I give all of my male clients over 30 the advice to do testosterone tests before planning out their supplement stacks.
Because low testosterone levels have such a profound impact on managing weight and bulking up, it’s the one area to focus on first.
Now, most people then start thinking about the cost of blood tests with doctors, but there is another way.
Testosterone testing is possible with mail-in home test kits. And because you may want to take measurements several times throughout your training program, this is also the most convenient way.
But you also need to be aware of some downsides.
- You can easily check for low testosterone levels at home, but you have to be careful with the type of test kits you choose.
- A home testosterone kit will either use a blood or saliva sample to provide a reasonably accurate reading.
- There are cost savings with home testosterone test kits, but they shouldn’t be used as a way to self-diagnose a disease.
How Do At-Home Testosterone Kits Work?
While all of these testosterone kits will have their own instructions, they generally follow the same kind of process.
1. Order A Test Kit
The first thing you need to do is choose a suitable and certified lab that offers a mail-in service to check your testosterone level. Usually, these kits arrive within 2 to 3 days.
2. Take A Sample
Depending on whether you picked a home blood test or saliva testing, the collection process will work in a different way.
Saliva samples usually involve spitting into a small tube with a level indicator to make sure that you supply a large enough sample.
Blood testing usually involves a finger prick test like people with diabetes do to measure their blood sugar. You’ll need to drain a few drops of blood into the provided tube to send off.
3. Activate The Test Process
Usually, you need to log into an app or a webpage where you register the kit with a serial number and indicate that it’s ready for collection.
This generally involves providing your address details to ensure it’s efficiently collected.
4. Send Off The Sample
Usually, a courier service will collect the sample and make sure that it gets to the laboratory testing center within the right time limit to ensure that the sample doesn’t become void.
This is particularly important with blood samples.
5. Wait For Results
Then, it’s time to wait for the sample report. Depending on the testing methods, this could take anywhere from 2 to 5 days after your saliva or blood testing sample was collected.
What Do Test Results Reveal?
There are two things that home testosterone testing will reveal to you. And it’s important to understand these things so that you don’t misinterpret the results.
It’s not so much about whether you have low testosterone or high testosterone.
Let me explain.
Total Testosterone Levels
The total testosterone amount is an indication of how effective your body is at producing a certain range of T-levels .
But not all of the T-cells that you produce end up freely circulating your body looking for a receptor.
Some of it will bind to enzymes and thereby become less effective.
So, just because your total T- levels are in a normal range doesn’t mean that it’s all doing what it’s supposed to do.
Related: Does Low Testosterone Make You Angry?
Free Testosterone Levels
This indicates how much of the T-cells freely circulate in your blood serum and will tell you whether other underlying conditions impact hormone levels .
For example, you could have a normal total reading but a low free reading, indicating that you don't have an issue with production but with binding enzymes.
Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) is one such culprit that could excessively bind to T-cells and transform them into estrogen.
That’s why it’s important to look at both numbers of the results report.
“Most circulating testosterone is bound to sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), which, in men, also is called testosterone-binding globulin. A lesser fraction is albumin-bound, and a small proportion exists as free hormone.” - mayocliniclabs.com.
Advantages Of Home Testosterone Tests
Here are the main reasons that we tell our clients in favor of an at-home test.
Testosterone levels vary throughout the day, and generally, the best time to take a test sample is first thing in the morning. The reason is that the body produces most testosterone during hours of sleep.
But you might not always find it’s possible to get an appointment with a doctor at that time.
And if you don’t take multiple samples at the same time, then you could get an inaccurate decreased testosterone result.
Getting blood drawn usually involves going to your local clinic and meeting a doctor or nurse.
And unless you have some severe symptoms of low testosterone that impact your overall health, that might not be the most convenient option.
If you think that you’re just outside normal testosterone levels and could do with some form of a boost, then these home kits are an ideal solution.
While the purchase price of a blood and saliva test can vary a lot, these tests are generally a lot cheaper than going to your doctor.
That makes it an ideal solution if you want to keep monitoring the effectiveness of a T-booster on your hormone levels.
Traditional test measures could easily cost 3 or 4 times as much as a kit.
Disadvantages Of Home Testosterone Tests
Here are three downsides to be aware of.
Not all labs are CLIA certified (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments), and that means that you need to do a bit more homework before you pick a specific test kit.
There’s also the question of how reliably the courier will collect your sample, as late collections could ultimately lead to inaccurate results.
There is a certain amount of difference in accuracy between a blood sample and saliva tests. Generally speaking, blood sampling will provide the most accurate results.
But that also requires a much more reliable sample collection and delivery to the lab for testing, so take a close look at how the company handles the transport of the sample.
3. Medical Diagnosis
If you get a result with low levels, you cannot use that as an indication for having medical conditions like pituitary gland disorder, male hypogonadism, or thyroid problems.
You should also not take that as an indication that you’re at an increased risk of heart disease.
Those are things you should only discuss with medical professionals and may require testosterone therapy.
How Can You Check My Testosterone Levels without a Test?
There’s no way to check your total or free testosterone without a test. What you can do is look out for symptoms of low T-levels, like body hair loss, mood swings, reduced sperm production, and bone density issues. But a test is the only way to confirm it.
Are Home Testosterone Kits Reliable?
Yes, an at-home testosterone test kit should be reliable enough for deciding on taking a supplement. They shouldn’t be used for making a medical diagnosis; you should only do that with the help of professional medical advice.
Are You Going To Order A T-Level Test?
Whether you’ve been struggling to maintain muscle mass or your bedroom performance has gone down, the best way to check if you should consider taking testosterone supplements is with a simple blood or saliva testing.
Once you know your free testosterone, you can take simple actions to get the healthiest life possible.
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