Hormone testing is a form of medical testing which is used to analyze hormone levels in the body. It can be performed in a laboratory using samples of saliva, blood, or urine, depending on the hormone of interest, and it is usually ordered by an endocrinologist in the process of diagnosing and treating a patient. General physicians and other doctors can also request hormone testing and several labs accept samples collected by patients who want to monitor their hormone levels.
There are a number of reasons to request hormone testing. When a patient presents with a condition which indicates an imbalance of hormones, a physician may ask for hormone testing to determine whether or not the hormones are imbalanced, and if so, by how much. The testing can also be used to investigate the function of specific glands which are responsible for producing hormones.
When patients have tumors in areas like the pituitary gland, lymph gland, or adrenal gland, a doctor may use hormone testing to look at how the tumor is affecting the glandular function, and to arrive at a course of treatment which could be appropriate for the patient. Hormone testing is also used to determine the appropriate dosages in hormone replacement therapy and to monitor such therapy to ensure that it is progressing as expected.
Some conditions are naturally linked with changes in hormone levels, such as menopause and puberty. In these cases, abnormalities may be related to issues with hormone production, in which case hormone testing can help a doctor get to the bottom of the cause of the abnormality, and develop an appropriate course of treatment. People with conditions such as Klinefelter's Syndrome can also benefit from hormone testing, as can individuals undergoing therapy as part of a transition from one gender to another.
Conditions such as infertility and delayed growth can also be related to hormonal imbalances, making hormone testing a valuable tool in the diagnosis and treatment of such medical issues. In some cases, the testing may simply rule out a hormonal imbalance as the cause, but this is still an important step in the process of diagnosis. Other patients may receive hormone testing and learn that their problem can be readily addressed with hormone replacement or medications which can adjust hormone levels.
Costs for hormone tests vary, depending on the hormone being screened for, and the method of sample collection. Because this type of testing is recognized as a valid and important part of the diagnostic process, most insurance companies will agree to pay for the testing.