What Is Testosterone?
Testosterone is the main sex hormone for men. It helps the male reproductive system function normally and is also responsible for facial and body hair, sex drive, voice depth, energy level, muscle mass, aggression and bone density. Although it’s about 20 times less than the amount produced in men, women also produce testosterone.
People who want to bypass doctor’s appointments or lab visits may prefer taking a home test because it’s convenient and efficient. You should consider taking a testosterone test because hormone levels change over time. It’s common for men in their mid-30s to have lower levels of testosterone than they had when they were younger. Although it fluctuates with age, monitoring your testosterone levels is important because in men an irregularity or an imbalance can lead to infertility, cardiovascular disease or erectile dysfunction.
Testosterone is crucial for men. If their levels become too low, it’s commonly called “Low T” and can lead to health concerns such as:
- Chronic liver or kidney disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Hormone disorders
- Testicular cancer
- Injury to the testicles
- Low libido
- Reduced physical appearance
Symptoms of Low T in men include:
- Weight gain
- Muscle weakness or loss of muscle
- Low physical stamina and energy
- Low libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Hot flashes
- Breast tissue that has developed
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep disturbance and sleep apnea
- Low self-confidence
- Osteoporosis, bone breaks, or brittle bones
- Muscle mass decrease with body fat increase
- Lack of body or facial hair
- Testicular tumors
Consider ordering a testosterone test if you’re a man who:
- Uses medications or supplements that may affect testosterone levels
- Has difficulty conceiving
- Has a low sex drive
- Suffers from fatigue low energy
- Suffers from erectile dysfunction
Testosterone Testing for Women? Absolutely.
Although many home testosterone tests are marketed to men, there are some that include women. Anyone with low or high testosterone symptoms should consider taking home test kits.
Women can suffer if their testosterone levels are too low. Some of the signs in women include:
- Dry and/or thin skin
- Diminished libido
- Pain during intercourse
- Bodily changes like muscle loss or fat gain
If testosterone levels are too high, women may experience some of the following symptoms:
- Increased facial hair
- Muscle growth
- Changes in menstruation
- Reduction in size of breasts
- Voice getting deeper
Popular companies that sell home testosterone test kits include:
- ZRT Laboratories
- Let’s Get Checked
- Health Test Express
Most of the test kits offered check your levels of free testosterone and cost about $55-$70. However, ZRT Labs sells two tests:
- One test checks only free testosterone.
- The other (Dual Testosterone Hormone Test Kit) tests free testosterone and total testosterone. This is more expensive, costing about $110.
And ZRT isn’t the only company with more than one test that checks testosterone. In addition to the basic testosterone test that will give you your free testosterone levels, some companies sell test kits that check several markers, only one of which is free testosterone. These kits include metabolism, men’s health, and men’s hormones tests. Prices are usually more expensive than the test kit that checks only testosterone, ranging from about $90-$140.
Another company that sells testosterone test kits is Progene. You can purchase their kits on their website for $59, or at Wal-Mart for $33. There aren’t many—if any—reviews for this brand yet, however.
Your test results will compare your testosterone levels with a reference range for testosterone levels in your age group. You’ll receive information detailing if your testosterone is high, normal or low compared to the reference ranges.
For some home testosterone test kits, your results will also include guidance and advice about changes you can make to your lifestyle that may positively affect your testosterone levels.
All test companies remind patients that results are meant for informational purposes only. To reach a proper diagnosis and get necessary treatment, you need to share your results with your healthcare provider. That way, you can learn more about how to move forward if further action is necessary.
Most companies sell their home test kits online through their websites or Amazon. One company also offers their test kit at Wal-Mart. If you order your kit online, expect it to arrive at your doorstep in 1-3 shipping days. In an effort to maintain your privacy, most companies mail their test kits in unmarked boxes. The box may say the company’s name, but not what the test is for.
Collect a sample.
Follow the instructions in the kit for how to collect the sample. Most companies include a link to a video online if additional help collecting the sample is needed. Some home testosterone test kits require a saliva sample and some require a blood spot sample. Woman who take the test should collect their saliva on day 19, 20, or 21 of their cycle. Men can collect their saliva on any day of the month, but most tests ask that the saliva sample be collected shortly after waking up. To help capture the saliva, try thinking about something that makes you salivate, such as your favorite food. Once the saliva is in your mouth, lean your head forward and use your tongue to push the saliva down and into the collection tube included in the kit. You may need to do this several times to reach the required amount of saliva before replacing the lid on the collection tube.
Package and mail your sample.
Your kit will have directions for how to properly package your sample. Some companies ask that you fill in your information on the sample before mailing it back so be sure to follow any additional instructions at this point. Once that’s complete, place it in the pre-paid envelope and put it in the mail.
Wait for your results.
Most companies promise that your results will arrive within 3-7 business days after the lab receives your kit. You will receive your results via email or on the company’s secure, password-protected online account.
The results from your test will compare your levels of testosterone to normal ranges. Many companies work with reputable and/or CLIA-certified labs to ensure results. Some companies boast about a 97% accuracy rate with their testosterone test results.
Along with your results, you may also receive advice from medical professionals who work with the testing company, or contact information for doctors so you can discuss your results with someone if needed. But all companies recommend sharing the results with your doctor to gain a clearer understanding of your testosterone levels and begin any treatment, if needed.