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Limitations of Serum AND Saliva for Testing Hormones 

Don’t they use Blood for that?


It’s a question many people ask when informed that Saliva can be used to test the levels of steroid hormones.

Well, you can. In fact most GP’s prefer to do it this traditional way. Before making up your mind though, you may wish to take the following into account. 

Disclaimer: TestoChecker provides hormone testing kits using both saliva and serum specimen types. This short post is a honest attempt to present unbiased arguments for and against both serum and saliva for testing hormone levels in Australia


What are the Limitations of Blood for Testing for Hormones? 

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Blood testing hormone levels


Blood hormone testing does not typically allow for the analysis of estrogen, androgen, and adrenal metabolites, which provide a wealth of data to assist the practitioner or user in understanding their (patient’s) condition, forming a guide to fine-tune treatment.

Another limitation of blood hormone testing, is the “snapshot” aspect of a single point test. Steroid hormones like testosterone, cortisol and and also precursor hormones androstenedione and DHEA are secreted in a pulsatile manner over the course of the day/night. Not knowing whether this level represents a crest, a valley, or somewhere in between means the result, whilst still of some value, is less so.

Melatonin is another great fit with regard to the convenience Saliva offers for testing some hormones. It is far easier to spit into a collection vial throughout the course of the night/ morning, than would be to attend a blood collection centre. That doesn’t mean Saliva is the ultimate testing method though, not by any means. Sure it has strengths as a testing medium, but it has shortcoming like any other. .

What are the Limitations of Saliva for Testing Hormones?

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Saliva is perfectly suited to multi-point cortisol testing.


It must be pointed out that Saliva as a testing specimen (type) has limitations too. Only 10 or so hormones are tested this way when the human body secretes and circulates approximately 50 different hormones. Another weakness in the argument for use of saliva for testing hormones is the potential for blood spot contamination, or indeed any type of contamination. This has to be accepted as a possibility at both the saliva collection point and subsequent transfer to the lab. 

Contamination can occur by simply brushing teeth or drinking coffee prior to sample collection. Tobacco and also Vitamin B12 is known to interfere with melatonin testing making strict adherence to collection instructions important. Fortunately, a good laboratory will evaluate the suitability of the saliva sample before the actual testing can commence.

This is referred to as the ‘Viscosity Test’, and the saliva sample may be rejected should it fail. This test will not identify slight contamination though, only if the saliva has maintained integrity during its journey to the laboratory.


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Saliva hormone testing is known as ‘Functional Pathology’ in Australia.



Knowing which method is the “right” method for testing the hormones you wish to test is the key piece of advice we hope you take with you. Serum can be said to have won due to it possessing the higher most number “purposes”. However it cannot compete with Saliva in the niche ‘steroid hormones, AKA sex hormone arena for reasons we covered here.

We hope ‘Limitations of Serum AND Saliva for Testing Hormones’ was useful. 

Stay Safe. Keep on reading and researching. 

Author: G. Saywell [Testochecker]

TestoChecker Hormone Test Kits
Phone: +64293271336
Address: Suite 1A, Level 2, 802 Pacific Highway,
Gordon, NSW, 2072.

Purpose: We Take the Stress out of The Test !

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