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Did you know you could test your cortisol levels at home? We rounded up the best at-home tests so you don’t have to. We also tested LetsGetChecked’s product. See which test fits you best.

Stress can be attributed, in part, to cortisol, which is the stress hormone responsible for the fight-or-flight response.

One way to manage stress is to test your cortisol production levels through an at-home cortisol test. While you shouldn’t self-diagnose a medical or mental health condition, these types of tests may provide information you can discuss further with a doctor.

At-home test
and price
Hormones testedCollection methodResultsWhy we chose it
LetsGetChecked Cortisol Test
cortisolfinger prick2–5 daysinstructions are easy to understand, and you receive confidential results via their secure platform
myLAB Box Adrenal Stress Test
cortisol and DHEAsaliva2–5 daysquick turnaround for results and easy sample collection
HRT.org Cortisol Saliva Test
from $86
cortisolsaliva5–7 daysmost affordable at-home test option
RxHomeTest Diurnal Cortisol Test
cortisolsalivawithin 5 business daysa quick and easy way to test your cortisol levels over 24 hours

The at-home testing market is becoming more popular, and numerous options are available. So, to ensure we chose the best at-home cortisol tests, we considered the following:

  • Laboratory standards: We prioritized companies that use Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certified labs, meaning they meet government guidelines for quality standards.
  • Ease of use: We included tests that are simple to use and provide clear instructions.
  • Privacy: We ensured that each brand valued data protection and used privacy measures such as discreet packaging.
  • Medical support: Wherever possible, we’ve included companies that offer support when results are out of range, such as phone or telehealth consultation.
  • Reviews: Lastly, we read customer reviews to get a sense of user satisfaction and only included those with great feedback.

What is cortisol, again?

Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone. It plays a vital role in the body by maintaining blood pressure and blood sugar. It breaks down carbohydrates, lipids (fats), and proteins. Cortisol can even help fight infections.

The two small glands above your kidneys — your adrenal glands — make cortisol.

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According to a 2018 study, high stress levels over long periods of time can result in high cortisol levels, which can negatively affect your health. If your cortisol levels are too high or too low, you may notice some symptoms and a decline in your health. You may also have a disorder in your adrenal glands, which can be serious if left untreated.

What do high and low cortisol levels feel like?

Symptoms that may indicate low or high cortisol levels can include severe fatigue, high blood pressure, and low blood sugar.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, consider testing your cortisol levels.

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 a doctor. It could also be an insightful way to understand how your body responds to stress.

Too much or too little cortisol can be a sign of an adrenal gland disorder.

These disorders include Cushing syndrome, when your body makes too much cortisol, and Addison’s disease, when your body doesn’t make enough cortisol.

If you have Cushing syndrome or Addison’s disease, a doctor may also recommend testing your cortisol levels regularly.

Cortisol levels vary throughout the day. They’re typically highest when you wake up in the morning, and they 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.

A 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. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when taking the test.

After sending back your sample, you can expect to get the results from an at-home cortisol test in anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks.

When choosing an at-home cortisol test, it’s important to consider the following factors:

  • the legitimacy and reputation of the company
  • whether the company uses CLIA certified labs
  • your preferred collection method (saliva, urine, or blood)
  • the estimated timeline to get results and whether you want them quickly
  • your budget
  • HSA or FSA purchasing options
  • customer reviews and feedback

A typical cortisol value in a blood sample taken at 8 a.m. is 5–25 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL) or 140–690 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L).

Results may depend on a variety of factors, including the time of the test and the clinical context.

A healthcare professional can best explain your unique results and what they mean for your health. It’s important to remember to not stop any medication without consulting your healthcare professional

While home testing is a convenient method for checking your cortisol, it may be best to see a doctor first if you’re experiencing severe symptoms of possible low or high cortisol. These may include sudden, unexplained weight changes, darkened areas of your skin, or significant changes in mood.

You can talk with a doctor if you decide to take an at-home cortisol test and you receive abnormal results. They may order follow-up tests and determine an appropriate treatment plan. It’s also important to communicate any at-home test results with a doctor if you’re currently being treated for Cushing syndrome or Addison’s disease.

Finally, if you receive normal at-home cortisol results but still don’t feel right, you can make an appointment with a doctor to help determine what could be the underlying cause of your symptoms.

You can test cortisol levels at home, but the results shouldn’t replace a consultation with a healthcare professional.

At-home cortisol tests are available online. These tests require collecting a sample of blood, urine, or saliva and sending it to the test company’s lab.

The results of your at-home cortisol test are processed in the same labs that a doctor’s office uses, so they should be 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, most test services offer to review your results with you.

It’s also a good idea to talk with a doctor after taking the test if you need more insight or guidance on next steps.

When your 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.

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. You can use one to gather insight before visiting a doctor.

Most at-home test services don’t work with insurance companies, and insurance generally doesn’t cover them. However, some services, such as Everlywell, accept HSA and FSA payments.

To find out whether your health insurance covers an at-home cortisol test, it’s best to reach out to them directly.

At-home cortisol testing generally comes with few risks. If the test uses a blood sample, there’s the possibility of bruising or bleeding.

These tests are generally very accurate, but there’s the chance that you may receive false-positive or false-negative results due to the sample collection process or shipping.

Remember, this type of testing is not a substitute for a visit with a primary care doctor.

Unless you have a diagnosis of Cushing syndrome or Addison’s disease, you don’t need to test your cortisol levels regularly.

A doctor will give you specific instructions on the type of test to take, what time to take it, and how regularly you need to get tested.

They may recommend testing twice in 1 day or multiple times over several days since cortisol levels vary.

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 talk with a doctor.