Deciding to take control of your health is one of the most life-changing, rewarding acts of love you can possibly give yourself. You’re showing your body the utmost respect, appreciation and kindness by really tuning in to what it needs in order to thrive. Our bodies are incredibly clever and will often let us know when they aren’t functioning to their fullest. But sometimes, it can be easy to miss the warning signs our bodies give us. We subconsciously disregard them or, worse, get swept up in the Google search self-diagnosis, which let’s face it, never ends well. When has that EVER ended well?!
One area of our well-being that is easily overlooked is our hormones, particularly for us women. We don’t have access to regular hormone screenings (which we should) and they can also be quite tricky to get to the bottom of, often masking as other health problems. It’s also common for hormonal imbalances to gradually get worse over time, thus not really recognising there’s a problem until it’s super obvious.
So where can you turn to when you know you are feeling a little out of sorts and want to understand why? It’s time for a blood test! Thriva offers the most trusted, hassle-free option for testing all sorts of things, but they are particularly great if you want to test your hormones. We spoke to one of their experts to get an idea of the process and just how valuable, and maybe even life-changing checking your womanly hormones could be.
For women in particular, why is it important to get our hormones checked?
Doing a blood test is a great way of empowering yourself with information on how to optimise your health. Taking these steps earlier can help reduce your risk of disease in the future. For example, PCOS (or PCOD) is the most common endocrine abnormality among women, and is a major cause of fertility issues. It is a complex condition that is under-recognised because it can present in many different ways. In this case, a blood test can help you determine whether your symptoms could be due to PCOS, in which case further tests like an ultrasound scan are warranted. It can tell you if there are any thyroid problems that may be contributing to your symptoms, which is another condition where early intervention is better for your health. PCOS also increases your chances of heart disease and diabetes, so blood tests monitoring risk factors for these conditions are included in the package.
Blood tests are also a great way of checking in to see how your body is doing. For example, the time period after giving birth is a time of increased demand on your body. You need more nutrients like vitamins and minerals, because of things like blood loss from childbirth and breastfeeding. Deficiencies can be picked up with a blood test, and this is important information because this could contribute to lower energy levels and poorer sleep. By knowing this information, it can empower you to make adjustments to your lifestyle to help your recovery after giving birth.
What makes your testing kits unique?
Thriva wants to empower you to take better control of your health. We want to help you build better habits, and in doing so, increase the time of your life spent in health, also known as your healthspan. In order to achieve this, we place strong emphasis on personalisation and lifestyle.
Personalisation is important because we understand the process of having blood tests and receiving results can be so confusing – there is so much information and it’s hard to know what to focus on. By personalising the results report and any recommendations to you, we hope to make the journey of having a blood test much more comfortable and pleasant. By helping you better understand your health information, and how it affects and relates to you, we hope to better engage you to have more awareness and knowledge and ultimately encourage you to live healthier lives.
We know that the habits that we do everyday can go a long way in preventing common chronic diseases, like heart disease and diabetes, from occurring. Even if you already have a condition, lifestyle helps you manage it better and improve outcomes. People increasingly want to know more about lifestyle and how to have better health. That’s why all the information we give you, from the doctor’s report to the recommendations to improve your results, are focused on lifestyle first and foremost, because we see it as the foundation for a long and healthy life.
Women’s health is an important area in this regard. More support is needed for conditions like PCOS, that are common and yet poorly recognised and understood. Similarly, women who have given birth are more likely to suffer from fatigue and poor sleep. We want to empower such people with their blood test information, so they can better manage their health.
I’ve never done a blood test before… what do I need to know?
Once you have ordered the test package on our website, you will be prompted to fill in your health information. This helps us personalise the experience, and will help our doctors to customise their reports. So the more information you provide, the better we can personalise things.
The blood test kit will arrive in 1-2 days in the post. You can watch a video on how to take the blood test, or read our written instructions included in the kit. It’s best to fast for 8 hours before doing the blood test, so most people choose to do it in the morning after they wake up.
In order to help your blood flow easily, it’s recommended to drink a glass of water, do some light exercise like jumping jacks, or place your hand in warm water for a few minutes before doing your test.
After cleaning the finger with one of the wipes in the kit, you can then use one of the disposable lancets to prick your finger. Once the blood starts flowing, you fill in the tubes included in the kit. Usually around 10 drops per tube is sufficient.
The kit comes with 3 lancets, but if you run out you can easily contact our customer service team, who will be happy to send you more. Alternatively, if you prefer you can go and get your blood taken by a nurse at select Superdrug stores for an additional fee. Just select this option when you buy your test, and you will be emailed a link to book your appointment.
Once the test is done, you package the tubes in the kit and send it in the post. A personalised report from our reporting doctors will be ready in around 48 hours. In this report, they will explain what your results mean. They will also suggest the next steps to take in order to improve any results.
I’ve done my test, what might it reveal?
Getting tested gives you the opportunity to have conditions like PCOS diagnosed. PCOS can present with a wide variety of symptoms, such as increased facial and body hair, acne, and irregular periods. Some of these symptoms can overlap with hypothyroidism, another common hormone problem. Because PCOS presents in so many different ways, it can make getting a diagnosis difficult. Finding abnormalities in your hormone levels can help you take steps to treat your symptoms, and better manage your fertility. It can also encourage you to find peer support from other people with the same problems. Our doctors will explain any abnormalities to you, and let you know if any further steps need to be taken and address any issues sooner rather than later.
PCOS co-occurs with problems such as raised insulin, raised cholesterol and obesity. This puts you at risk of long-term conditions like heart disease and diabetes. With the PCOS test, we will test things like your blood cholesterol levels and check your diabetes risk. We also look at your vitamin D levels as these are also commonly low in PCOS. We recommend basic lifestyle habits to change and improve these findings, and improvements are associated with better outcomes and helps to minimise your risk of other diseases in the long run.
In the post-birth blood test, we are able to tell you if you are getting the right amounts of vitamins and minerals to help support you and your growing baby. To recuperate from blood loss, the body needs more vitamin B12, folate and iron – which are crucial for the body to make new red blood cells. Low levels could lead to anaemia and increased fatigue.
Similarly, making breast milk means your body loses more nutrients like omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D. These nutrients are vital in supporting the development of your baby’s brain and bones, and knowing this information can help you take steps to ensure you are not deficient.
These nutrients are often obtained through a healthy diet, or fortified food in the case of vitamin D. People also commonly take supplements. In either case, doing a blood test can help you take stock of levels of these nutrients in your body, and make sure you are absorbing properly and that your levels are not too low or high. We offer a personalised doctor’s report that helps you understand the results, and advice on next steps like how to improve them. This could include things like what foods to eat or what supplements to try. Practical lifestyle tips are also given. For example, avoiding drinking tea or coffee before or after your meals to help boost iron absorption.
Should I check my hormones regularly?
We recommend testing more than once in some situations. If you have abnormal PCOS blood tests, it’s worth tracking them over time to see the effect of any changes to your lifestyle or any treatments you have received. Like if you have any hormone imbalances or thyroid problems. This increases insight into your health and helps build better awareness. If they are normal for you, you probably don’t need them repeated, unless you have something like a family history of thyroid problems, in which case an annual check will do.
Some tests, like those for diabetes and cholesterol, are worth tracking if they are abnormal, but also even if they are normal. This is because heart disease and diabetes are such common diseases that are preventable in the majority of cases through a healthy lifestyle. So even if the tests are normal, it’s useful to know you continue on the right track. Ultimately we want to help you build better habits, and knowing your blood results are a powerful way to motivate you to do this. This is especially true if you have a family history of these conditions, and you are at increased risk.
Similarly for the post-birth test, it’s worth repeating levels of any nutrients that you are deficient in to improve health awareness and the impact of any changes you make. If the tests are normal, you probably don’t need to repeat them unless you have concerns, such as a change in diet.
The PCOS and post-birth tests are currently not subscription, but one-off test bundles. This is because they test a range of things at once, a bit like an MOT. It’s unlikely that you will have abnormalities in all of these areas, and we leave the choice to you as to which ones you want to repeat on a subscription going forward.
Get started by heading to thriva.co