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What every women needs to know about blood tests
You’re a 40 something year old women, you visit your doctor for a check up. Maybe it’s because you feel awful or maybe it’s just to be sure, nothing awful is brewing.
Your doctor asks a few questions, gives you a once over, takes your blood pressure etc.
Then orders blood work…..
Exactly what get’s tested will vary, but odds are, they’ll check who is who in your blood, do a lipid profile, take a squizz at your sugar levels i.e. do the BASICS.
You dutifully donate the vials of blood – then wait the response.
Hopefully everything comes back in the normal range, but what if it doesn’t ? Maybe your cholesterol level is a little “high”. Or you appear to have inflammation. (The marker for this is C-reactive protein).
The numbers are PROBLEMATIC
Your heart sinks. Should you panic ?
Well before you get your knickers in a knot. What time of the month was it when you had the blood test done ? Odds are NO ONE asked, but the answer to this question MATTERS.
It turns out, the hormone roller coaster you ride every month, impacts other aspects of your biochemistry. This variability in YOUR NUMBERS is enough to lead to a misclassification of your health risk profile. This is what a group of researchers from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, recently documented in a review on the subject of cardiometabolic markers in premenopausal women.
The hormone rollercoaster
Estrogen is the QUEEN BEE, when it comes to the menstrual cycle, she flits about, usually on a monthly schedule, but she does have to co-ordinate her presence with the big MAMMA hormone, progesterone.
Together these two powerful lady hormones, do what it takes, to BE pregnant.
This includes increasing the levels of cholesterol UPWARD and dialling up the level of insulin resistance. Building a baby is a resource intensive process…..
The ups and downs of the ride
The ride starts off slow. At the start of the ride, estrogen levels are low. At this point, an egg princess awakens…. estrogen chaperones the egg princess on her journey to DESTINY. Estrogen levels rise, the chariot loops the loop, the princess unbuckles the straps that hold her and she escapes the ovary.
OVULATION, happens on day 14.
Progesterone – the BIG MAMMA hormone, witnesses her escape and a flurry of activity ensures….
WE’RE GOING TO MAKE A BABY !
Not a jackpot ride
Estrogen returns to base, shortly after this progesterone follows. Both estrogen and progesterone levels fall precipitously.
Since there is no baby, there is no need for all the body’s resources to be directed to building a baby.
Cholesterol levels fall. Insulin sensitivity is restored.
The drop in hormone levels, allows the uterus to spring clean and menses happens. Of course, cleaning is hard work and messy, so the levels of inflammation rise, around the time of menses.
And then…………… it all begins again, estrogen picks up the next egg, ready for the ride of its life.
Your blood work
Will vary across the menstrual cycle. Blame estrogen !
Depending on when the blood is drawn, cholesterol levels WILL VARY. Granted the differences are NOT ENORMOUS, but they big enough to influence your doctor’s thinking.
Especially since it is unlikely the timing of the blood draw, is being factored into the decision making process.
So when should you have blood tests ?
There isn’t an ideal moment………… it’s not just your hormones that are riding a rollercoaster, every one of the biomarkers is fluctuating. What is “high” or “low” is highly dependent on where you are in the cycle.
What you need to aim for is CONSISTENCY !
In an ideal world, you want to get your blood work done, at a specific time of the month.
Menses a good time of the month
It can be a little tricky to work out exactly where you are in the cycle, especially if you’re not as regular as clock work.
Ladies trying to get pregnant, work hard a dialling in the exact moment the princess leaves the building, to increase the chances of a romantic rendeavous. But this is NOT obvious and can be quite tedious, unfortunately, it is not always that accurate.
Menses IS obvious.
So if you’re going to have blood work done, doing it when your get your periods, will ensure consistency. And as an added bonus, if cholesterol is the number you’re focusing on…………. this will be the time it is at it’s lowest.
Every time you have blood work done, be sure to get a copy of the results and keep it in a file. Knowing what is NORMAL for YOU and watching TRENDS in your numbers is really helpful when you are working on creating BETTER BODY CHEMISTRY to optimize your health.
High estrogen levels slow down the learning curve so try not to schedule major learning moments around that time of the month when levels peak.
Smoking is not good for you, but giving it up is HARD, especially if you’re a lady. Study after study, shows women battle more with cigarette craving than men.
It has long been acknowledged that estrogen gives women an edge, when it comes to avoiding heart disease. Infatutation might be the reason……