poor estrogen metabolism along with high production. I was happy to see my estrogen metabolism was in a great range, but once again my production of estradiol (E2) and estrone (E1) were too high.

  • I added 1-2 cups cruciferous veggies daily and during the luteal phase of my cycle I add broccoli sprouts (10x more sulforaphane than mature broccoli). Here's a quick video of how easy it is to grow your own broccoli sprouts.

  • Thanks to genetic testing, I know I have slow COMT metabolism, which is phase 2 estrogen metabolism. Because of this, I added a supplement that supports all three phases of estrogen metabolism with DIM, I3C, and Calcium D-Glucarate.

  • I made sure my fiber intake was 30 grams daily and incorporated 1-2 tbsp. flaxseed to provide a gentle phytoestrogen to compete for receptors. Most people think you should avoid phytoestrogens if you have high estrogen production, but they can actually help reduce estrogen dominant symptoms and support metabolism.

  • Although I didn't do based on these results, it's worth it to mention that in January I followed a detox protocol (which I do every year) which has a positive effect on hormones, metabolism, and detox.



Now here's a look at my adrenal hormones.


I have adrenal PCOS, which means my adrenals have a history of outputting too much cortisol and DHEA (turns into androgen DHEA-S). Over the years I have worked to balance DHEA production and have cut that level in half! Which is great, but you can see how even cutting this level in half I'm at the top range of normal.


Cortisol is another story...


Cortisol

Although my cortisol production is within a normal range, the fan below is showing metabolism of that cortisol. With the fan being all the way to the left, it's indicating that my body is deactivating cortisol quickly - this is the sign that I am in stage 2 HPA dysfunction.

  • I added a blend of adaptogen herbs and amino acids (supplement form) that I took twice daily to support stress response and cortisol production.

  • I made sure to eat every 3-4 hours to keep blood sugar stable and I kept a consistent low-moderate carb intake. Insulin and cortisol will feed off one another, so you need to make sure to support both.

  • I allowed myself to rest (as often as I could with two toddlers at home) since HPA dysfunction occurs when our body is overwhelmed. Self-care is tough and it's something I need to consciously add to my day.


Circadian Rhythm

The graphs at the bottom show cortisol production throughout the day. Pay attention to the graph on the right, as this is the active cortisol pattern. This pattern follows our circadian rhythm.


Cortisol starts being produced before we wake in the morning and we want to see a spike within the first two hours of waking - this is called our cortisol awakening response (CAR). I'm not showing much of a "awakening" response, so I need to add circadian training.

  • I created a relaxing evening routine that I looked forward to. I go to bed around the same time and wake up around the same time - to help my body match the circadian rhythm.

  • I wait 1-2 hours after waking before having coffee, so that I don't disrupt my body's natural cortisol production. I also keep caffeine to less than 300 mg daily.

  • Daily consistent movement is always important, but I need to avoid strenuous aerobic exercise, as this will exert too much stress on the body - requiring a big dose of cortisol which it's not able to accommodate right now. I'm doing plenty of walks and yoga for strength and stretching/circulation.

  • I'll be continuing adaptogen herbs along with magnesium to support stress, but I will adjust the blend of herbs to slowly move my body out of stage 2 dysfunction.



My adrenals are improving, but there's still a lot of work I need to do and I know stress is always going to be an area that I need to prioritize in my life. Having little ones at home, running a household, and running a business is not an easy stage of life - and I recognize that. My mantra, "I'm doing the best that I can."



How to Order Your Own Hormone Test Panel


The hormone test panel I use is called DUTCH Complete. There is a TON of information that we get from this panel; I only showed a small glimpse of my results above because I didn't want to overload you with info.


The DUTCH Complete tests over 35 hormones, metabolites, and organic acids. It's an easy dried urine collection you complete at home. You'll collect 4-5 samples over the course of 24-hours. It's just like taking a pregnancy test! Let the strips dry and then send back to the lab in the prepaid shipping envelope.


You can order your own panel here and if you'd like more information and a sample report, you can email me "Hormone Testing" at info@lizriesen.com


You can also read more about DUTCH Testing on Precision Analytical's website.




woman smiling with coffee cup

Liz Riesen, Registered Dietitian

works specifically with women's hormones, inflammation, and digestive health. Often these conditions coexist and share common disruptive symptoms including bloating, weight gain, anxiety, mood swings, irregular cycles, and other inflammatory symptoms.


Liz is trained in identifying and healing food sensitivities, as well as balancing hormones naturally through nutrition and lifestyle. Follow me @moms.hormone.dietitian 

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