Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hormone Spit Test

I haven't been to any doctors for my headaches in a while (except for my therapist) but over the summer I went to a new gyno for a hormone consultation. I have headaches all the time, but during my period, they're constant, often migraine-level, and drugs don't seem to touch them. The gyno suggested I take a Female Hormone Panel saliva test. I've had my hormones tested by a former neurologist, but it was soon after I stopped hormonal birth control and it was a single blood test (results were normal from what I remember). For this test, I have to fill 11 tubes with spit on particular days throughout my cycle. It's supposed to work better because it's taken before, during and after ovulation, and saliva carries a certain kind of hormones, or something like that. The cost will be $200, but I haven't been taking regular meds or having frequent copays, so that's my justification!

In addition to the test, I've been charting my cycles by taking my temperature every morning, using instructions from Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. From what I can tell, my luteal phase is too short which means I have low progesterone levels. The former neurologist I mentioned above suspected I had that problem and had me visit a compounding pharmacy to get bioidentical progesterone, but then I saw a new neurologist and she told me stop taking them.

I have 10 more spit tubes to fill, freeze and mail, and then the company will send my gyno the results and we'll review them together. Side note, it's tough filling a tube - maybe 3/4 inch, with spit, not including the foam. The directions say you can chew sugar-free gum a few minutes beforehand, but I've cut fake sugars for good so that's not an option. I tried visualizing myself biting into a juicy strawberry, but that barely made my mouth water. Next time I'm going to look at pictures of food or maybe smell stuff in my fridge and see if that helps!

12 comments:

Ghost said...

I am extremely curious to see what results this test gives you. I've been using fertility charts for years, and I certainly have the short luteal phase (9 days normally). I track headache days on the same charts and find that, while they can occur on any day of my cycle, they're much more likely, and tend to be a bit more severe, on days 8-9-10 of the cycle, when my estrogen levels surge prior to ovulation. So... not your classic menstrual migraine, but still somewhat hormone-related. This was a minor revelation to my doc, who has me starting on Prometrium (progesterone pills) next cycle, to see if this will help.

Mrs. JayMay said...

Its interesting that you say you were diagnosed with low progesterone; so was I. I was also diagnosed with PCOS and like I stated before in another comment, I, too have been suffering from migraines since I was 13. There must be some kind of link in there that isn't noticed somehow.

In order to induce my periods, they gave me provera. Of course I had withdrawl bleeding but the periods only came when I took the provera. My period never came on its own.

So I went and saw a new doctor and they put me on metformin. Within 4 months I had a period without it being induced technically with medicine.

Do you get migraines when the weather changes? For some strange reason I do.

Migrainista said...

I'll be tuning in to see what happens next. This sounds just like me short luteal phase, basil temp charting, migraines...

Good luck!

Jamie Valendy said...

So, I'm embarassed to even say that I didn't even know what a luteal phase was. I haven't noticed any sort of pattern to my migraines - they are pretty much all the time, and don't seem to be consistently worse at any time during my menstrual cycle. I am curious to see what results the test gives you, though.

FIGHTER said...

this is something i deal with myself. severe menstrual migraines. it has forced me to quit work. i to have pcos and i am still on the hunt for a doc to piece this all together. i know that mine are like 90% related to my periods.

Anonymous said...

Taking B vitamins can help lengthen your luteal phase. Also, to help make saliva pretend you are sucking on a piece of hard candy. Hope that helps.

Heather said...

Wow - it is fascinating how so many of us have short luteal phases/low progesterone! It can't be a coincidence.

Ghost - Now I'm the one who is extremely curious...please keep me posted on how the progesterone pills work out for you!

Mrs. JayMay - When you were put on metformin, did you migraines improve? To answer your question, I haven't seemed to notice a pattern when it comes to weather changes; it's really hard for me to track though.

Migrainista - Thanks! I'll keep everyone posted!

Jamie - Don't be embarrassed; I didn't know until I read the book. I highly recommend reading it if you have time. I've learned so much about my lady parts and how they do their thing! :)

Fighter - Sounds like there is a PCOS and migraine connection, too. I hope you can find something that helps!

Anon - I've tried a B complex for migraines but not for my luteal phase; maybe if I do that plus progesterone it will help. Also, I'll try your saliva tip next time. Last time I google-imaged "desserts" and imagined myself eating the delicious foods that came up. Then my husband started making popcorn and he added melted butter and the visual and smell helped me fill up the remainder of the tube! :)

BirchTree said...

Mine don't seem to be cycle-related, but I've been charting for a while too. In case anyone is looking for a tracker program, I love FertilityFriend.com -- you put in your temps as well as a few other set symptoms. What I really love is that you can add symptoms and medicine and other categories, so it's really helped me keep track of my headaches and medicine use and other migraine symptoms. I just log in every morning and record things from the previous day. I just did a whole round of hormone testing every other day for much of a month for my fertility doc, but had go into Quest to do the blood tests -- I didn't know saliva samples were an option, that would have been so much easier!!! I will recommend that to my friends who are thinking about doing this...

Heather said...

BirchTree,

Thanks for the website recommendation! Some of my friends think charting is weird, so I'm happy to know that you and others who have commented are doing it too! :)

Anonymous said...

Reading this is so interesting! I have the hormone spit test kit right now, too. They also suspect that my progesterone is low, but want to prove it before starting treatment. I've suffered with endometriosis and menstrual migraines for way too long! Please keep us posted on your results.

Heather said...

Anon - what are the odds?! It's nice to know I'm not the only one spitting into tubes this month, LOL. I'm on tube #6 out of 11, so I'm half way there. I'll definitely blog about my results as soon as they're ready. Please keep me posted on yours too!

beth said...

I am 35, and have been having all sorts of issues with my hormones being imbalanced. The newest issue being migraines, I have NEVER had headaches before in my LIFE...this is new to me. I started tracking them and they are def more prominant around the time I should be ovulating and during my period but I actually have them most days just duller. I just had bloodwork done that shows I am low in progesterone too! There is certainly a connection to this. I am ALSO on the high end of the reference range for estrogen..leaving me with a low ratio, and I think THIS is this key to controlling our migraines. There is a website (I have researched now for over 3yrs to find an answer) and I believe we need a really high dose of progesterone to combat the overly high estrogen...if you are high like me. progesterone therapy dot com is the site if you want to check it out. I bought some vitex, it is an herb that is supposed to stimulate the production of progesterone naturally, i am scared to take it though, it seems like a 50/50 chance of having a bad reaction like depression, but my headaches have been so bad lately that I am considering taking the chance and stopping if i have any adverse reaction. ALSO, something that i DID take a chance on, because it came with less side effects, was a natural supplement called DIM...I am taking it EVERYDAY now and within 10 mins of taking it my headache is almost gone. If i forget to take it, i can sure tell! Its made from crucerfious veggies like broccoli and it actually helps your body metabolize the "bad" estrogens and helps detox your liver. I hope this helps!! I wish the doctors would try harder to figure out the hormones better for a woman, we go through so much!!!