On April 17, 2020 I published the second article about health and wellness and understanding lab test results. This post is a follow-up to the first two pieces I wrote. No post would be complete without a legal disclaimer; I am not a doctor nor am I giving medical advice – I am simply sharing thoughts from my journey to creating a stronger body and mind! I hope they help you along your journey.
Please feel free to go back and read the first two discussions on my blog if you have not seen them yet, or reach out to me directly if you have questions you don’t feel comfortable posting!
In the first two articles I gave you an idea of the basic readings to test for, and what some of them mean. Most of us, if you are remotely health conscious, are aware of your lipid panels (cholesterol) and maybe some of the basic vitamin and hormone levels. Unless you are diabetic, most people are not aware of their glucose levels or insulin.
In this final piece (for now!) about blood lab test results, I want to talk several additional endocrinology reproductive hormones, and why they are important. If you are someone who need actual medical attention to address your own health issues, please seek professional help. I cannot stress this enough. If you are someone who just has questions, or wants to learn more, make an appointment and ask your primary care physician to draw these labs, sit down with you, and explain them.
The following readings are part of the regular panels I monitor;
- Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
- Luteinizing Hormone
- Free Testosterone
I won’t go over all of these readings here and now but let’s focus on a couple of them and why they’re important! (Please note I am referencing healthline.com for the medical terms)
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) is an important part of the reproductive system. It’s responsible for the growth of ovarian follicles. Follicles produce estrogen and progesterone in the ovaries and help maintain the menstrual cycles in women. In men, FSH is a part of the development of the gonads as well as sperm production.
High FSH Levels in Women
If you’re a woman with high FSH levels, this may indicate:
- a loss of ovarian function, or ovarian failure
- polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is a condition in which a woman’s hormones are out of balance, causing ovarian cysts
- a chromosomal abnormality, such as Turner’s syndrome that occurs when part or all of one of a woman’s X chromosomes is missing
High FSH Levels in Men
If you’re a man with high FSH values, this may indicate:
- Klinefelter’s syndrome, which is a rare condition in men caused by an extra X chromosome that can affect male development
- testicles that are absent or not functioning properly
- testicles that have been damaged by a disease such as alcohol dependence
- testicles that have been damaged by treatments such as X-rays or chemotherapy
DHEA or dehydroepiandrosterone, is a hormone that’s produced by your body. Some of it is converted into the major male and female sex hormones testosterone and estrogen. Its effects can be driven by the actions of testosterone and estrogen after this conversion occurs, as well as by the DHEA molecule itself. Understanding your DHEA level could be the key to better understanding things like libido, weight gain or loss, an even depression. Before you consider taking any supplements for this, be sure to consult your doctor.
Cortisol is a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands. It’s important for helping your body deal with stressful situations, as your brain triggers its release in response to many different kinds of stress. However, when cortisol levels are too high for too long, this hormone can hurt you more than it helps. Over time, high levels may cause weight gain and high blood pressure, disrupt sleep, negatively impact mood, reduce your energy levels and contribute to diabetes. Understanding your cortisol levels is an important aspect of your overall health but remember, they are highest in the morning so if you have this checked in your labs, make sure you do it early in the morning!
Last but not least, testosterone. I saved the best for last because this is certainly one of the most discussed/debated and highly talked about of the hormones!
Testosterone is a hormone produced by the human body. It’s mainly produced in men by the testicles. Testosterone affects a man’s appearance and sexual development. It stimulates sperm production as well as a man’s sex drive. It also helps build muscle and bone mass.
Testosterone production typically decreases with age. According to the American Urological Association, about 2 out of 10 men older than 60 years have low testosterone. That increases slightly to 3 out of 10 men in their 70s and 80s.
Men can experience a range of symptoms if testosterone decreases more than it should. Low testosterone, or low T, is diagnosed when levels fall below 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL).
A normal range is typically 300 to 1,000 ng/dL, according to the Food and Drug Administration. A blood test called a serum testosterone test is used to determine your level of circulating testosterone.
A range of symptoms can occur if testosterone production drastically drops below normal. Signs of low T are often subtle. Here are signs of low T in men.
- Low sex drive or difficulty with erection
- Fatigue and loss of energy
- Hair and muscle loss
- Mood changes
- Increased body fat
If you’ve enjoyed reading these updates, let me know. Also, please reach out and let me know what you would like to read more about. As I build this blog, my IG account, and my You Tube Channel (eventually), and my businesses, I will start sharing more about my own personal journey to health and wellness. Thank you!