Read on to find out what are hormone assays (tests) and other useful information related to these tests.
Hormone assays or test are usually used to measure hormones in blood. This test can help to measure male and female sex hormones like oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone as well as the hormones that are secreted by parathyroid and adrenal glands. To perform this test, a few millilitres of blood is collected from the vein. There is no need to do any kind of special preparation in order to undergo this test. However, patient must inform the doctor in case if he or she is on any medication or coping with any medical condition or allergy. Based on such medical history, doctor may suggest appropriate precaution that can be taken before undergoing the test.
Why are hormone assays required during infertility treatment?
Infertility treatment takes a holistic approach. A woman's fertility is not perceived merely in terms of mucus, or tubes or ovaries. The complex relationship between the brain, pituitary gland and the ovaries also needs to be studied. It is often essential to measure the levels of the various hormones in the body, which may play a part in the control of ovulation.
Apart from infertility treatment, hormone assays are also required for carrying out treatment for issues related to menopause or irregular menses. A specific hormone test is advised by a doctor if an endocrine problem is suspected. Such problem is associated with the functioning of various glands in the body like thyroid, pituitary, testes, ovaries and adrenals.
How are the results of hormone assays interpreted?
Hormone assay tests are helpful in determining the concentration of a particular hormone in the blood stream. Based on the standard values corresponding to low, normal or high level of a particular hormone as a reference range, the results is interpreted by the doctor.
What will hormone assays tell the doctor in case of infertility?
There are certain key hormones that are involved in the whole process of ovulation. These are follicle stimulating hormone (F.S.H.), luteinizing hormone (LH), estrogen and progesterone. In addition, another pituitary hormone called prolactin can interfere with the normal pituitary secretion of F.S.H. Disorders of the thyroid gland can also adversely affect fertility. If, for example, your periods are very infrequent or have even stopped altogether (and you are not pregnant!), assays of prolactin. F.S.H., estrogen and thyroid hormone levels can be very useful in indicating the cause of your problem and thereby suggest a particular line of further investigation or treatment.
How is the normal production of these hormones determined?
Your progesterone level should be at the maximum level at the mid-point of the luteal phase of the cycle, between ovulation and the next period. This is a sign that ovulation had taken place. A low progesterone level at this time of the cycle (about day 21 of a 28 day cycle) indicates that normal ovulation in this cycle has not occurred. This, in turn, may be linked to an inadequate release of both F.S.H. and L.H. from the pituitary gland. A basal body temperature chart with a short luteal phase of less than 11 days may also indicate inadequate progesterone production.
Although hormone assays are used in the treatment of other disorders they play an important role in infertility treatments that are carried out using assisted reproduction techniques (ART). These assays provide a complete profile of hormones which come handy for the practitioners to carry out infertility treatment. So, such tests make it easy for the doctor to carry out right kind of treatment.