Female Hormone Test List – Decoding Womanhood

Female Hormone Test List – Decoding Womanhood

Thanks to a delicate orchestra of hormones, the female body is capable of the wonder of creating and growing new life. This divine capability comes with a lot of hormonal changes throughout a woman's life – from menstrual cycles to pregnancy and menopause. These hormonal fluctuations can significantly impact your health and well-being. That's where a female hormone test comes in, offering you a powerful tool to understand and manage these changes effectively. In this article, CARE introduces you to a female hormone test list and explains why and how you can check your hormone levels to optimize your health.

Blog Author Elena Health Coach at CARE
Elena Iagovitina

Health Coach

Published in General Health
9 min read · Feb 20, 2024

Hero Image

Table of content

What Hormones Can Be Tested in a Female Hormone Test?

Female hormone lab tests can measure a range of hormones, typically including estrogen/oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone, FSH, LH, thyroid hormones, and SHBG. The comprehensiveness of the test will determine which specific hormones are analyzed.

Here is a typical female hormone profile test list:

  • Oestrogen (Oestradiol)
  • Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG)
  • Thyroid Hormones (TSH, T4, T3)
  • Follicular Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
  • Luteinising Hormone (LH)
  • Progesterone
  • Testosterone

Let us take a closer look at these different hormones in a woman's body, their functions, ideal levels, and what your test results might mean:

Estrogen (Estradiol) – Female Secondary Characteristics

  • Function: Estradiol, a form of estrogen, is a steroid hormone and is responsible for developing female secondary sexual characteristics, regulating the menstrual cycle, and maintaining pregnancy. [1]

    Did you know a woman is already born with all the eggs she will ever possess? At the time of birth, there are roughly 2 million eggs, and the number of eggs declines continuously as a woman ages.

    Estrogen fosters the maturation and release of those eggs from a woman’s ovaries. Secondly, it orchestrates the thickening of the uterine lining, creating a nurturing environment for a fertilized egg to implant and develop into a fetus. [1]

    In the absence of fertilization, the egg is absorbed into your body, and your estrogen levels naturally decline in preparation for the menstruation that sheds the lining of the uterus – you get your period. Estrogen also influences bone health, skin, and even your mood.

  • Ideal Levels: These can vary widely depending on your age and menstrual cycle phase. For instance, in premenopausal women, levels typically range from 30 to 400 pg/mL, peaking during ovulation. [2]

  • Interpreting Results: Low levels may suggest menopause or ovarian insufficiency, while high levels could indicate conditions like ovarian tumors or estrogen dominance.

Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) – Hormonal Balance

  • Function: The Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) is a liver-produced protein that binds to sex hormones like estradiol, DHT, and testosterone. SHGB transports androgens and estrogens in the blood and regulates their access to target tissues.[3]

    SHBG levels, which are generally higher in women than men, impact the amount of free, bioavailable testosterone in the body, making it a valuable measurement alongside testosterone levels. [4]

  • Ideal Levels: For women, the normal range is typically 19-145 nmol/L, but this can vary. [3]

  • Interpreting Results: High SHBG levels are associated with anorexia, pregnancy, hyperthyroidism, infertility, and aging. Low levels increase the risk of developing conditions associated with excess hormones, like PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) or hypothyroidism. [3]

Thyroid Hormones (TSH, T4, T3) – Metabolism & Energy

  • Function: Thyroid hormones are crucial for metabolism regulation, thyroid function, energy levels, and your overall physical and mental health. TSH (a thyroid-stimulating hormone) stimulates the thyroid gland to produce T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine), which are active thyroid hormones. [5]
  • Ideal Levels: TSH usually ranges from 0.5 to 5.0 mIU/L. For T4, the typical range is 5.0 to 12.0 µg/dL; for T3, it's 80 to 220 ng/dL. [6]
  • Interpreting Results: When interpreting the results, higher TSH levels may indicate hypothyroidism, while lower levels could suggest hyperthyroidism. Abnormal levels of T4 or T3 can also indicate issues with your thyroid function.

Follicular Stimulating Hormone (FSH) – Menstrual Cycle Management & Growing Eggs

  • Function: Follicle-stimulating hormone, short FSH, is produced in your pituitary gland and is responsible for sexual development, such as managing your menstrual cycle and stimulating the growth of eggs in the ovaries. [7]

    The follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH) are the pivotal control hormones originating from the pituitary gland within the brain. These two hormones collaborate seamlessly in orchestrating the intricate processes of ovarian follicle development and egg release. [7]

    FSH takes the lead during the follicular phase, kick-starting the growth of an ovarian follicle, a crucial early step in the menstrual cycle, while also triggering the production of estrogen within the developing follicle.

  • Ideal Levels: Normal FSH levels are typically 4.7 to 21.5 mIU/mL for menstruating people. After menopause: 25.8 to 134.8 mIU/mL. [7]

  • Interpreting Results: Elevated FSH levels can suggest a reduced ovarian reserve or onset of menopause. Low levels may indicate issues with pituitary function.

Luteinizing Hormone (LH) – Ovulation

  • Function: LH works in tandem with FSH. As estrogen levels surge during the follicular phase, the pituitary gland will halt FSH production and initiate LH production. This surge in LH, in turn, triggers the ovaries to release the egg, a pivotal event known as ovulation. [8]

    LH also helps maintain the corpus luteum, a group of cells that forms after ovulation each menstrual cycle. The corpus luteum makes hormones necessary to support a pregnancy.

  • Ideal Levels: Normal LH levels during the follicular phase in women are 1.68 to 15 IU/mL, and during the midcycle peak, they are 21.9 to 56.6 IU/mL. [8]

  • Interpreting Results: High LH levels, especially when compared to FSH, can be a sign of PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome). Low levels may indicate pituitary disorders, stress, or malnutrition. [8]

Progesterone – Uterus Maintenance

  • Function: Progesterone prepares the uterus for pregnancy by thickening the uterus lining in preparation for a fertilized egg and maintains it during the early phase of pregnancy. [9]

    If fertilization occurs, the corpus luteum continues progesterone production until the placenta becomes the primary source a few weeks into pregnancy, producing substantial progesterone levels to support pregnancy maintenance. Therefore, it is vital for reproductive health.

    However, if fertilization doesn't happen, declining levels of FSH and LH trigger menstruation.

  • Ideal Levels: Levels typically range from <0.159–0.616 nmol/L in the follicular phase and 13.1–46.3 nmol/L in the luteal phase. [10]

  • Interpreting Results: Low progesterone levels can suggest problems with ovulation or maintaining a pregnancy.

Testosterone – Libido, Bone Strength & Muscle Mass

  • Function: Although it's considered the male hormone, testosterone is produced by women as well and is important for women’s health. Women produce testosterone in smaller quantities than men.

    Produced in the ovaries and regulated by the luteinizing hormone, testosterone, alongside estrogen, plays a role in maintaining and repairing reproductive tissues, contributing to muscle and bone strength, brain function, fat distribution, heart health, energy levels, and libido. It also assists in the body's estrogen production.

    Despite minor fluctuations during the menstrual cycle, testosterone levels generally remain stable in women but decline as they age.

  • Ideal Levels: Normal ranges of testosterone levels for women are typically 15 to 70 ng/dL or 0.5 to 2.4 nmol/L. [11]

  • Interpreting Results: High levels may indicate PCOS, tumors of the ovaries, or adrenal gland disorders, while low levels can be a sign of chronic stress, sleep problems, obesity, low thyroid function, and more. [11]

Please remember that these proclaimed “ideal” levels are supposed to give you a general guideline. Your individual results and their interpretation can vary based on factors like your age, health status, contraceptives, and depending on specific laboratory standards.

You should discuss your female hormone test results and any abnormalities in the hormone levels with a healthcare provider for accurate interpretation tailored to your unique health profile.

Methods to Check Female Hormone Levels

Blog detail image

When you want to check your hormone levels, you have several methods at your disposal, each offering unique insights into your hormonal health.

Blood Tests – Accuracy & Reliability

A blood test is the most common method for creating a hormone panel. CARE uses blood tests for evaluating hormonal imbalances as well. A healthcare professional will draw a blood sample and forward it to a specialized laboratory, which can measure levels of various hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid hormones, FSH, and LH.

But how does a blood test work exactly?

Antibodies are commonly used in immunoassays, such as Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assays (ELISAs), to detect female hormones in blood samples. Specific antibodies designed to bind to the hormone of interest are used as reagents. When the hormone is present in the sample, it binds to the antibody, resulting in a measurable signal that indicates the hormone's concentration, allowing for precise hormone level determination in female hormone testing.

The accuracy of blood tests is high, but remember that your hormone levels fluctuate throughout the day and your menstruation, so timing is crucial.

Saliva Testing – A Non-Invasive Method

If you get anxious just thinking about a needle, a saliva test might be your hormone test of choice. This non-invasive method involves collecting a sample of your saliva. It's particularly useful for measuring cortisol levels, which can indicate stress-related hormone imbalances. Saliva tests can also measure estrogen and progesterone and are convenient as they can be done at home. [12]

Urine Testing – Are You Pregnant?

This method measures hormones and their metabolites excreted in your urine. It offers a comprehensive view of your hormone metabolism over 24 hours, providing insights into how your body uses and processes hormones. Urine testing is also the standard way to test for pregnancies by detecting the presence of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), a hormone produced by the placenta shortly after a fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining.

Hair Testing – Long-Term Hormone Exposure

Though less common, hair analysis can provide information about long-term hormone exposure and balance in your body. It's a non-invasive method that can be particularly useful for understanding chronic conditions. [12]

Each of these methods has its strengths and limitations. Please consult us or your healthcare provider to determine which method best suits your individual health needs and concerns.

Remember, understanding your hormone levels can be crucial to optimizing and maintaining your overall health and wellness.

Why and When to Check your Hormone Levels

Blog detail image

There are several reasons why a woman might want to check or be aware of her hormone levels. Understanding when to monitor your hormone levels is pivotal, particularly in contexts like battling infertility or navigating the complexities of menstrual cycles or menopause.

If You Want to Conceive

Suppose you're grappling with the challenges of conceiving like many other women. In that case, a detailed hormone assessment can uncover crucial insights, pinpointing issues like progesterone deficiencies or thyroid imbalances that can impede your fertility. You might have also heard about the anti-müllerian hormone test in this context.

The Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH) test is a valuable blood test that helps you understand your ovarian reserve, which directly relates to your fertility. It helps answer your questions about the quantity of eggs remaining in your ovaries, offering valuable insights into your reproductive health. [13]

The Limbo of Perimenopause

Perimenopause, the transitional phase leading up to menopause, marks the end of your reproductive years. During this period, which can last several years, women sometimes experience uncomfortable changes in their menstrual cycle, like flash periods, mood swings, and night sweats. The various symptoms of perimenopause are due to fluctuating hormone levels, especially estrogen and progesterone. [14]

Struggling With Menopause

For many women, menopause can be exhausting, and hormone testing becomes a key ally in deciphering and managing its myriad symptoms, such as fluctuating menstrual cycles, mood variations, and the notorious hot flashes.

Suspecting Hormonal Imbalances

Blog detail image

Do you experience symptoms like irregular periods, unexplained weight gain, or persistent skin problems? These symptoms could be telltale signs of underlying hormonal disruptions or imbalances. Testing for your female hormones can help you get back on track and get rid of unwanted symptoms.

For Preventative Healthcare

By decoding your hormonal landscape accurately, you can embark on targeted treatments and lifestyle changes that cater to your unique health needs, enhancing your well-being and quality of life.

At CARE, we recommend female hormonal blood tests for our female clients as an essential preventive healthcare tool. They allow for early detection of changes or potential health concerns while addressing any gaps in your health management.

List of References

Blog Author Elena Health Coach at CARE

Elena Iagovitina

Health Coach at CARE Zurich

About the author

Elena is an enthusiastic Health Coach and blog writer at CARE, with a passion for holistic medicine and health. Previously, Elena worked for almost five years as a coach leading retreats, workshops, and seminars. These included mind-body therapy: breath work, meditation, and massage; as well as energy force therapy: reiki, and qi gong; and third expressive therapy: movement, writing and support groups. Elena shares exciting articles on the blog, on the topic of where the alternative and traditional medicine intersect with Western Medicine. Elena is also the driving force behind the CARE community. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, traveling to remote locations and dancing. You might also see her on the lake of Zurich as a coast guard. Join her on her journey to learn more about health and discover the world of preventive medicine! Visit all articles written by Elena!