Hormone Testing for Women: 12 Common Lab Tests and What They Mean

Medical research shows that hormonal imbalances affect nearly 50% of women. Of those, 72% don’t know the root cause of their symptoms until much later. 

Hormone Testing for Women helps to take proactive control of your health. Did you know there are laboratory tests that can identify hormonal imbalances? Opting for hormone testing now can save you a significant amount of worry, concern, and wasted time down the road.

While there are countless lab tests designed to uncover myriad medical issues, today, we’re focusing in on your hormonal health. Join us as we share twelve lab tests that can give doctors a clear view of your hormone levels so you can designate a path forward.

Ready to learn more? Let’s get started!

What Is a Hormonal Imbalance?

Your body is comprised of various glands and tissues, all of which are part of your endocrine system. These glands deliver hormones throughout your body via your bloodstream. These are the chemicals that tell your organs what to do and when to do it.

Hormones are responsible for regulating some of your most critical bodily processes, including your:

  • Appetite
  • Metabolism
  • Heart rate
  • Sleep cycles
  • General mood
  • Stress and anxiety levels
  • Sexual capacity
  • Internal temperature

A hormonal imbalance means that your body is producing too much or too little of a given hormone, such as insulin, estrogen, progesterone, or any other hormone. If your levels are off by even a little, it can create a significant change that you may feel to a severe degree.

Identifying Signs of a Hormonal Imbalance

While you might know to equate hot flashes and mood swings to a hormonal imbalance, did you realize that brain fog and memory loss could also be symptoms?

While it’s common for your hormones to shift during various stages of your life, some of the most pronounced changes will occur around the following times:

  • Before or after your period
  • During pregnancy
  • During menopause

The specific symptoms you’ll notice will vary depending on the exact hormones or glands that are off-kilter. However, there are a few symptoms present across almost every type of hormonal imbalance. These include:

Weight Gain

Many women find that hormonal imbalances can contribute to weight gain, as well as the inability to lose weight effectively.

The hormones most often associated with this symptom include low levels of thyroxin, as well as heightened levels of:

Excessive Perspiration

Do you find that you tend to sweat more than you used to? It isn’t all in your imagination.

Some of your hormones are responsible for regulating your body temperature. When they’re imbalanced, it can cause you to perspire more easily. 

Hair Loss

On average, we lose between up to 100 strands of hair every day. While this is a normal amount, you might notice even more on your hairbrush in the morning. 

Again, your hormones could be to blame. This is especially likely if you’re suffering from a low thyroid function, which is known to cause hair loss.

Diminished Sex Drive

Your sex hormones are located in your ovaries. The two most responsible for regulating your sex drive include estrogen and progesterone.

When an imbalance strikes here, you could notice an uptick or decline in your libido.

Persistent Acne

Do you suffer from acne that only tends to pop up around your period? That’s hormonal acne, and high levels of androgens (testosterone) can exacerbate it.

Weakness and Fatigue

It’s normal to feel tired on occasion. However, if you find it difficult to stay alert and focused during the day, a hormonal imbalance might be at work.

Again, it’s worth getting your thyroid gland examined, especially if you’re experiencing fatigue alongside hair loss. Mis-aligned levels of the thyroid hormone thyroxin are linked to constant fatigue.

Muscle Mass Deterioration

You work hard in the gym. So, why aren’t you seeing results? Some hormones are linked to muscle mass, including:

When these levels drop too low, you could notice your muscle mass declining. 

Digestive Concerns

In the time between your periods, do you suffer from digestive issues that make every meal uncomfortable? If so, it might not be your food that’s making you feel ill.

Sex hormones, such as estrogens, play a significant role in digestive health. You’ll find them within the microflora of your gut, as well as your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. If they become imbalanced, it can lead to a host of digestive concerns, including:

  • Abdominal pain 
  • Constipation
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea

On a side note, this can also help explain why women are more prone to developing Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) than men!

Hot Flashes/Night Sweats

You go to bed freezing cold and wake up drenched. What gives?

The unfortunate reality is that both hot flashes and night sweats can occur as a result of a hormone imbalance. Hot flashes, in particular, are especially common in women going through perimenopause. 

This is a transition that occurs several years before real menopause sets in, usually starting in a woman’s early 50s. 

Other Signs and Symptoms

In addition to the most common symptoms listed above, a hormonal imbalance can also lead to the following conditions:

  • Constipation
  • Heavy, irregular, missed or frequent periods
  • Stopped periods
  • Vaginal dryness and itching
  • Skin hyperpigmentation
  • Face puffiness
  • Decreased or increased heart rate
  • Weakened muscles
  • Joint pain and swelling
  • Infertility
  • Depression
  • Anxiety or irritability

How Hormone Testing for Women Can Help

While there are some symptoms, such as hot flashes, that you can almost always associate with a hormonal imbalance, others make it more challenging to connect the dots.

That’s where a laboratory blood test, specifically a female hormone panel, comes in.

In years past, the process of obtaining one and completing one was complicated and costly at best, requiring an in-person visit to your doctor. 

Now, you can hop online and order the lab test you need, right from the comfort of your own home. Our platform makes the process a cinch.

You can search by the test category you prefer and see all of the available options, including the:

  • Savings
  • Test Count
  • Biomarker Count

Using this data, you can identify and order the tests that meet your needs and budget. Then, you’ll visit a nearby patient service center to complete the test and analyze your results online days later.

12 Common Hormone Testing for Women

Before you begin your search and compare your options, let’s take a look at 12 lab tests designed to help identify hormonal imbalances in women.

1. DHEA-S

This acronym stands for Dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate. This is a weak male hormone (androgen) that adrenal glands produce in both men and women. 

What It Measures

DHEA-S test measures the level of this hormone in your blood. It is appropriate for women who appear to have too many male hormones.

Clinical Test Reference Range

Normal levels of  DHEA-S will vary depending on each individual’s sex and age. The average normal ranges for females measured in mcg/dL, as reported by Quest, are listed below.

  • <1 Month: 15-261
  • 1-6 Months: ≤74
  • 7-11 Months: ≤26
  • 1-3 Years: ≤22
  • 4-6 Years: ≤34
  • 7-9 Years: ≤92
  • 10-13 Years: ≤148
  • 14-17 Years: 37-307
  • 18-21 Years: 51-321
  • 22-30 Years: 18-391
  • 31-40 Years: 23-266
  • 41-50 Years: 19-231
  • 51-60 Years: 8-188
  • 61-70 Years: 12-133
  • ≥71 Years: 7-177

What an Imbalance Means

An increase or decrease in DHEA-S can be linked to various health conditions, including adrenal gland tumors and a malfunctioning pituitary gland. As such, your doctor should follow up with other test results to get to your underlying condition. 

In addition, high levels in your blood could lead to:

  • Stopped menstrual periods
  • Excessive body and facial hair
  • Persistent acne
  • Hair loss
  • Fertility issues

At the same time, if your levels of DHEA-S dip too low, you could experience:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Diabetes
  • Dementia
  • Diminished sex drive
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome

2. Estradiol (E2)

There is a particular group of steroids responsible for regulating your menstrual cycle and functioning as your main female sex hormones. This group includes the most predominant form of estrogen, called Estradiol, also referenced as Estradiol-17 Beta or E2. 

What It Measures

An Estradiol test measures the level of Estradiol in your blood.

As it’s produced mainly in your ovaries, doctors can analyze this hormonal activity to see if your organs are functioning as they should. 

Clinical Test Reference Range

Normal levels of Estradiol in women will vary depending on the menstrual cycle and age. The following Estradiol levels are considered normal for women, as reported by Quest.

  • Follicular Phase: 19-144 pg/mL
  • Mid-Cycle: 64-357 pg/mL
  • Luteal Phase: 56-214 pg/mL
  • Postmenopausal: ≤31 pg/mL

Normal levels for postmenopausal women should be lower than 10 pg/mL.

What an Imbalance Means

Elevated levels of Estradiol could signal early puberty, hyperthyroidism, cirrhosis, and other concerns.

Low levels could suggest menopause, Turner syndrome, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), hypopituitarism, and more.

3. Estrogens, Total

In addition to Estradiol, there are other forms of estrogen within your body.

For a more comprehensive look at your health, it’s smart to get a Total Estrogens blood test if you think this group of steroids is to blame for some of your symptoms.

What It Measures

Total Estrogens test measures the overall estrogen status in your blood. Because many estrogen hormones, including E1 and E2, fluctuate during your menstrual cycle and even through menopause, this test can be more reliable than an Estradiol one alone.

Clinical Test Reference Result Range Hormone Testing for Women

Your age and gender will determine the ideal amount of total estrogen you require. For women, lab specialists take your menstrual cycle into account when determining average ranges. These include:

  • Follicular Phase (First 1-12 days): 90 to 590 pg/ml
  • Luteal Phase (After ovulation): 130 to 460 pg/ml
  • Postmenopausal: 50 to 170 pg/ml

What an Imbalance Means

If you’re pregnant, keep in mind that this will have a significant effect on your estrogen levels. Your menstrual cycle timeline also comes into play.

Results that fall outside of the average range warrant a follow-up review. The same imbalance concerns present after an Estradiol test also apply in this case.

4. Estrone

In addition to estradiol and estriol, estrone is the third type of estrogen. While estradiol is the primary female sex hormone, estriol and estrone are the minor ones.

What It Measures

An Estrone test measures the level of estrone hormone present in your blood.

Clinical Test Reference Range

The following estrone levels are considered average normal ranges for females, as reported by Quest.

Adult Women

  • Follicular Stage: 10-138 pg/mL
  • Luteal Stage: 16-173 pg/mL
  • Postmenopausal: ≤65 pg/mL

Pediatric Girls

  • Pre-pubertal (1-9 Years): ≤34
  • 10-11 Years: ≤72
  • 12-14 Years: ≤75
  • 15-17 Years: ≤188 

What an Imbalance Means

An imbalance of any of your estrogen hormones can signify a host of medical concerns.

While those listed under the Estradiol test results also apply in this case, elevated estrone levels have specifically been linked to breast and endometrial cancer growth.

5. Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)

The FSH hormone is responsible for successful pubertal development, along with the function of women’s ovaries and men’s testes.

Specifically, this hormone helps ovarian follicles develop. These follicles produce estrogen and progesterone and help regulate your menstrual cycle.

What It Measures

An FSH test measures the level of FSH found in your blood.

Clinical Test Reference Range

The following FSH levels are considered average normal ranges for females, as reported by Quest.

  • Follicular Phase: 2.5-10.2 mIU/mL
  • Mid-Cycle Peak: 3.1-17.7 mIU/mL
  • Luteal Phase: 1.5-9.1 mIU/mL
  • Postmenopausal: 23.0-116.3 mIU/mL

What an Imbalance Means

High levels of FSH in your blood could be present during or after menopause. You could also experience elevation if you’re undergoing hormone therapy. In addition, too much FSH could also signal pituitary gland tumors, primary ovarian hypofunction, or Turner syndrome.

Low levels of FSH are linked to rapid weight loss, pituitary gland or hypothalamus inefficiencies, and pregnancy.

6. IGF-1 (Insulin-Like Growth Factor)

IGF-1 is a hormone that’s naturally present in your blood. It regulates the effects of growth hormone (GH) in your body. In addition, normal IGF-1 and GH functions include bone and tissue growth.

What It Measures

An IGF-1 test measures the level of the IGF-1 hormone in your blood.

Clinical Test Reference Range

Your age plays a major factor in your IGF-1 levels. The following IGF-1 levels are considered average normal ranges for females, as reported by Quest.

  • 18-19.9 Years: 108-548 ng/mL
  • 20-24.9 Years: 83-456 ng/mL
  • 25-29.9 Years: 63-373 ng/mL
  • 30-39.9 Years: 53-331 ng/mL
  • 40-49.9 Years: 52-328 ng/mL
  • 50-59.9 Years: 50-317 ng/mL
  • 60-69.9 Years: 41-279 ng/mL
  • 70-79.9 Years: 34-245 ng/mL
  • >80 Years: 34-246 ng/mL

What an Imbalance Means

Decreased serum levels of IGF-I could signal dwarfism caused by a deficiency of growth hormone (hypopituitarism). At the same time, elevated levels of IGF-1 are linked to acromegaly, or growth hormone excess.

7. Luteinizing Hormone (LH)

Luteinizing Hormone is associated with reproduction. It also helps stimulate your ovary to release an egg during ovulation. 

What It Measures

An LH test measures the amount of Luteinizing Hormone present in your blood.

Clinical Test Reference Range

For females, the average LH range depends on where you are in your menstrual cycle. The following LH levels are considered average normal ranges for females, as reported by Quest.

  • Follicular Phase: 1.9-12.5 mIU/mL
  • Mid-Cycle Peak: 8.7-76.3 mIU/mL
  • Luteal Phase: 0.5-16.9 mIU/mL
  • Postmenopausal: 10.0-54.7 mIU/mL

What an Imbalance Means

Too-low LH levels are associated with malnutrition, anorexia, stress, and pituitary disorders.

Especially if you aren’t ovulating, elevated LH levels could signal menopause. High LH levels are also linked to pituitary disorders or polycystic ovary syndrome.

8. Pregnenolone

Consider Pregnenolone as the precursor to the rest of your body’s steroid hormones. All of your others, including testosterone and estrogen, stem from this “mother” hormone. 

What It Measures

Pregnenolone test measures the level of the Pregnenolone hormone present in your blood.

Clinical Test Reference Range

For females, the average Pregnenolone range depends on your age. The following Pregnenolone levels are considered average normal ranges for females, as reported by Quest.

Adult

22-237 ng/dL

Pediatric

  • 1-59 Days: 68-1303 ng/dL
  • 60 Days-1 Year: ≤219 ng/dL
  • 2-6 Years: ≤140 ng/dL
  • 7-9 Years: ≤156 ng/dL
  • 10-12 Years: 15-220 ng/dL
  • 13-17 Years: 12-196 ng/dL

What an Imbalance Means

An increase or decrease of pregnenolone signifies an enzyme deficiency somewhere in your body’s steroid hormone production process. This test can also help detect rare forms of congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) linked to a pregnenolone imbalance.

9. Progesterone

In women, progesterone is a hormone released by the corpus luteum in your ovary. It helps to regulate your menstrual cycle and assists in maintaining the early stages of pregnancy.

What It Measures

Progesterone test measures the level of progesterone hormone present in your blood.

Clinical Test Reference Range

For females, the average progesterone range depends on your menstrual cycle: The following progesterone levels are considered average normal ranges for females, as reported by Quest.

Female

  • Follicular Phase: <1.0ng/mL
  • Luteal Phase: 2.6-21.5ng/mL
  • Postmenopausal: <0.5ng/mL

Pregnancy

  • First Trimester: 4.1-34.0ng/mL
  • Second Trimester: 24.0-76.0ng/mL
  • Third Trimester: 52.0-302.0ng/mL

What an Imbalance Means

High progesterone levels could signal pregnancy. In addition, they are also caused by ovarian cancer, adrenal cancer, or congenital adrenal hyperplasia.

Low levels could signal a failure to ovulate, ectopic pregnancy, or miscarriage.

10. Prolactin

Prolactin is the hormone that signals a woman’s body to create breast milk when she’s pregnant or breast-feeding. 

What It Measures

Prolactin test measures the level of Prolactin hormone present in your blood.

Clinical Test Reference Range

For females, the following Prolactin levels are considered average normal ranges, as reported by Quest.

Adult Female

  • Non-Pregnant: 3.0-30.0 ng/mL
  • Pregnant: 10.0-209.0 ng/mL
  • Postmenopausal: 2.0-20.0 ng/mL

Stages of Puberty (Tanner Stages)

Female Observed

  • Stage I: 3.6.12.0 ng/mL
  • Stage II-III: 2.6-18.0 ng/mL
  • Stage IV-V: 3.2-20.0 ng/mL

What an Imbalance Means

High levels of Prolactin don’t necessarily mean a health issue. Your levels could be elevated if you ate before the test or were under stress when you took it.

Exorbitantly high results, on the other hand, could be a sign that you have a prolactinoma, a non-cancerous tumor in your brain’s pituitary gland. Low results mean that your pituitary gland isn’t working at full capacity, a condition that’s known as hypopituitarism.

11. Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG)

This is a protein that your liver creates. In both men and women, it binds tightly to three sex hormones (estrogen, dihydrotestosterone, and testosterone), carrying them throughout your blood.

What It Measures

An SHBG test measures the level of SHBG present in your blood.

Clinical Test Reference Range

For females, the following SHBG levels are considered average normal ranges, as reported by Quest.

  • 3-9 Years: 32-158 nmol/L
  • 10-13 Years: 24-120 nmol/L
  • 14-17 Years: 12-150 nmol/L
  • 18-55 Years: 17-124 nmol/L
  • >55 Years: 14-73 nmol/L

What an Imbalance Means

High SHBG could be a sign of pregnancy, hyperthyroidism, or cirrhosis. If you’re undergoing oral estrogen administration or taking certain drugs, these conditions could raise your levels, as well.

Low SHBG could signify hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, acromegaly, and obesity.

12. Testosterone (Free and Total)

While it’s considered a male sex hormone, women do produce a small amount of testosterone in their ovaries and adrenal glands.

What It Measures

Testosterone test measures the level of testosterone present in your blood.

Clinical Test Reference Range

A Free Testosterone test measures the level of “free” or unattached testosterone in your blood. For females, the following free testosterone levels are considered average normal ranges, as reported by Quest.

  • 1-11 Years: ≤1.5 pg/mL
  • 12-13 Years: ≤1.5 pg/mL
  • 14-17 Years: ≤3.6 pg/mL
  • 18-69 Years: 0.2-5.0 pg/mL
  • 70-89 Years: 0.3-5.0 pg/mL
  • >89 Years: Not established

Total Testosterone test, on the other hand, measures the total level of testosterone in your blood. For females, the following total testosterone levels are considered average normal ranges, as reported by Quest.

  • 1-5 Years: ≤8 ng/dL
  • 6-7 Years: ≤20 ng/dL
  • 8-10 Years: ≤35 ng/dL
  • 11 Years: ≤40 ng/dL
  • 12-13 Years: ≤40 ng/dL
  • 14-17.9 Years: ≤40 ng/dL
  • ≥18 Years: 2-45 ng/dL

What an Imbalance Means

Women with high levels of testosterone may have PCOS. Low levels could be a sign of fertility problems, irregular menstrual periods, or osteoporosis.

13. Thyroid Hormone Lab Tests

We have focused on the 12 common Hormone Testing for Women in this article. However, equally important are your thyroid hormones.

Thyroid dysfunction can affect every part of your life, from your energy levels to your weight. Knowing which thyroid tests to ask for can help you identify any disorders you may have and may even help you catch cancer early. Check out our article on the 10 Key Thyroid Tests.

Your Stop for Complete Hormone Testing for Women

Now you know the 12 most common Hormone Testing for Women, While there are some symptoms, such as hot flashes, that you can almost always associate with a hormonal imbalance, others make it more challenging to connect the dots.. It’s important for you to get a baseline reading of each of your hormone biomarkers. Not only that, but you need to get tested regularly to track any changes that lead to a hormone imbalance.

By keeping a close eye on your hormone biomarkers, as you go through life, you can detect the impact of disruptions or discomfort from changing hormone levels. Make sure that you not only get routinely tested but to also discuss the results with your doctor.

If you need help understanding your hormones, we’d love to help. We offer these key Hormone Testing for Women as part of our selection of 1,500 lab tests, and we provide explanations on each biomarker.

You can select your lab tests, order directly online, choose a convenient patient service center near you, and review your test results typically in 1 to 2 days after your blood is collected.

Take charge of your health and get tested today at UltaLabTests.com/Shop.