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- Best overall: LetsGetChecked
- Best for sleep and stress management: Everlywell
- Best for budget: Verisana
- Best for rapid results: HealthConfirm
- Best for next steps: Thorne
Stressed? You’re not alone. A recent report from the American Psychological Association found that 84 percent of U.S. adults reported feeling prolonged stress since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stress can be attributed in part to cortisol, which is known as the stress hormone. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands, which sit on top of your kidneys, and is one of the hormones responsible for the fight-or-flight response.
Your body releases cortisol when it’s stressed. High stress levels over long periods of time can result in high cortisol levels, which can have a negative impact on your health, according to
The American Heart Association recently released a scientific statement that highlighted the ways in which psychological health, such as stress, affects heart and brain health. The statement cited studies that found that work-related stress, for example, resulted in a 40 percent increased risk of heart disease.
One way to manage stress is to test your cortisol production levels through an at-home cortisol test.
At-home cortisol tests are used to check if your cortisol production levels are too high or too low.
Too much or too little cortisol can be a sign of an adrenal gland disorder. These disorders include Cushing syndrome, which is when your body makes too much cortisol, and Addison disease, which is when your body doesn’t make enough cortisol.
At-home cortisol tests can be a good way to check your cortisol levels and gain insight into what may be causing the symptoms you’re experiencing before visiting your doctor.
Cortisol levels vary throughout the day. They are typically highest when you wake up in the morning and gradually decrease as the day goes on.
Because of this, most at-home cortisol tests require you to collect a sample first thing in the morning. Others may ask that you collect a sample at several points during the day. Your doctor may also instruct you to take the test at a certain point of the day, depending on if they think you’re making too much or too little cortisol.
The collection methods for at-home cortisol tests vary. Some require a blood sample, while others use saliva or urine.
Result times also vary. After sending back your sample, expect to get the results from an at-home cortisol test back in anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks.
You may want to take an at-home cortisol test depending on the symptoms you’re experiencing.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, consider testing your cortisol levels.
An at-home cortisol test can also be an insightful way to understand how your body responds to stress.
If you’ve been diagnosed with either Cushing syndrome or Addison disease, your doctor may also recommend testing your cortisol levels regularly.
When choosing an at-home cortisol test, you’ll want to keep in mind the method you’ll be using, the ease of the collection process, and how informative the results are.
These are all considerations we made when determining the best at-home cortisol tests.
To select the best, we read various research studies and read dozens of reviews.
Some insurance plans may cover the cost of at-home cortisol tests. Unless otherwise noted, the prices listed reflect out-of-pocket costs.
- $ = under $100
- $$ = $100–$150
- $$$ = over $150
- Price: $
- Collection method: Blood
- Results: 5 days
LetsGetChecked provides a thorough way to test your cortisol levels in the comfort of your own home. The company’s at-home cortisol test requires collecting a blood sample using a finger prick.
After ordering and receiving your test, you’ll need to activate it so that it’s linked to you when it goes through the testing process.
The sample must be collected between 6 and 10 a.m. Monday through Thursday and returned on the same day. This test measures your cortisol level in the morning, so it’s essential to follow instructions to ensure accuracy.
LetsGetChecked also notes that participating in intense physical activity the day before collecting your sample can result in increased cortisol levels.
A team of nurses is available to assist with the collection process and go over your results, which are reviewed by a team of physicians. Customer reviews cited the clinical support as a reason why the process went smoothly.
Best for sleep and stress management
- Price: $$$
- Collection method: Urine
- Results: Within days
Everlywell’s at-home cortisol test is ideal for those who may be experiencing difficulties with their sleep cycle and stress management.
The test is a comprehensive panel that measures cortisol, cortisone, melatonin, and creatinine. The combination of these hormones contribute to your sleep cycle and stress response.
The urine sample measures these hormones at four points in your day: morning, afternoon, evening, and night. This is meant to give you more insight into how your body may be functioning throughout the day. For instance, if your cortisol shows an elevation in the afternoon, then that could signal a stressor in your day.
Reviews of the at-home cortisol test on Everlywell’s website say that the process was quick and easy. Some customers also appreciate that they could use the results to relay health information to their doctor without going into an office.
Best for budget
- Price: $
- Collection method: Saliva
- Results: 3 weeks
Verisana makes it easy to check your cortisol levels at home. Priced at under $50, this at-home cortisol test is best for those who don’t want to spend a ton of money.
Verisana’s test analyzes the morning values of cortisol through a saliva sample. You should receive your test in 5 to 7 days. Once you send it back, you’ll receive results to your email in around 3 weeks.
All the tests listed in this article, save for Verisana, use Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments, or CLIA, certified labs, which means they’re held to a certain degree of quality standards and regulations.
Verisana doesn’t work with insurance providers. However, the company claims that their prices are typically lower than the out-of-pocket costs if you’re tested in person.
Best for rapid results
- Price: $
- Collection method: Saliva
- Results: 3 to 5 days
HealthConfirm delivers rapid and detailed results that aim to make the testing process convenient and transparent. There’s no prescription or doctor’s visit needed to order your at-home cortisol test.
After collecting your saliva sample first thing in the morning and sending it back to HealthConfirm, you’ll receive your results in 3 to 5 business days after the lab receives the sample.
HealthConfirm will send you a detailed report with actionable insights. The report will show your cortisol levels and includes notes from a certified medical review officer.
Best for next steps
- Price: $$
- Collection method: Saliva
- Results: 7 to 9 days
Not only does Thorne make the collection process simple, but their at-home cortisol test delivers actionable results.
After an independent, board certified physician analyzes your results, Thorne will come up with a personalized plan of action based on the outcome. The custom plan will include dietary, exercise, and supplement recommendations.
Customer reviews praise the custom recommendations and holistic approach.
Thorne’s at-home cortisol test analyzes cortisol levels and DHEA, which is another hormone produced by the adrenal glands, by measuring four saliva samples collected throughout the day.
Are tests accurate?
The results of your at-home cortisol test are processed in the same labs that a doctor’s office uses, so they’re generally accurate.
However, the accuracy can depend on the type of test and collection method.
If you receive your results and are unsure if they’re accurate or not, most test providers offer to review your results with you.
It’s also a good idea to consult with your doctor after taking the test if you need more insight or guidance for next steps.
Are at-home cortisol tests better or worse than in person?
When you’re cortisol is tested at a doctor’s office, it’s typically done using a blood sample. Most at-home cortisol tests are collected through a saliva sample, though a few may use urine or blood samples as their testing method.
Getting tested at a doctor’s office or hospital is generally more accurate than a self-collected test. However, an at-home cortisol test is efficient and can be used to gather insight before visiting your doctor.
Are tests covered by insurance?
Most at-home test providers do not work with insurance companies and are not covered by insurance. However, some providers, like Everlywell, accept health savings account (HSA) and flexible savings account (FSA) payments.
To find out if your health insurance will cover an at-home cortisol test, it’s best to reach out to them directly.
Occasionally checking your cortisol levels can be helpful, especially if you’re experiencing stress.
At-home cortisol tests are a convenient and efficient way to monitor your stress and adjust accordingly. However, if you’re experiencing several symptoms, it’s best to visit your doctor.
Sam Lauron is a freelance lifestyle writer based in Austin, TX. When she’s not writing about wellness, creativity, or personal development, she spends her time reading, listening to true crime podcasts, and soaking up the sunny Austin weather with her partner and their dog. Connect with her on Instagram or Twitter, or by visiting her website.