Saliva Testing – Observation of Pulsatile Hormones
Saliva is a biological specimen that is easy to obtain at regular intervals, i.e. multiple times in one day, allowing for observation of pulsating hormones, or hormones that should rise or fall during the 24 hour day night cycle. For this simple reason, the use of saliva for testing hormones has rapidly gained in popularity for diagnostic investigations by medical practitioners but also for use in the home.
As of June 2019 all TestoChecker test Kits employ Multi-Point Saliva Test Method [MSM], meaning we take more samples to get a wider view of stress and androgen hormone behaviour. This provides a picture of the ‘hormone output pattern’ and ultimately, a more informed final result.
We measure the unbound hormone component using Saliva
The endocrine organs (for example the adrenal gland) produce and secrete hormones into the blood stream that travel around the body to their site of action (for example the ovaries). In the blood however, the hormones are mostly bound to binding proteins which prevent the hormone from activating its receptor at the target tissue. So when a hormone is attached to its binding protein it is biologically inactive.
Saliva – Key Advantage
A key advantage of saliva testing is its practicality for tracking the secretion pattern of hormones that are released in pulses during the day – these hormones should show distinct daily patterns.
Typical examples of pulsatile hormones are the adrenal hormone cortisol, which rises in the morning and falls at night, and the pineal hormone melatonin, which is high at night but low in the morning. Multiple tubes are provided for convenient sample collection at predefined times of day.
I am using hormone replacement therapy
Saliva hormone testing is also recommended for monitoring hormone levels following hormone replacement therapy (HRT) that is administered topically (e.g. in a cream, gel or patch) and can be used to help determine the correct dose of hormone supplementation, in consultation with a medical specialist.
How accurate is hormone saliva testing?
Very! Aside from the practical aspects of saliva hormone testing, the tests are widely accepted in the medical profession to provide an accurate and reliable measure of hormone levels at the time of collection.
Once the saliva specimen arrives at the laboratory, it undergoes rigorous testing that is both sensitive and highly specific to the hormone being tested. Advanced Tandem-MS testing can detect very low levels of a given hormone and employs antibody binding methods that lead to only the specific hormone of interest being measured (avoiding false positives). The laboratory applies strict quality control checks ensuring that their test results are high quality and accurate.
Reference range charts
The popularity of saliva hormone testing has led to the establishment of well-defined hormone reference ranges in healthy individuals, meaning that hormone results can be compared against the most relevant typical range. Factors such as sex, age, history and menopausal status all affect normal hormone ranges, and can be adjusted for, providing an accurate assessment of hormone profile relative to expected norms.
How long does saliva testing take?
It depends on the laboratory, the equipment they use, and also the volume of hormones being tested. Laboratories who run low total volume of tests may run a single batch for a particular hormone once per week, where as larger, busier laboratories may do them daily. In the case of TestoChecker and its selected Laboratory, testing turn-around time is very quick. Testing time using TestoChecker hormone test kits is between 5 – 11 working days.
For a more specific breakdown of testing times go Here.