HORMONES | DNA Health + Estrogen + DUTCH Complete
"JOINCIRCLES enables you to own your own medical data. When you receive your biochemistry results, we strongly advise that you contact one or more of healthcare practitioners listed under our "Practitioner Circle' who have been trained to interpret these tests. Once you have a plan from your practitioner, you can come back and shop your personalised daily nutrition, environment and lifestyle choices. As the medical director, I'm available to help you chose the right test and/or practitioner for your needs". Dr Heidi
This is a combination of the 'DNA Health + Estrogen' test and the 'DUTCH Complete' test.
Doing your DNA + biochemistry is a very comprehensive way of assessing your hormonal health.
It may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, but genetic testing is a powerful health tool that can give you a deep understanding of how your body works.
At the heart of it is the molecule DNA. Every single cell in our bodies – from our heart to skin, blood and bone – contains a complete set of our DNA. This powerful molecule carries our genetic code and determines all manner of traits, from our eye colour to aspects of our personalities and, of course, our health. Interestingly, 99.9% of the DNA from two people is identical. It’s the other 0.1% of DNA code sequences that make us unique.
Your DNA holds a wealth of invaluable information about your health and can tell you everything from whether you’re lactose intolerant to if you are at risk for potential DNA damage. Knowing this, it’s absurd to think that we don’t all have an intimate knowledge of our genetic makeup.
What are genes?
Genes are segments of DNA that contain the instructions your body needs to make each of the many thousands of proteins required for life. Each gene is comprised of thousands of combinations of ‘letters’ which make up your genetic code. The code gives the instructions to make the proteins required for proper development and function.
What are gene variations?
An example of a genetic variation is that one ‘letter’ may be replaced by another. These variations can lead to changes in the resulting proteins being made. For example, a ‘C’ may be changed to a ‘G’ at a point in the genetic code. When the variation affects only one genetic ‘letter’ it is called a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism, or SNP (pronounced “snip”). Variations can however also affect more than one ‘letter’. Genetic tests look at specific chromosomes, genes or proteins, and the variations that occur within them, to make observations about disease or disease risk, body processes or physical traits.
Are gene variations bad?
In general, variations should not be considered good or bad. Rather, genetic variations are simply slight differences in our genetic code. Some variations even carry benefits.
The key is to know more about your genetic variations so that you can best support them through more personalised nutrition, environment and lifestyle (NEL) choices that will help your body function optimally.
DNA | HEALTH + ESTROGEN TEST
We believe that more info is better than less when it comes to DNA. Combining our genetic tests to best suit your needs gives you more info plus works out more cost effective.
DNA | HEALTH
DNA | Health is a nutrigenomic test that can assist you and your healthcare practitioner in creating a personlised nutrition, environment and lifestyle plan for you that can promote optimal wellness, longevity and the prevention of many common lifestyle-related chronic diseases.
It looks 8 key areas that could lead to a chronic illness and is a great foundation to combine with one of our other DNA tests. When looking at hormones, so many factors can influence hormone levels and how your body detoxifies hormones that having more info around just your hormones is very useful. This test combo gives you that.
Please click on DNA | Health test for more info about this test - the info here is just a summary due to limited space on this page.
8 KEY AREAS
What's your risk for raised cholesterol levels and imbalanced HDL:LDL cholesterol ratios? Which choices will work best to balance your cholesterol: medication or personlised nutrition and lifestyle choices?
What's your risk for osteoporosis? What is the status of vitamin D receptor?
What's your risk for cancer, cardiovascular events, ADD/ADHD, depression and bipolar depression, autism?
Inflammation + oxidative stress are 2 key markers involved in almost all chronic illnesses
Among other things, oxidative stress can lead to premature ageing, both inside and outside of your body
How well do you detox? Do what degree should you limit your exposure to environmental toxins?
What's your risk for insulin resistance and diabetes?
Lactose intolerance, caffeine processing, salt sensitivity and blood pressure and iron overload disorders
DNA | ESTROGEN
Did you know that approximately 80% of breast cancer occurs in women with no family history? Pretty terrifying, right? Which is why DNA | Estrogen is a test we recommend every woman over the age of 18 should take.
Estrogen affects the function of several target tissues, and research shows that an increased lifetime exposure to estrogen is a strong risk factor for developing breast cancer.
DNA | Estrogen looks for gene variants that have been shown to have an impact on how estrogen is metabolised in your body. The test includes 11 genes involved in estrogen biosynthesis, estrogen metabolism, and Phase I and Phase II detoxification.
The results of the test provide information with which to create personalised diet, environment, lifestyle, hormone and nutraceutical recommendations to improve estrogen metabolism in your body.
This test is beneficial to both men and women who suffer from various estrogen-dominant conditions or those who have a higher lifetime exposure to estrogens, estrogen metabolites and other carcinogens.
One of the many uses of this test combo is that DNA | Estrogen allows you to see how well your body detoxes estrogen at a genetic level, and the DUTCH Complete biochemistry test allows you to measure and track how well you are actually detoxifying estrogen in real-time. This might serve as a great indication for estrogen-driven cancer risk and prevention.
Please click on DNA | Estrogen for more info about this test - the info here is just a summary due to limited space on this page.
Men or women with a strong family history of breast, ovarian, colon, prostate cancer or estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer
Women who suffer from estrogen-dominant conditions such as endometriosis, premenstrual syndrome and uterine fibroid
Women considering starting oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy or bio-identical hormone supplementation
Women who are considering in-vitro
DUTCH COMPLETE TEST
DUTCH Complete is an advanced hormone test, offering an extensive profile of sex and adrenal hormones and melatonin, along with their metabolites, to identify symptoms of hormonal imbalances.
This video explains what the DUTCH test measures and why:
Millions of women suffer from hormonal imbalances. Whether it is menopause, weight gain, fatigue, low libido, premenstrual symptoms (PMS), mood swings, or depression, these symptoms can lead to more serious problems if misdiagnosed. Identifying the root cause of chronic health issues is certainly correctable, but only if properly identified.
The DUTCH test was created to provide insight into many of these concerns, working to deliver the most complete assessment of sex and adrenal hormones along with their metabolites, in one easy to do test.
Benefits | Features
- Easy directions
- Filter paper collection strips
- Forms to complete with fields for the supplements, medications and hormone replacement therapy you may be taking
- Health questionnaire
- Sealable return envelope
- Courier bag
- Details of how to book the courier collection
35 HORMONE & HORMONE METABOLITE MARKERS
- Cortisol - daily free cortisol patterns to provide insight into ‘adrenal fatigue’ or symptoms of chronic stress
- Melatonin (6-OHMS)
- Oxidative stress marker: 8-Hydroxy-2-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG)
- Six organic acid tests (OATs) including markers for vitamin B12 (methylmalonate), vitamin B6 (xanthurenate), glutathione (pyroglutamate), dopamine (homovanillate), norepinephrine/epinephrine (vanilmandelate) and serotonin (5-hydroxyindoleacetate)
GRAPHS & VIDEOS
Graphical representation of results and embedded video tutorials to assist in the hormone assessment to share with your medical provider.
This video gives you an overview of what you will find in the DUTCH report:
What if I am on HRT or hormone replacement?
You are still able to use DUTCH testing when on HRT. We strongly encourage you to visit our free video library, find the route of administration you are taking (ie. oral, topical, vaginal) and watch the video in order to determine your specifics.
DUTCH testing can provide useful information on hormone metabolism for any form of HRT. To get highly useful information regarding proper dosing of hormones, be careful using DUTCH testing for the following forms of HRT:
- Oral estrogens (estradiol, estriol) – values can be artificially inflated from 1st-pass metabolites that end up in urine from gut metabolism having never been in circulation as a bioavailable hormone.
- Sublingual progesterone, estrogens, testosterone – If these hormones are swallowed when you take them (which is difficult to avoid) a lot of the concentration in the urine will be from 1st-pass metabolism (a hormone that gets metabolized in the gut and excreted in urine without making into circulation as a bioavailable hormone). It is not possible to differentiate between hormones that get into circulation and end up in urine and those that are there due to 1st-pass. This makes the interpretation difficult.
- Transdermal progesterone, testosterone – Monitoring transdermal creams is controversial and not entirely clear (especially with progesterone and to some degree testosterone). For more information on this topic, see our video library.
What if I use the birth control pill/patch/ring/implants (not IUD)?
The birth control pill (patch, ring and implants) stops the FSH and LH surge from the pituitary to prevent an estrogen rise and ovulation (thus progesterone production) from the ovary. If you hormone test while on the pill, your estrogen and progesterone should be predictably low. That means the pill is doing its job and you are not likely to become pregnant.
If you are on hormonal birth control to prevent or decrease symptoms of certain conditions such as endometriosis or heavy bleeding, talk with your healthcare provider first before just stopping your birth control. If you stop your birth control, your symptoms will likely return immediately. It is the healthcare provider’s role (not the labs) to decide what treatment options should be followed, but we want to make sure the lab testing provides maximum information. In some cases where birth control has been taken, reproductive hormone values have diminished value (as they are relatively predictable).
Remember the DUTCH testing is very specific (accurate) so synthetic estrogens and progestins found in birth control are NOT seen by our testing methods. For more information on this please see this blog post.
What if I have an IUD?
The copper IUD, also known as the Paragard, is not made up of any hormones, therefore, you can test on the typical day 19, 20 or 21 of a 28-ish day cycle as the instructions request.
The Mirena IUD does have synthetic progesterone in it known as a progestin. For those women who still have a cycle with the Mirena, it can partially suppress ovulation in some women which will make progesterone levels sub-optimal or outright low. The DUTCH test is a very good way to see if the Mirena is suppressing hormones. The progestin in the Mirena often makes the lining of the uterus very thin to almost non-existent. As a result, some women do not bleed when it’s time to have their period. This can make it difficult to determine exactly what day of their cycle they are on.
The best time of the month to do this test is between day 19-21 of your cycle. If you are just doing only the adrenal test, you can collect as instructed by your healthcare provider.
Remember the DUTCH testing is very specific (accurate) so synthetic progestins found in hormonal IUDs are NOT seen by our testing methods.
What if I am on a steroid medication such as prednisone, steroid inhaler, steroid allergy nasal spray or topical hydrocortisone/Cortaid cream?
Be aware that a 'steroid hormone' and someone taking synthetic steroids such as for body-building are different. 'Steroid hormone' is an umbrella term for those hormones made in the cortex of the adrenal glands (ie. cortisol) or the gonads (ie. testosterone or progesterone).
Remember the DUTCH testing is very specific (accurate) so synthetic glucocorticoids like Prednisone are NOT seen by our testing methods. For more information, see this blog post.
*The chart indicates the type of medication on the left, the glucocorticoid power (ability to act like cortisol) mineralocorticoid power (ability to act like aldosterone), duration in the body and how strong it is compared to cortisol. Short = 8-12 hours Medium = 12-36 hours, Long = 36-72 hours
What is the difference between pre-menopausal, peri-menopausal, and post-menopausal?
Peri-menopausal describes the time prior to menopause where her hormones are starting to shift due to the ovaries beginning the process of shutting down and not cycling every month. She may experience a change in her cycle (no cycles, short cycles, long cycles, and irregular cycles) that had not been normal to her. She may also experience common symptoms such as insomnia, hot flashes, night sweats, brain fog, weight gain, joint pain, and vaginal dryness. This occurs most commonly between the 40’s and 50’s.
Once a woman has not had a period in 12 consecutive months, she is considered post-menopausal. She may still continue to have unpleasant hormonal symptoms, but she does not cycle anymore.
What is a hormone metabolite and what is hormone metabolism?
What about metabolized cortisol?
On the adrenal page of our test, we measure metabolized cortisol. Just like above, cortisol has to be processed in the body and is then excreted as metabolized cortisol. On our test, these markers are known individually as a-tetrahydrocortisol (aTHF), b-tetrahydrocortisol (bTHF), and b-tetrahydrocortisone (bTHE). They are the best marker of the total cortisol output from the adrenal gland (see the cortisol section for more information).
Understanding the Reference Ranges (General)
The reference ranges on our test are listed out in 2 places. First, they are listed on page 2 and 4 of the DUTCH Complete report, on page 1 of the DUTCH Sex Hormone Metabolite report, and on page 1 of the DUTCH Adrenal report.
Next, when looking at the pictures, they are listed out as dials or gauges for each hormone. Almost all gauges have 2 stars. The left star indicates the lower range cut-off while the right start indicates the upper range cut-off. In this example, the range given is 1000-5500. The patient is on the lower side of normal at 1875.
References ranges: Female cycling vs. post-menopausal ref ranges
When looking at the progesterone and estrogen metabolites for women, ranges are presented slightly differently. The range between the stars represents premenopausal female ranges.
Postmenopausal ranges are given (lower) in the purple band. Many women that are postmenopausal take some form of hormone replacement therapy. In these cases, it is helpful to see both ranges simultaneously.
Therefore, if the arrow on the gauge is pointing towards the rectangular box, she is in the post-menopausal range. If the arrow is pointing in between the stars (as in the example below), she is in the range of a woman who still cycles every month.
From the example below, one would conclude that the patient is within range if premenopausal and quite elevated if the woman was postmenopausal (and not taking HRT).
Reference ranges (Fan-style gauges)
The test also has fan-style gauges for 5a-Reductase activity, methylation activity, and cortisone/cortisol metabolite preference. These fan gauges do not have actual number reference ranges however they do have upper and lower limits with an optimal range in between based on a calculation. These simply look at a ratio (5a versus 5b metabolites, 2-Methoxy-E1 versus 2-OH-E1 or cortisol metabolites versus cortisone metabolites). If the person's ratio is “average” the gauge will plot in the middle. If the ratio is above average, it will point to the right (and to the left if below average).
In this example, the woman's 2-OH-E1 is “high normal” but 2-Methoxy-E1 is not (lower) which implies a lower rate of conversion than is typical. If 2-Methoxy-E1 was 5.3, the Methylation-activity index would be plotted in the middle (average or expected). Since the ratio is significantly lower, the index is in the shaded area, which is similar to being out of range (too low).
How are reference ranges determined?
The determining of reference ranges is a complex and involved process. Many 'healthy' or 'normal' individuals are tested to determine our ranges. As an example, for estrogens, we only include otherwise healthy individuals.
To make the process more robust, we exclude premenopausal female patients if the progesterone values are low. Low progesterone values may imply that the patient is not really cycling regularly or may have ovarian suppression from unreported birth control or medication ingestion.
Thousands of individuals have been screened and tested to properly develop all of the ranges used for DUTCH testing.
What is the 'Progesterone Serum Equivalent' gauge on page 1 of the DUTCH complete test?
Progesterone itself is not found in the urine, therefore, we test the two metabolites a-pregnanediol and b-pregnanediol. In this respect, progesterone is measured “indirectly” in urine. This is standard for urine testing (although most labs only measure b-pregnanediol and miss part of the progesterone).
We have done extensive testing of urine and blood and these two metabolites of progesterone in urine correlate strongly with the progesterone in your blood (serum). As a result, we are able to provide an estimate of what your progesterone in the serum could be should you have your serum levels drawn.
This correlation is strongest for women who are still cycling regularly. This may be helpful for practitioners and women in trying to understand their progesterone levels, but this is a calculation and not an actual measurement. When progesterone is taken orally or sublingually, these values will no longer correlate to serum values.
How do I do these tests?
All you need to do is rub the swab, which looks like a long ear bub, firmly on the inside of both cheeks for about 15 seconds so that a few cells rub off onto the swab. It's easy and painless!
The DUTCH only requires a simple dried urine sample. This requires that you saturate a small filter card with a small amount urine and leave it to dry before sending back to the lab. Simple!
Mark from Precision Analytical explains how simple it is to do the DUTCH test:
Benefits of dried urine testing
- Dried urine testing is the best way to measure adrenal and sex steroid hormone by-products and their respective metabolic pathways, providing a gauge for understanding the body’s hormone metabolism
- Dried urine method offers a discreet, at-home testing alternative and eliminates the hassles of all-day jug urine collection
- You can collect urine on a filter strip up to four times during the day
- Dried strips are shelf-stable for 30 days and easy to courier back to the lab for analysis
- Once dry, urine cards are extremely stable for shipment and storage and can last about 2-3 months before being processed as long as they are kept in a cool, dry place
- You don’t need to stop hormone supplementation for this test. Our lab has adjusted ranges for age, menstrual status and supplementation types.
- This test is the ideal method for tracking the effectiveness of hormone treatments