Key takeaways
  • The DUTCH test measures hormones and their breakdown, offering insights into levels and imbalances that conventional tests miss
  • The DUTCH test is helpful for assessing hormonal imbalances related to conditions such as menopause, reproductive health issues, mood disorders, fatigue, weight management, and overall hormone imbalances
  •  It offers personalised options for comprehensive hormone evaluation and tailored treatment plans

Hormones are the unsung heroes of our health, quietly orchestrating vital functions within our bodies. These remarkable chemical messengers wield significant influence over our metabolism, growth, mood, reproductive health, and overall well-being. 

By maintaining a delicate balance known as homeostasis, hormones ensure the harmonious functioning of our bodily systems. Their impact on our health is profound, shaping our energy levels, sleep patterns, emotions, and reproductive system health. 

Understanding how our bodies handle hormones is crucial for maintaining optimal health and addressing any imbalances that may arise. 

In this article, we'll explore the cutting-edge DUTCH test, a state-of-the-art laboratory analysis that offers comprehensive insights into hormone levels, adrenal function, and oestrogen metabolism. 

By harnessing the valuable information provided by this advanced hormones test, we can develop personalised treatment plans to address hormone imbalances and enhance overall wellness.

What is the DUTCH test?

Definition of the DUTCH test

The DUTCH test is a revolutionary hormone testing method that offers comprehensive insights into our hormonal status. Unlike traditional blood or saliva tests, this comprehensive hormone test utilises a combination of dried urine and/or saliva samples to measure a wide range of hormones, including cortisol, oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and their metabolites. 

By analysing both the parent hormones and their downstream metabolites, the DUTCH test provides a deeper understanding of hormone levels, their breakdown within the body, and crucial insights into hormone pathways and potential imbalances. 

This advanced test, supported by scientific research, is increasingly recognised for its accuracy and effectiveness in evaluating hormone health and guiding targeted interventions for hormonal balance and overall well-being.

How is the DUTCH test conducted?

The DUTCH test is conducted through a simple and convenient process that can be done from the comfort of your own home. 

The test kit includes detailed instructions that guide you through the process of collecting urine and saliva samples at specific times during the day. These instructions ensure that the samples are collected at the appropriate times to capture the fluctuations in hormone levels accurately.

Samples are collected at designated times from 6-8am in the morning, until your bedtime.  Saliva samples are collected in tubes, while the dried urine samples are obtained by saturating filter paper strips with urine at specific time intervals. People with sleep issues may want to get a night sample for assessing melatonin levels.

The collected urine samples are then sent to a specialised laboratory for analysis. These laboratories have the expertise and equipment to measure and analyse the hormone levels and metabolites present in the samples accurately.

To ensure accurate and reliable results, it is crucial to follow the provided instructions carefully. This includes adhering to the specified collection times, properly storing the samples, and packaging them as instructed before sending them to the laboratory. By following these guidelines, you can have confidence in the accuracy and validity of the test results.

Different types of DUTCH tests

When it comes to the DUTCH test, there are different types available, each serving a unique purpose in evaluating hormone health and providing valuable insights into specific aspects of our well-being. Let's explore the different types of DUTCH tests and their respective benefits.

DUTCH Complete

The DUTCH Complete test provides baseline hormone assessment, looking at analysis of sex hormones, adrenal hormones, and their metabolites. 

With a comprehensive view of hormonal balance, this test helps identify potential imbalances, such as oestrogen dominance, adrenal dysfunction, or hormonal fluctuations. 

It provides a thorough assessment that guides targeted interventions for restoring hormonal harmony and overall well-being.

DUTCH Plus

Building upon the DUTCH Complete test, the DUTCH Plus test goes a step further by incorporating additional measurements. It includes the assessment of melatonin, 8-OHdG (an oxidative stress marker), and six organic acids. This is the test our practitioners use most in clinic with patients, as it provides more value than the baseline assessment of DUTCH Complete. 

This expanded panel of markers offers insights into sleep patterns, oxidative stress levels, and cellular energy production. By providing a more holistic assessment of overall health, the DUTCH Plus test allows for a deeper understanding of various factors influencing well-being.

DUTCH Cycle Mapping 

While the DUTCH Plus test is the main test we use in clinic, there is another DUTCH test that’s specifically designed for women - the DUTCH Cycle Mapping test. This test offers a comprehensive evaluation of hormone fluctuations throughout the menstrual cycle. By tracking oestrogen and progesterone levels at different phases, this test provides detailed insights into the hormonal cycle. 

It helps identify any irregularities, imbalances, or abnormalities that may impact reproductive health, mood, or overall well-being. With these insights, targeted interventions can be tailored to address specific concerns and support hormonal balance.

Your practitioner will select the DUTCH test type that best suits your specific needs and health objectives. Whether it's a comprehensive assessment of hormone balance, a holistic evaluation of overall health, or tracking menstrual cycle fluctuations, the DUTCH test provides valuable information that can guide personalised interventions for optimal well-being.

What does the DUTCH test measure?

Hormones measured by the DUTCH test

The DUTCH test measures a wide range of hormones and their metabolites, providing a comprehensive assessment of hormonal balance and function. Here are some of the key hormones measured by the DUTCH test:

  • Oestrogen: The DUTCH test evaluates different forms of oestrogen, including estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3). Measuring oestrogen levels helps identify potential imbalances such as oestrogen dominance or deficiency, oestrogen-to-androgen ratio and assess overall oestrogen metabolism
  • Progesterone: Progesterone plays a crucial role in menstrual cycle regulation and pregnancy. The DUTCH test measures progesterone levels to assess progesterone production and evaluate its balance with other hormones
  • Testosterone: Testosterone is an essential hormone for both men and women, influencing libido, muscle mass, bone density, and mood. The DUTCH test measures testosterone levels to evaluate and monitor testosterone production and balance
  • Cortisol: Cortisol is a stress hormone involved in regulating the body's response to stress and maintaining daily rhythm. The DUTCH test assesses cortisol levels and its metabolites, providing insights into adrenal function and stress response
  • Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles and supports overall sleep quality. The DUTCH test measures melatonin levels to assess the circadian rhythm and identify potential sleep disturbances
  • Androgens: Androgens, such as DHEA and androstenedione, are precursor hormones for testosterone and play a role in various aspects of health, including energy, mood, and reproductive function. The DUTCH test measures androgen levels to evaluate their production and balance

How the DUTCH test measures hormones

The DUTCH test uses a combination of saliva collection, dried urine samples, and mass spectrometry to accurately measure and analyse hormone levels. The collected urine samples, both saliva and dried urine spots, are analysed using mass spectrometry. Mass spectrometry is a highly sensitive analytical technique that allows for the identification and quantification of specific molecules, such as hormones and their metabolites, in a sample. This advanced technology enables precise measurement and analysis of hormone levels and provides detailed insights into hormone production, metabolism, and balance.

By combining dried urine samples, and mass spectrometry, the DUTCH test ensures accurate and reliable measurement of hormones and their metabolites. This comprehensive approach allows for a thorough evaluation of your hormonal status and provides functional medicine practitioners with valuable information to guide personalised treatment plans and optimise hormone health.

DUTCH test vs blood and serum tests

Traditional hormone tests, conducted using blood or serum samples, provide valuable insights into hormone levels, such as thyroid, sex, adrenal, and pituitary hormones. These tests are useful for assessing whole amounts of the hormones in the blood. This is valuable for diagnosing specific hormone-related conditions such as thyroid disease or calculating the amount of pituitary hormones (E.g. FSH, LH, TSH, ACTH) which stimulate glandular tissues to make hormones.

With respect to reproductive hormones, blood work measures whole amounts, and can measure Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) which gives an indication of the free or unbound hormones available. However, blood levels can’t tell us the rate at which the body disposes or metabolises these hormones. This is where the DUTCH test is very useful. For example, a patient may have healthy amounts of oestrogen in the blood, however, the urine metabolites may be low, indicating a reduced clearance of oestrogen, resulting in symptoms of oestrogen dominance

Blood and urine hormone tests are very complementary and together provide a comprehensive picture of reproductive hormonal health.

When it comes to cortisol, in the DUTCH test, cortisol and its sister compound cortisone are mapped over a day. Blood tests for cortisol take only one data point. Seeing the pattern of cortisol over time, the conversion to cortisone, and the relative abundance of cortisol provides critical information about an individual’s waking response, sleep quality, stress response, and phase of stress adaptation (that is, acute, chronic, burn out).

The adrenal and reproductive hormones like cortisol, progesterone, testosterone, and oestrogen are in a dance with one another. High-stress hormones like cortisol can impact ovarian or testicular hormone production. The DUTCH will give a clear picture of whether chronic stress is impacting reproductive hormones as it is measuring all of it, at once.

The DUTCH test differs from traditional blood and serum tests in the following ways:

  1. Comprehensive analysis: Measures hormone metabolites that are typically not assessed in blood work, or cannot be identified in the blood. It evaluates hormone breakdown products, offering insights into hormone pathways, metabolism, and potential imbalances. It measures the relationship between adrenal and reproductive hormones
  2. Convenient sample collection: Urine samples can be collected at home, offering greater convenience for patients
  3. Extended assessment period: The collection of the dried samples throughout the day gives an indication of total hormone metabolites
  4. Stability and shipping: Dried urine spots ensure sample stability during transportation, reducing the risk of sample degradation

Overall, the DUTCH test offers a more comprehensive, convenient, and informative approach to hormone assessment compared to traditional tests. It provides insights into hormone production, metabolism, and imbalances while allowing for convenient sample collection and reliable results during transit.

Benefits of the DUTCH test

Benefits for patients

From identifying hormone imbalances to monitoring changes over time, the DUTCH test provides a range of benefits for patients, including:

Personalised treatment

The DUTCH test provides valuable insights into an individual's unique hormone profile, allowing healthcare providers to develop personalised treatment plans tailored to their specific needs. This personalised approach can lead to more effective interventions and better health outcomes.

Identifies underlying hormone imbalances

By analysing a wide range of hormones and their metabolites, the DUTCH test helps identify underlying hormone imbalances that may contribute to various health concerns. Some examples of key imbalances seen in various conditions include:

  • Oestrogen dominance: An imbalance between oestrogen and progesterone, with higher levels of oestrogen relative to progesterone, can contribute to symptoms like heavy or irregular periods, mood swings, weight gain, and increased risk of certain conditions such as endometriosis or fibroids
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is characterised by hormonal imbalances, including elevated levels of androgens (such as testosterone) and insulin resistance. This can lead to symptoms like irregular periods, acne, excessive hair growth, weight gain, and fertility issues
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Acne vulgaris

This understanding enables targeted interventions to address these imbalances, potentially alleviating symptoms and improving overall well-being.

Monitors hormone levels

The DUTCH test allows for regular monitoring of hormone levels over time. This longitudinal assessment helps track the effectiveness of treatment interventions and provides valuable feedback on the progress of hormonal balance restoration.

Reveals adrenal function and oestrogen metabolism

The DUTCH test also provides insights into adrenal function and oestrogen metabolism

By evaluating adrenal function and oestrogen metabolism, the DUTCH test can provide insights into various conditions, for example:

Adrenal Function

  • Adrenal Insufficiency/Addison's Disease*: Insufficient cortisol production leading to fatigue, weight loss, low blood pressure
  • Cushing's Syndrome*: Excessive cortisol production causing weight gain, thinning skin, high blood pressure
  • Adrenal Fatigue: State of chronic stress and fatigue, with symptoms like fatigue, sleep disturbances, and cravings

*These serious medical conditions require treatment by specialist medical professionals, and therefore aren't conditions our practitioners treat.

Oestrogen metabolism:

  • Oestrogen-related cancers: Imbalances in metabolism associated with increased risk of breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer. These serious medical conditions require treatment by specialist medical professionals which our practitioners can refer you to
  • Oestrogen dominance: Excess or impaired metabolism linked to heavy periods, mood swings, weight gain, and conditions like endometriosis
  • Hormone-related mood disorders: Oestrogen metabolism affecting neurotransmitters, potentially contributing to depression, anxiety, and mood swings

By evaluating cortisol levels and its metabolites, as well as assessing oestrogen metabolites, the test helps assess adrenal health and provides crucial information about how the body processes and clears oestrogen.

Supports reproductive system health

For women with health conditions such as PCOS, menopause, PMS, dysmenorrhoea or for those seeking to optimise their reproductive health, the DUTCH test can be particularly beneficial. For men with low libido, low sperm count, low muscle mass, and early balding, this test can also be helpful. It helps identify hormone imbalances and guide interventions to support reproductive health.

Who should consider taking the DUTCH test?

The DUTCH test is a valuable resource for individuals experiencing hormone-related symptoms and those seeking to optimise their hormone levels. 

Here are some specific groups who may consider taking the DUTCH test:

Individuals experiencing hormone-related symptoms:

  • Women with irregular periods or PCOS: Women who have irregular menstrual cycles, PCOS, or other menstrual irregularities can benefit from the DUTCH test. It provides insights into hormone imbalances, such as oestrogen and progesterone levels, helping to identify potential underlying causes of irregular periods and guide appropriate treatment interventions
  • Women experiencing menopause symptoms: The DUTCH test can be valuable for women going through menopause or experiencing symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, or vaginal dryness. It helps assess hormone levels, including oestrogen and progesterone, providing insights into the hormonal changes associated with menopause and guiding personalised treatment options
  • Men experiencing low testosterone: Men who suspect low testosterone levels or are experiencing symptoms like reduced libido, fatigue, muscle weakness, or mood disturbances can consider the DUTCH test. It evaluates testosterone levels and provides a comprehensive assessment of hormone metabolites, offering insights into hormonal imbalances that may contribute to low testosterone symptoms
  • Individuals with adrenal fatigue or stress-related symptoms: The DUTCH test is beneficial for individuals experiencing adrenal fatigue, chronic stress, or stress-related symptoms like fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, or difficulty coping with stress. It measures cortisol levels and evaluates adrenal function, providing insights into the body's stress response and helping to identify potential imbalances or dysregulation in the adrenal glands

Individuals seeking to optimise their hormone levels:

  • Athletes: Athletes who strive to enhance their performance and recover from intense training can benefit from the DUTCH test. It provides insights into hormone levels, including testosterone and cortisol, which play a crucial role in athletic performance, muscle growth, and recovery. Understanding these hormone levels can help athletes tailor their training, nutrition, and supplementation strategies to optimise their performance
  • Individuals seeking to improve fertility: For individuals or couples planning to conceive or experiencing fertility challenges, the DUTCH test can offer valuable information. It assesses hormone levels related to fertility, such as oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, providing insights into potential hormonal imbalances that may affect reproductive health. Identifying and addressing these imbalances can support fertility optimisation and increase the chances of successful conception
  • Optimisers: Individuals who are proactive about their health and seek to optimise their hormone levels and overall well-being can consider the DUTCH test. By gaining a comprehensive understanding of their hormonal status, they can identify any imbalances or deviations from the optimal range. This information allows them to implement targeted interventions, such as lifestyle modifications, nutritional adjustments, or hormone therapy if necessary, to achieve optimal hormone levels and support long-term wellness

It's important to note that while these groups can benefit from the DUTCH test, anyone interested in understanding their hormonal health and optimising their well-being can consider taking the test. Consulting with a healthcare professional or functional medicine practitioner can help determine if the DUTCH test is suitable for specific health concerns and individualised treatment plans.

Understanding and optimising our hormones is crucial for overall health and well-being. The DUTCH test provides a revolutionary approach to hormone testing, offering comprehensive insights into hormone levels, adrenal function, and oestrogen metabolism. 

By harnessing the valuable information provided by this advanced test, our practitioners can work with you to develop personalised treatment plans to address hormone imbalances and enhance overall wellness. If you're curious about the DUTCH test or any of the other functional tests we offer, contact Melbourne Functional Medicine and a member of our team would be happy to guide you.

rebecca hughes functional medicine practitioner sky blue top scarf standing smiling
About 
Rebecca Hughes
Rebecca is committed to high-quality, results-driven health care to her patients. She brings a wealth of clinical experience to the treatment of a range of health conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, period pain, PMS, menopause, thyroid conditions, IBS and metabolic conditions.
Read full bio
Have something to add, or want to ask
Rebecca Hughes
something? Join the conversation in the comments below and we'd be delighted to chat.
Have something to add, or want to ask
us
something? Join the conversation in the comments below and we'd be delighted to chat.
{ "datePublished": "Aug 03, 2023" }