Expert Opinions

Expert Opinions Archive
I've recently heard that salivary hormone tests may be useful for determining whether I need to take supplemental hormones. What do you think about these tests?

R.L., Seattle

Salivary hormone test kits are now being marketed to perimenopausal and postmenopausal women so they can measure the amounts of estrogens, progesterone, and testosterone present in their saliva. The home test kits range in price from $60 to $130, which includes a phone consultation with an expert. Proponents of at-home saliva testing claim that women can use the results of these tests to determine whether they need hormone replacement therapy. The initial test results would indicate the appropriate starting dosage, and ongoing testing would signal whether a change in dosage is needed.

Dr. Susan Love, author of Dr. Susan Love's Hormone Book, however, sees a major flaw in this approach: "The problem right now is that we don't know how to interpret the data. In other words, we don't have any clue what level of hormones, for example, will prevent osteoporosis." Love says, "It's starting to look like much lower levels are adequate for things like osteoporosis and that we don't need to have premenopausal levels." Salivary hormone testing, however, is not all bad news. "The good thing," says Love, "is that it is collecting a lot of data so that maybe at some point in the future we'll know what it all means."

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