Saliva Test FAQs

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Can you send my test results to me via e-mail?

Yes, we do have the capability to e-mail test results upon request in a pdf file.

What is included in the saliva test kit?

The saliva test kit contains the following: Instructions for Saliva Collection, a Symptom Checklist to help you determine which hormones you need to test, a Requisition Form to complete with your personal and medical history, and the vial(s) for collecting your saliva. To ensure expedient processing of your sample, double check your requisition form, making sure it is complete and that dates of collection are correct. Incomplete and/or incorrect paperwork can delay the processing of your sample. Save the box for shipping the sample back to the lab. A prepaid label will be included. Please allow three weeks for your results.

How do you set your expected ranges for test results? What are they based on?

The laboratory hormone target ranges are based on a highly significant number of individuals representing each of the defined populations, as well as controlled population studies of women using a specified dosage of hormone supplementation. Variations in ranges refer to the wide individuality of hormone levels and are based upon the sex, age, and menstrual status (cycling or not cycling). The questionnaire that you return with the test kit will assist the lab in giving you helpful comments on the results.

In people taking hormones, ranges are based on 12-24 hours post-hormone use—36 hours for those using sublingual (under the tongue) or troche hormone dosing.

How long is the saliva sample stable for testing?

Hormones in saliva are exceptionally stable, allowing wide latitude in collection and shipment. Samples can be stored at room temperature for at least two weeks without loss of activity, so samples can be shipped internationally to the laboratory by regular mail.

When will my test results be returned and what is involved?

Your test results are returned to you and/or your health care provider within about ten working days of receipt, or three weeks from your mailing date. The two-page test result includes a graph that clearly shows you where your hormone levels fall within set ranges—either in range, or out of range. A second graph details self-reported symptoms that are catalogued according to the hormonal imbalance they fall into. Symptoms are also correlated with the hormone levels identified through saliva testing.

How often should I test my hormones?

If you are following a treatment program to balance your hormones and are using hormone supplementation, it is a good idea to retest in three to six month intervals for purposes of monitoring. This allows you or your health care professional to track your progress (or lack of) and to make necessary adjustments in the dosage of hormone therapy for optimal results. If you are still experiencing symptoms, or if they re-appear, you should retest in three to six month intervals. Once your hormone levels are balanced, testing your hormones once a year will be adequate.

 I'm having a difficult time collecting enough saliva to fill the tube.

If you are having difficulty collecting saliva we have a few recommendations:

First of all, allow extra time—at least 20 to 40 minutes before collection. Drink extra water the day/night before to product more saliva. Dry mouth? Try pressing tip of tongue against teeth. Even smelling (not eating) a lemon or other foods can start saliva flow. Allow saliva to pool in mouth before collecting. Avoid chewing gum (even sugarless gum), as it may contaminate the sample. If all else fails and you cannot collect enough in one day, cap the tube, put it in the freezer and add more saliva at the exact time the next morning until the tube is at least half full. You may continue collecting in this way for up to five days.

Should I stop taking my hormone supplements to take the saliva test?

You do not have to stop hormone supplementation to take the saliva test. In fact, it's a good idea to use saliva testing as a method for evaluating the effects of the supplement program you are currently on. This allows you and your health care provider to monitor how well your body is metabolizing hormone therapy and make adjustments as needed. If you are presently supplementing with topical hormones (creams, gels or patches), which deliver hormones through the skin, saliva testing more accurately reflects these levels than other measurement methods such as blood testing.

How should I time my hormone supplements with the saliva test?

For men or women using supplemental hormones, refer to these guidelines, specified to the type of hormones you are taking:

  • Topical Creams: Apply to sites other than face or neck and wait 12 to 24 hours after application to collect.
  • Sublingual or Troche (dissolved under tongue): Wait 36 hours after last dose to collect.
  • Transdermal Patch: wait two days after application to collect.
  • Injections: Wait seven days after injection to collect.
  • Recent hormone users should have supplemented for at least two weeks before testing.
  • All of the above apply to women taking birth control pills.

How much saliva do I need to collect?

You need at least 3 mls. of saliva in the tube which is about half to three-quarters full (not including bubbles). In the large (10 ml) tube, we require it to be at least ½ full, best if ¾ full. In the small (5 ml) tube, the same rule applies. The lab requires a minimum of 3 ml. to achieve accurate results.

Q: I have my test report, but I don't understand how to read it:

  • Look in the left hand column on the first page of your saliva hormone test report under “ Saliva Test Results” to view where your hormone levels fall, either “In Range” or “Out of Range.” Next, follow your test result straight across to the right hand column for the “ Expected Range” of the hormones tested (result and expected range will be in bold font).
  • You can compare your test ranges against the expected ranges to see which of the hormones tested are on the high or low end of normal; or whether they are way out of range, or just a little bit.
  • Progesterone / Estradiol (Pg/E2) ratio on the third line of the chart is significant for women. This ratio, if either too high or too low, clearly indicates a fundamental imbalance between these two hormones and can be tied back to the most common symptoms of perimenopause and menopause.
  • On the second page of your test report you will see a colored bar graph of the symptoms you originally indicated on the requisition form as either ‘mild', ‘moderate', or ‘severe'.
  • To the left of the bar graph is a category of the most common symptoms experienced when specific hormone types are out of balance.
  • Dots listed in a category indicate symptoms related to that category. Dark dots indicate symptoms you listed as ‘moderate' or ‘severe'.
  • To find out which type of hormone imbalance your symptoms fall into, follow the column down to the category listed. Ex: (i.e.: or e.g.: ?) dots for hot flashes or night sweats lead down the column to ‘Estrogen/Progesterone deficiency'.
  • Some symptoms fall into more than one type of hormone imbalance. Ex: decreased libido has dots in four columns, as this symptom can be associated with low thyroid, high cortisol, low androgens (DHEA and testosterone) and /or estrogen dominance.
  • As you review your symptoms within the category, you may find clues to other hormones that might need to be tested.
  • The dark green bar graph at the bottom of the symptom chart represents a summation of symptoms and the main category of hormone imbalance they generally fall into.

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Reprinted with permission of ZRT Laboratory