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Roman Review 2020: All about Roman’s health services and products

Find out how Roman stacks up against competitors like Hims

Last Updated: Jul 6, 2020

Roman Review

Roman has quickly become one of the big players in men’s telehealth, offering many men a convenient way to access healthcare online and get health products discreetly in the mail. Roman focuses primarily on sexual health, hair loss treatments and allergies, while also offering a cool weight loss product and a little bit of broader health support as well.

Should you get on the bandwagon? We thoroughly tested Roman and in this review we’ll lay out the pros, cons and all details to help you decide if Roman is right for you or your loved one.

Review Summary

Pros

  • Convenience of having a doctor’s visit without any trip to the office.
  • Access to treatments that are shown to work.
  • Free follow-ups messaging with Ro doctors, who are licensed in the U.S. and undergo rigorous background checks.
  • Free 2-day shipping using the Ro pharmacy network.
  • Your care is totally confidential, and the packaging is discreet.
  • Roman’s Medical Advisory Board includes recognized experts, even a former U.S. Surgeon General.
  • Patient-centric care – Doctors aren’t financially incentivized to prescribe anything.

Cons

  • $15 charge for initial consultation (something that competitors offer for free).
  • Not available in all U.S. states.
  • Not covered by insurance (though the $15 fee is less than typical copays).
  • Doesn’t offer primary care at this time. Your Roman doctor visits are an accompaniment to – not a replacement of – your primary care provider.

Bottom line

We can recommend Roman for men who are looking for a convenient, affordable and high-quality way to access medical care for allergies and weight management. When it comes to treatments for sexual health and hair loss, online competition is stiffer and Roman at this time doesn’t beat the competition.

Roman’s supplement offerings could provide some benefit, but for us the most recommendable aspect of Roman is the access it provides to supportive doctors and effective prescription allergy treatments. Roman is part of a movement that hopefully gets more of us engaged in proactively maintaining our health, despite our busy schedules, since talking to a doctor is as simple as getting on your computer or phone. Medicine can ship quickly, straight to your doorstep.

Why you should trust us

Innerbody Research recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary online. Over the past two decades, we have helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions involving staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles.

This review, like all medical-related content on this website, was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for medical accuracy. Additionally we extensively test, experience and order from each medical service we review. We try our best to give you unbiased, marketing-jargon-free descriptions of all the at-home health services evaluated based on the latest scientific evidence and medical standards.

Who is Roman

Founded in 2017, Roman is the men’s health offering of Ro, a telehealth company that also owns women’s health offering Rory as well as Zero, a telehealth service focused on helping people quit smoking. It’s hard to watch Ro’s rise and not conclude that the age of telehealth has arrived in a big way.

Roman lets you tap into Ro’s network of licensed U.S. doctors in order to offer a solid – though not exhaustive – array of quality treatments in men’s sexual health, allergy, hair loss and weight management.

The rise of quality, trustworthy telehealth companies like Roman and its siblings has provided a way for people to access prescription drugs like Viagra without having to worry if the medications are real or counterfeit – and without any of the potential self-consciousness of in-person trips to the pharmacy. The establishment of private and secure pathways to have virtual visits with a network of qualified doctors has been a game-changer.

After you get started with Roman, if your consulting Ro doctor prescribes you a medication, you can reach out to get help and answers from Ro doctors throughout your treatment. Unlimited messaging – text, audio, even video – is a service that Roman provides to its members.

As mentioned above, the main focal points for men’s health via Roman right now are in the areas of:

  • Sexual health
  • Hair loss
  • Allergy

There are a few other health products offered by Roman as well. Among these, we were most impressed by the weight loss product, Plenity. Roman offers a few supportive supplements to boost cardio, bone and prostate health, too.

Allergy care via Roman

Roman offers several allergy treatments upon consultation:

  • Azelastine nasal spray (generic Astelin)
  • Fluticasone nasal spray (generic Flonase)
  • Levocetirizine pills (generic Xyzal)
  • Montelukast pills (generic Singulair)

Our testers found Roman’s allergy care to be quite valuable and were impressed by it.

Roman for Sexual Health

Within sexual health, Roman offers consultation and treatment for:

  • Erectile dysfunction (ED)
  • Premature ejaculation (PE)
  • Genital herpes
  • Cold sores

Roman's treatments for hair loss

Hair loss treatments from Roman include:

  • Finasteride (generic Propecia)
  • Minoxidil (generic Rogaine)
  • Finasteride + minoxidil, a combination treatment

Your doctor consultation will determine which treatment would serve you best.

Three quick truths about all of these hair loss treatment paths (or any other hair loss treatment, for that matter):

  1. The sooner you act, the better for your outcome.

  2. If you don’t take as directed, problems occur (either the treatment is less effective or produces unwanted side effects).

  3. When you stop the treatment, your hair loss will resume.

Roman's ED treatments

More than half of men will deal with ED in their lives, so Roman offers three different pathways to treat ED. All of these medications are PDE5 inhibitors; they combat ED in the same fashion, by increasing blood flow to your penis and decreasing blood flow from it. This effectively allows men to get and keep their erection.

  • Sildenafil (generic form of Viagra) – ranging from $2/dose to $10/dose
  • Viagra (sildenafil) – $70/dose
  • Cialis (tadalafil) – ranging from $17/dose to $69/dose

Pricing depends on the strength of the dosage, which is something you and the Roman doctor will determine together, based on medical advice and how well the dosage works for you.

However, from our extensive testing and comparisons among competitors, we recommend Hims more highly than Roman for ED treatments at this time. There are two primary reasons why:

  • Hims does not charge an initial consultation fee, making your visit and prescription process more affordable.
  • Along with all of the aforementioned treatment options, Hims offers an additional treatment – a third PDE5 inhibitor called avanafil (generic Stendra), which acts faster than sildenafil or tadalafil.

Shipping is still free with Hims. For its greater affordability, broader set of choices and equal convenience, Hims wins.

Editors' Choice
Hims

Hims

Hims goes beyond what many competitors offer, with four effective ED treatments. Affordable pricing, free shipping, and no fee.

Hims gives you the same convenience, but more options -- and for less money. Unless you want chewable ED meds (see below) then we are confident Hims is the right choice.

Another option worth exploring – particularly if you think either generic Viagra (sildenafil) or generic Cialis (tadalafil) will be the right choice for your needs – is BlueChew. What makes BlueChew unique is that they are just as affordable and convenient as the other online ED treatment options, but their medicine is chewable, which tends to work faster than the pills you otherwise swallow.

PDE5 inhibitor treatments are effective for most men with ED – all treatments are proven to help about four in five men achieve erections. Experiences can vary from treatment to treatment, however, which is why having options is so valuable. These drugs are prescribed very widely but some common side effects of PDE5 inhibitors may include:

  • Facial reddening (flushing)
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Congestion and flu-like symptoms
Hims Cialis pill pouch

Whether you opt for Hims or Ro, your doctor will determine if it’s safe for you to use one of these treatments, and which one would be best for you. Though they function in the same basic way to treat ED, sildenafil and tadalafil have different drug interactions and contraindications. The doctor will determine which course of treatment is best for you.

It’s important to note, though, that effectiveness isn’t always seen after the first dose; subsequent doses often prove more effective. Sometimes a person needs to take the medication as many as eight different times in order for it to be fully effective. The doctor may suggest you try again, for this very reason, if you don’t experience success the first time. Not only that, but your dosage may be adjusted by the doctor.

You may also notice that the generic version of Viagra (sildenafil) is SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper than brand-name Viagra. This is true of both Roman and Hims.

Premature ejaculation

Premature ejaculation (PE) is a common thing. Many men and their partners deal with premature ejaculation, though unfortunately few admit it. Roman offers a way for men to get treatment very discreetly. There are two treatment options – an over-the-counter topical and a prescription pill.

Roman swipes (topical, non-prescription)

Roman’s swipes for PE act by slightly dulling the sensation of the penis, such that sexual pleasure is still felt but the sensation isn’t as intense, allowing men to last longer. The active ingredient in these swipes is 4% benzocaine, a topical anesthetic. This treatment is great because:

  • It’s safe. Side effects are rare and not serious, though some men are allergic. If you experience a topical allergic reaction, you should stop using it and contact your Ro doctor.
  • It’s discreet. The swipes fit in your pocket and are odorless once dry.
  • It’s fast-acting. Just swipe over sensitive areas and let dry for 5 minutes.
  • It’s effective. After 2 months of use, four out of five men no longer had PE. Average sexual endurance improved from 75 seconds to 5.5 minutes after two months of use. After even one month, average stamina improved to nearly 3 minutes.

Roman sells their swipes for $27/month if you subscribe monthly. Each monthly kit contains 8 swipes. However, if you commit to a 3-month supply (24 swipes), your monthly price is effectively only $22.

Sertraline (generic Zoloft)

Sertraline is what’s referred to as an off-label treatment for premature ejaculation, because it wasn’t designed to treat PE but has been proven effective in delaying orgasm for some male patients. It could be prescribed as daily medication or as-needed. Sertraline won’t be suitable for everyone; there are contraindications, drug interactions, potential side effects and health risks for the doctor to consider. Prescription depends on your doctor’s consultation and whether the Ro doctor considers it right for you, based on your health and medical history.

Roman sells a one-month supply of sertraline for $24.

Genital herpes and cold sores

Valacyclovir (generic Valtrex) is Roman’s solution for cold sores or genital herpes. Valacyclovir is an antiviral medication that works by interrupting the herpes virus’ ability to replicate its DNA. It’s FDA-approved to treat cold sores (oral herpes) and genital herpes (HSV-1 and HSV-2).

Now, valacyclovir won’t cure you of the virus in dormancy, unfortunately, but it effectively destroys the herpes virus that is actively trying to replicate. If you take it when you sense an outbreak is about to happen, the drug will at minimum significantly reduce symptoms and it can also totally prevent the attack.

Valacyclovir is offered at $14 for a single outbreak, or at $42 for a 3-outbreak supply (which we recommend).

Finasteride for hair loss

Roman offers 1mg dosage of prescription finasteride (generic Propecia). Finasteride is technically what is known as a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. This means it blocks an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase.

At the 1mg dosage offered by Roman, finasteride fights male pattern hair loss. $20/month is what it will cost you (shipped and billed quarterly), but Roman gives you the first month free, which is very cool (don’t forget about that $15 consultation fee, though).

However, finasteride alone isn’t our top hair loss treatment for men who want to fight hair loss as aggressively as they can. For this, we recommend a combination of finasteride and minoxidil together (that’s right, you can use them together and to greater effect). And for this, based on our testing, we have to disclose that Hims is a better option for you. You can read more about this combination treatment a couple sections deeper in this review.

How does this help?

5-alpha reductase is what converts normal testosterone into the male sex hormone dihydrotestosterone (better known as DHT). DHT plays a role in male-pattern baldness as well as BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia).

Does finasteride stop hair loss?

In terms of preventing further hair loss, finasteride is perhaps the most effective single treatment available. Four in five men report that finasteride stopped their hair loss at the crown (top of the head), no matter at what stage of hair loss they began treatment. More than two thirds of men enjoyed a freeze in their receding hairline thanks to finasteride.

Does finasteride achieve hair regrowth?

Finasteride regrows hair in about two-thirds of men who take it, though individual success varies depending on the underlying causes of hair loss as well as the stage at which you act. (If your hair follicles are dead, finasteride isn’t going to bring them back from the dead.)

How long does it take?

Finasteride begins working immediately to block DHT in your body. However, it accumulates in your body and full effects won’t be apparent for some time. Why? It’s because our hair follicles take time to produce new hairs. If you take finasteride as directed for 3-4 months, you should start to notice positive effects. And most people see full effects over the second half of the first year of taking the medication. By the end of year one, you will see the full positive effects.

Is finasteride safe?

Finasteride is generally safe. At the 5mg dosage (effective dosage for treating BPH), side effects are more common than at the 1mg dosage for hair loss treatment. But there are possible side effects, which most commonly include lower sex drive, drop in semen volume, and erectile dysfunction. There are other rarer side effects that are more serious.

The first step in getting finasteride from Roman will be consulting with a doctor virtually. You must be honest with the doctor, in order to safely be prescribed finasteride.

Minoxidil for hair loss

Minoxidil (often known by the brand name Rogaine) was one of the earliest treatments for male pattern hair loss. Originally an oral blood pressure medication, minoxidil is prescribed topically for hair loss, specifically at the crown (or top of the head). It actually wasn’t a popular prescription for high blood pressure because the oral version caused too many side effects – among them, unwanted hair growth.

Roman ships minoxidil in 3-month supplies and bills you quarterly at $16/month. However, your first month is free.

Does Roman’s minoxidil beat the competition?

The free month deal from Roman is nice, but it doesn’t make Roman the best option for getting convenient minoxidil for hair loss. If your goal is to order minoxidil by itself, then Keeps is our top pick. Why? At $10/month, Keeps simply saves you money, compared to other competitors like Roman. Since hair loss treatments are only effective if you continue to use them, you should plan to use the minoxidil for quite a while – which means you will save lots of money over time with Keeps.

Best Minoxidil
Keeps

Keeps

For those who want to use minoxidil by itself, Keeps delivers the cheapest monthly minoxidil.

Unless you like to pay more for the same product -- or unless you have a Costco membership, in which case you should buy it there -- then Keeps should be your choice if you want to stick with minoxidil by itself.

How does minoxidil help?

While some of the underlying reasons for minoxidil’s effectiveness are unclear, it’s generally believed that the topical minoxidil promotes increased blood flow to hair follicles that have been weakened from a lack of sufficient blood flow. The increased blood flow feeds your follicles with more oxygen and nutrients in your blood, causing the follicles to strengthen and enlarge and also extending the anagen (growth) stage of a hair follicle.

Does minoxidil stop hair loss?

Minoxidil in studies has proven effective at stopping hair loss for nearly two thirds of men using the 5% strength.

Can minoxidil regrow hair?

Studies suggest minoxidil can regrow hair as well, particularly at the crown and particularly in the 5% strength. At 5%, studies show it helped close to half of men achieve moderate hair regrowth, while close to a fifth of men experience significant regrowth.

Is minoxidil safe?

Minoxidil topically is regarded as quite safe. Only about 2% of it absorbs into your body. Still, some people are more sensitive to minoxidil than other people, and side effects do occur. Skin irritation is the most common side effect. Some people also experience unwanted hair growth elsewhere on their bodies, which typically occurs because the person didn’t follow the instructions about careful handwashing after applying the medication.

Finasteride + minoxidil

Roman offers this combination of hair loss treatments for those who don’t mind taking two drugs simultaneously for hair loss. If your Roman doctor concludes you’re a candidate for both, this is the most powerful hair loss treatment they offer.

Price and competitiveness

Roman’s price is $35/month, billed quarterly, though your first month is free if you opt for this path.

But even with a free month, Roman isn’t our top choice. As mentioned above, Hims offers the better deal on the same combination treatment. This happens to be our editors’ choice for the overall best men’s hair loss treatment that you can get online, and you should choose Hims for it.

What makes it better?

First, the drugs act in totally different ways, and the underlying cause of hair loss isn’t the same for everyone, and it isn’t always clear which treatment will be most successful for a particular person. So by taking both, you increase your chances of stopping hair loss and also regrowing hair. Not only that, but also minoxidil’s effectiveness at preventing receding hairline isn’t as well documented as its success in growing hair at the crown. Meanwhile, finasteride can pick up the slack with your receding hairline, making an effective double-whammy of hair loss treatment.

The drugs don’t interact, so there’s no safety risk from taking both as long as you can tolerate each one separately.

Roman's allergy treatments

Many people suffer from allergies, but evidence suggests that four in five allergy sufferers don’t choose the best over-the-counter allergy medicine to treat their allergies.

Working with Roman, you’ll get a doctor’s help in picking the best treatment for your own allergies. Roman offers several treatment options.

Editors' Choice
Roman

Roman

Roman gives convenient access to prescription allergy relief without having to go to a doctor’s office.

Roman gives you spray treatments and pill-form treatments as options, so that you can work with their doctor to find the best one for your needs. Shipping is free and fast, which is a big relief to allergy sufferers.

Nasal sprays

At Roman, you can get either azelastine (generic Astelin) or fluticasone (generic Flonase). These nasal spray medications are proven effective for treating allergic nasal rhinitis, relieving your symptoms like runny, itchy nose, watery eyes and sneezing.

Pricing is as follows for both azelastine and fluticasone:

  • 1-month supply: $29/month
  • 3-month supply: $19/month

Pill-form medication

Roman also offers two pill-form medicines for allergy relief. Both of these should be taken daily as directed, in the evening. Evening is the best time because some people report drowsiness from the medication.

  • Levocetirizine (generic Xyzal) is an antihistamine. It works by blocking histamine from activating cells’ H1 receptors. This helps to prevent the symptoms of allergies, like runny nose, itchy skin, watery eyes and sneezing.
  • Montelukast (generic Singulair) is a leukotriene receptor antagonist. During an allergic reaction, immune cells release leukotriene D4. Montelukast blocks the leukotriene before it can activate leukotriene receptors. This can relieve and prevent symptoms like nasal and head congestion caused by allergies.

The price for either of these depends again on your plan. Month-to-month is $29/month, while quarterly supplies will cost $19/month.

Roman's weight loss product and health supplements

Plenity for weight loss

Our testers were impressed by Plenity. There are lots of weight loss products on the market, but Plenity is much safer than most, and it’s effective.

  • Plenity contains no stimulants or anything that could be habit-forming.
  • Its ingredients are natural - primarily just citric acid and cellulose.
  • Taking Plenity (pill-form) with a large volume of water before meals will help you feel less hungry, prompting you not to overeat.
  • In a clinical trial, 60% of people saw an average weight loss of about 10 percent of their body weight, which translated to an average 22 pounds of weight loss.

Roman also offers supplements, which are manufactured in the USA by NutraScience. These supplements are formulated to give you a boost, focusing on the following areas:

  • Testosterone support
  • Heart health
  • Bone health
  • Stress relief
  • Prostate health support

Getting started with Roman

As a telehealth company, your entire healthcare experience with Roman is virtual, either online or via their app. Here’s how you can begin.

  1. Go to Roman, select which service or product interests you, and start your visit. The virtual doctor’s visit, to start, is an opportunity for you to answer questions and provide relevant medical information for a doctor in Roman’s network. It takes about 15 minutes. Most of this information is easy to discuss, though some people may not know their recent blood pressure measurement. You’ll also need to provide a photo of yourself and your identification, in order to prove you are who you say you are.

  2. At the end of the ~15 minutes, you’re finally asked to provide payment information. The virtual doctor’s visit will ultimately cost $15 if the doctor reviewing your information determines that you are a good candidate for the treatment. This fee sets Roman apart negatively from its competitors like Hims, who do not charge.

  3. Wait for the doctor to review your medical information. The wait period is less than 24 hours for sure. Most of our testers heard back within just a few minutes. So it’s fast! If needed, you may hear from the doctor with follow-up questions about some information you provided. Some states also require a live chat with the doctor prior to prescribing. If you live in such a state, Roman will inform you.

  4. If you’re a candidate, your order will be completed and you will be billed. If you’re not a candidate for the treatment, you won’t be billed for the $15 medical review.

  5. The Ro pharmacy network handles your order. This is an added convenience… Roman benefits from the Ro pharmacy network so that you can automatically have your prescription filled by them and receive your order in the mail via free 2-day shipping.

Privacy

Like all Ro entities, Roman complies fully with all medical privacy laws. Your information is highly secure and all correspondence and medical information is protected and private. Not only that, but we were impressed by the discreet packaging that Roman uses for shipping its products. From start to finish, your experience is private, as it should be.

What criteria do we use to evaluate home health products and services?

At Innerbody Research, we customize our evaluation criteria depending on the type and nature of the health-related service. For most online healthcare services (also known as telemedicine or telehealth services), we have five areas that we use for our evaluations, including:

Quality: Are the doctors on the service licensed to practice in the US? Are the physicians board-certified in the relevant practice areas? Do they have a high quality medical review board with oversight? Are their treatment options FDA-approved?

Value: Are you getting your money’s worth? Are there any hidden costs or charges? Does the test provider offer discounts or free services to our readers?

Customer support: How well does the healthcare provider help you choose the best treatment? How clearly are the options presented? How well does the healthcare company help you understand options and get treatment if necessary?

Privacy: Are all treatments sent in discreet packaging? Will your data be stored securely? Could your data ever be shared without your permission?

Speed: How fast will you receive your treatment from the moment you click “buy?” Are doctors and medical professionals responsive to your questions and needs when you are messaging them? Are the waiting times stated by the company accurate and consistent?

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