Lab Tests for Women to Evaluate Health and Hormone Balance

Are you confused about which lab tests you need at your medical appointments? As a woman, it can be so difficult to know which tests are the right ones to help you evaluate your health. Unfortunately, many providers don’t offer much clarity on this subject either, for various reasons.

Because I was once in this exact position of not feeling well but unsure what to test, I want to make sure you have the answers you need to get to the bottom of any symptoms you’re experiencing. Getting the right lab tests can help you to not only take care of troublesome symptoms, but target the underlying imbalance at the root, also known as root cause medicine or functional medicine.

Evaluating health and hormone balance with lab testing is a vital aspect of functional medicine, which takes a holistic approach to understanding how various systems in the body interact. Comprehensive lab testing can provide valuable insights into your health status, hormone levels, and potential imbalances.

Below you’ll find which tests can help you, what they reveal, and answers to common questions.

1. Comprehensive Blood Panel

This is one of the more basic tests you can ask your doctor to run. A blood tests typically includes lipid profiles, hbA1c, hemoglobin, ferritin, liver function tests, and kidney function tests. These tests facilitate a better understanding of the nutrients your body needs and whether your body is processing them correctly or not. It’s a good place to start to see if anything is out of balance and provide direction for further evaluation.

Cost: $100 – $500+

At-Home Option: No (Usually requires a blood draw)

Method of Collection: Blood draw at your doctor’s office

What It Reveals:

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC): Measures red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, providing insights into overall health and potential infections.
  • Metabolic Panel: Evaluates glucose levels, kidney function, electrolyte balance, and liver health.
  • Lipid Profile: Assesses cholesterol levels and risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
  • Thyroid Function Tests: Measures thyroid hormones (T3, T4) and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) to assess thyroid health.
  • Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c): Reflects average blood sugar levels over the past few months, indicating risk for diabetes.

2. Hormone Panel

Hormones play a crucial role in regulating menstrual cycles, fertility, mood, metabolism, and many other bodily functions. I often recommend women test their hormones once per year, and this includes young women as well. Hormones tested include estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, and thyroid hormones.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of a hormonal imbalance, you may need more in-depth testing.

Cost: $200 – $800+

At-Home Option: Yes, if using saliva test

Method of Collection: Blood draw at a doctor’s office or saliva samples collected at home at specific times of the day

What It Reveals:

  • Estrogen Levels: Measures estradiol and other estrogen forms, providing insights into reproductive health and menopause status.
  • Progesterone Levels: Assesses progesterone, crucial for menstrual cycle regulation and pregnancy support.
  • Testosterone Levels: Measures total and free testosterone, impacting libido, mood, and muscle mass.
  • DHEA-S: Evaluates adrenal function and potential stress-related hormone imbalances.
  • Circadian Cortisol Rhythm: Tracks cortisol levels at multiple time points throughout the day to assess adrenal function and stress response.
  • Melatonin Levels: Provides insights into sleep-wake cycle regulation.

3. Vitamin and Mineral Panels

Our bodies need a variety of nutrients to function properly, and deficiencies in these nutrients can lead to health problems. Tests like Metabolomix+ assess your body’s need for antioxidants, B-vitamins, minerals, digestive support, fatty acids, and amino acids.

Cost: $100 – $500+

At-Home Option: Yes

Method of Collection: Saliva, cheek swab, FMV (urine), or stool sample

What It Reveals:

Information about disease risk, metabolism, vitamin & mineral status, toxic exposure, heavy metals, and metabolic health.

4. Food Sensitivity Testing

If you’re looking to improve your health by eating the right foods, it’s helpful to have an inside look at how your body responds to your overall diet—including the foods that are considered healthy. This is valuable guidance toward making the right decisions with your diet.

Food intolerance and sensitivity testing is one tool that may be useful to determine how well your diet is working for you. More often, if an at-home food sensitivity test shows multiple food reactions, this can be a sign that your immune system is overreacting and of overall poor gut health.

Cost: $100 – $400+

At-Home Option: Yes

Method of Collection: Fingerstick

What It Reveals:

Identifies specific foods that may trigger immune responses, potentially contributing to inflammation and various health issues.

5. Gut Function Analysis

Your gut is ground zero for your health. Proper digestion, absorption of nutrients, and elimination of waste products play a pivotal role in how you feel, look, and think every day. Testing your digestive function offers key insights into the root cause of hormone imbalance, weight issues, chronic inflammation, and so much more.

Tests also look at parasites, bacteria and yeast overgrowth, and food intolerances.

Cost: $300 – $500+

At-Home Option: Yes (But some require stool sample)

Method of Collection: Saliva, urine, stool sample, or cheek swab

What It Reveals:

Assesses gut health, including the presence of beneficial and harmful bacteria, inflammation markers, and digestive function.

6. Inflammatory Markers:

Inflammation is a natural immune response to injury, infection, or stress, but chronic inflammation can lead to chronic diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, and cancer. Two inflammation markers that women should get tested for are CRP (C-reactive protein) and homocysteine. High levels of CRP indicate inflammation in the body while high homocysteine levels are associated with increased risk for heart disease and stroke.

Cost: $50 – $200+

At-Home Option: No (Usually requires a blood draw)

Method of Collection: Blood draw at a certified laboratory

What It Reveals:

Measures markers like C-reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) to assess systemic inflammation levels, which can be indicative of various health issues.

For more on which blood tests you should consider to evaluate your health, watch the video here!

What to remember about lab testing

These tests can offer valuable insights into an individual’s health, hormone balance, and potential imbalances that may contribute to various health concerns. Integrative medicine practitioners often use these tests to develop personalized treatment plans aimed at optimizing health and addressing underlying issues. Keep in mind that the cost of these tests can vary widely, and insurance coverage may be available for some, but not all, of them. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate tests based on your health goals and concerns.

Dr. Taz Bhatia M.D.