In general, the other hormones most often tested are the sex-related hormones and the endocrine-related neurotransmitters.
The endocrine system is extensive, and is intimately, intricately, and systemically related to every other system in the body, especially the neuroendocrine system. This is why anything that affects the endocrine system can have such widespread and systemic symptoms. A good review of the endocrine system with its major hormones can be seen here. A good review of neurotransmitters can be found here. For women, it’s probably a good idea to take a look at some of the basic menstrual cycle graphs and get an idea of how estrogen, progesterone, FSH and LH cycle throughout the month. These varying amounts of hormones can easily affect symptoms of flox victims.
Here, I cover the most popular testing that can be done on your own. As usual, this is not an exhaustive list of the testing that can be done, just a representative sampling of testing that can be done. There are no shortages of websites and forums dedicated to hormone issues, mostly for women, but increasingly, for men as well.
Sex Hormones: Estrogens (E1, E2, E3, or total Estrogens), Progesterone, Testosterone, and DHEA. Natural estrogens are steroid hormones, and serum lab measurement of “Estrogen” or “Total Estrogen” is usually a combination of Estrone (E1), Estradiol (E2), and Estriol (E3). Measurements of E1, E2, and E3 can be done separately for those who prefer to know these values. Both total and “free” hormone can be measured, just as with thyroid hormone and cortisol. SHBG (Sex Hormone Binding Globulin) is the main protein carrier for testosterone and estrogens. Serum, saliva, and urine testing can be done for the hormones. I usually did serum testing for all these; however DHEA was included in the cortisol saliva tests that I ordered.
FSH and LH: Much like the thyroid and adrenal axes, the sex hormones operate in a feedback loop with the pituitary produced hormones FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) and LH (Leutinizing Hormone). FSH and LH are secreted from the same part of the pituitary gland that TSH and ACTH are. If all four of these values are consistently low, it can help identify a pituitary problem.
Neurotransmitters: These include neurotransmitters such as Serotonin, GABA, Dopamine, Epinephrine, Nor-epinephrine, Glutamate, and more. I’ve done several tests of these with different companies, both urine and saliva. I’ve gotten results all over the map, including one sample I split and sent to two different companies. So I’m not sure what to make of such testing. I think running such tests under more controlled situations, and with repeated measurements, would obviously be helpful, but unfortunately, it’s also cost prohibitive. Still, I think it would be a worthwhile pursuit, and a good project for a group of flox victims to try. You might be able to get some good pricing on such testing if you approached a company with this in mind.
An excellent book I recommend for women is “Natural Hormone Balance for Women” by Uzzi Reiss, M.D/O.B. Gyn. This book has the best, most straightforward, comprehensive, and easy to understand information about hormonal balance for women of all ages that I’ve found. Unlike some of my other recommendations, this one is written for lay people, and for people without a lot of knowledge about the endocrine system in general. It is a true “how to” book, empowering women how to understand and interpret their hormone levels with symptoms they may be having, and how to use natural bio-identical hormone replacement or supplemental therapy for those who want to try it. Please note I am not saying every woman should “balance their hormones” or take any form of HRT at all. This is a personal decision for each woman, and given all the conflicting information out there about this, can be a hard one to make. It is even harder for flox victims, who most likely have endocrine disruptions going on as a result of being floxed, and it’s currently unknown as to why that is or if it’s a transient or permanent situation. What I do very much like about the book, is that for the women who do want to try hormone supplementation, he describes how our bodies will tell us when we are on the correct dosages for us — NOT our doctors. There is not a “one prescription dose fits all” mentality here. He constantly stresses that you know how your own body feels much better than any doctor does, and you can use that to determine the correct hormone doses for yourself. My entire website is pretty much a “do it yourself” take charge type of promotion, simply because as flox victims, we have been completely abandoned by the medical profession and there’s no one else to help us. So a book such as this one, which also promotes and empowers patients to listen to their own bodies, is in keeping with my goals here. Please note that for anyone thinking about hormone supplementation, you will need to work with a physician or naturopath, as these are prescription medications. In general, when it comes to bio-identical hormones, it’s the alternative, holistic, and naturopaths who are more willing to work with you and prescribe these.
As a woman, I don’t feel qualified to make any good references for men when it comes to testosterone or other androgen supplementation. Over the years, it’s become apparent from reading posts that plenty of men develop low testosterone after being floxed. I do know of several who supplement as a result. However, as with women, supplementation is a highly personal issue, and there is a lot of conflicting information out there. Again, it appears that endocrine disruptions, such as with testosterone, are occurring in some flox victims as a result of being floxed, but it’s currently unknown as to why that is or if it’s a transient or permanent situation. “Low T” is becoming a marketable phenomenon for Pharma, so men may have an easier time finding a physician to prescribe.
In my own case, I do supplement with a very small dose of estrogen and testosterone. As with thyroid hormone, I’m at a much reduced dose — about 1/8 of what’s considered a standard dose. My dose is so small that it does not show up on blood work at all (I am post menopausal, so this is easy to see). However, as with thyroid hormone, I am “locked” into the doses I’m on: a certain set of symptoms develop if I go lower, and another set of symptoms develop if I go higher. So in my mind, I’m on the “best” dose for me right now, given my current circumstances. I am also unable to take any progesterone at all without developing what are called “paradoxical symptoms”. I was not sensitive to progesterone prior to being floxed, and for the first few years after. But as my condition continues to deteriorate, with increasing sensitivity to everything, this included progesterone, to the point I can no longer tolerate it.
In my particular case, my sensitivity to all hormones is an indication that the floxing really messed up my hormonal axes. Whatever these hormones all have in common — carrier proteins, steroid hormone receptors, hormone response elements, mineral and trace mineral co-factors in enzymatic reactions — appear to have been permanently damaged in me.