Imbalanced hormones affect more than just our periods. They can creep into every corner of our bodies, causing unexplained weight gain, fatigue, irregular sleep, anxiety, and digestive issues to name a few.
So whether you're in the throes of perimenopause, wondering why you stopped getting your period in your 20s or 30s, or simply want to know how balanced your hormones really are, there's a path that can get you answers: the dried urine test for comprehensive hormones, or DUTCH, test.
Why go DUTCH?
Often considered the gold standard of hormone testing, the DUTCH test has been in existence for more than a decade. It's often used by naturopathic and functional healthcare providers to look at virtually every hormone in the body from adrenals to sex glands, taking a deeper dive to uncover—and potentially fix—hormonal imbalances.
What's nice about the DUTCH test is that you can order it online and have it sent directly to you. Rather than pee into a cup in a doctor's office, you simply follow the instructions given with the test and do it at home.
The test is much more comprehensive than typical testing done in a traditional doctor's office. It also aims at balancing hormones naturally, rather than using traditional medicine to mask symptoms.
How DUTCH works
Once you have the test in hand, you'll need to wait until almost the end of your cycle to start. The ideal window is between days 19 and day 22, so you'll ideally have some sense of when that happens. If you're male or postmenopausal, you can take the test any day of the month.
You'll get five pieces of filter paper with your test, and you'll write down when you've collected samples (it's best to write on the paper beforehand, but be careful not to touch the filter paper part). There are specific times of day collections occur, which are tied to your cycle. You'll collect twice the first collection day—at dinner and bedtime—and then three times the second collection day.
To collect, you simply pee on a piece of filter paper and find a spot for it to dry for 24 hours. Once they're all dry, you can pack it all up and ship it to your chosen lab or healthcare professional for testing.
DUTCH testing prep tips
Similar to many other types of tests, you'll need to significantly lower your water intake—avoiding fluids for 2 hours before collecting each sample—and avoid certain foods that can affect test results.
Here are some tips to make it the best experience possible:
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine on testing days.
- Keep fluids to a minimum, or less than 32 ounces on the first day and less than 8 ounces between waking and 2 hours after waking on the second day.
- Skip foods that can affect test results, including avocado, bananas, and fava beans.
- Read the supplements and medications list that comes with the test to make sure you're not taking anything that could interfere with results.
It can be a challenge to avoid water, caffeine and alcohol for a day or so, but it's totally worth it because you'll know your hormones inside and out—which can be truly life changing.