Having low testosterone can have all kinds of deleterious effects on the male body – as we age, and our natural T levels decrease, we experience symptoms ranging from higher fat mass to lower body composition, reduced sexual potency and diminished mood and cognition.
There are many different types of at home testosterone tests out there, but we’ll examine the pros and cons of two of the most prominent brands out there: EverlyWell and Let’s Get Checked. Whether you go with one of their tests, or an entirely different one altogether, it would benefit you to know what at home testosterone tests are, what they do, and how you can get one.
WHAT ARE AT HOME TESTOSTERONE TESTS?
While many professional testosterone tests check your blood for hormone levels, at home testosterone tests use your saliva instead, allowing for a simple and non-invasive way to perform the test yourself. Depending on the product, how much saliva you collect and how you collect it may vary. From there, users must mail off their samples to the company’s lab for testing; results can come back anywhere from several days to several weeks.
These tests can be quite useful for those who want to check their testosterone levels before they see a doctor or hormone specialist. They may not want to waste a doctor’s visit on a non-issue or feel pressured into committing to hormone therapy before they’re sure they need it. Either way, at home testosterone kits are straightforward, useful first steps in anyone’s journey to optimize their testosterone levels.
While at home testosterone kits are useful, it is important to remember that home tests are invariably less accurate than those performed by professionals. According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, blood tests are still the most accurate way to check hormone levels; current research indicates that saliva testing has much greater variability in its results.
However, other studies indicate that saliva testing is often a preferable option for patients, because of the reduced stress that comes from such a non-invasive collection method. There is even research that indicates that saliva is just as reliable as sweat, tears, urine and other bodily fluids for checking hormone levels.
If you do decide to try an at home testosterone test, there are several options out there on the market. Two of the most prominent examples are the EverlyWell At Home Testosterone Test and the Let’s Get Checked Testosterone Test – let’s look at them for an overall outline of what to expect from these kinds of products.
EverlyWell’s at home testosterone test costs $59 and collects saliva to measure free testosterone levels in the body. The process is simple: you get the kit in the mail, register the kit at EverlyWell’s website, complete the saliva sample and return it to the company, where independent board-certified physicians review your results. Once the results are determined and verified, you can check them on your EverlyWell account.
The EverlyWell at home testosterone test carries with it a lot of positives – the testing is easy, complete with video instructions, and their customer service is comprehensive. The results are quick, with an extremely fast turnaround of less than a week in some cases.
However, because the test only checks for free testosterone, you do not get the full picture of your testosterone levels, nor how they truly affect your health. With this test, you get little to no picture of how much testosterone is in your body, including your levels of the sex hormone binding globulin (SBHG) which controls the body’s available testosterone levels.
That being said, the EverlyWell test’s emphasis on free testosterone at least places the focus in the right place, as free testosterone is the type of T that is available for your body to use. If you want to know your current testosterone production, measuring your free testosterone is the way to go.
LET’S GET CHECKED
The Let’s Get Checked kit, on the other hand, actually asks you to draw blood instead of saliva – a change from most at home testosterone kits. While it costs more than the EverlyWell kit ($69), Let’s Get Checked Testosterone Test offers a test of your total testosterone levels, so you can get a comprehensive idea of your hormone production.
However, it does not test for free testosterone or SHBG; while you get a better idea of your total testosterone levels, it is harder to evaluate the specifics of how your existing testosterone is being used – whether it is bound to SHBG proteins, or free to be used in the body.
The kit works in a similar way to EverlyWell; you get the test in the mail, follow the easy to use video instructions to take blood samples, and ship them off to their lab. You then get the results on the Let’s Get Checked App once the lab is finished evaluating their samples.
While the Testosterone Test doesn’t check for free testosterone, Let’s Get Checked also offers the Male Hormone kit, which works in a similar fashion but measures SHBG and free androgens/testosterone, albeit for a much higher price ($139). While these may cost more, they offer a more comprehensive and accurate brand of at home testosterone kit than EverlyWell.
These two brands are just some examples of the kinds of at home testosterone tests you can use. You can go for more affordable, stripped-down options like EverlyWell’s test, or go for the expensive and invasive but accurate blood tests of Let’s Get Checked. The most important thing to keep in mind, however, is that these tests are merely the beginning of a more rigorous hormone therapy regimen; if you find you have low testosterone and want to take steps to address it, please consult your doctor or a trusted hormone specialist.