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Feeling out of sorts? It might be time to check your hormones. Hormones are molecules produced in the endocrine system that deliver messages throughout the body to regulate things like fertility, growth, and metabolism.

From chronic fatigue to unexplained weight changes, imbalanced hormones can wreak havoc on your body.

Read on to learn what hormone testing can teach you about your body.

At-home hormone tests can analyze levels of key hormones that impact stress, sleep, weight, mood, and a host of other properties that make up our overall health.

Because the pandemic led many to stay home, at-home testing companies saw a huge boom. According to Axios, the demand for 75 percent of Everlywell’s tests doubled in 2020. LetsGetChecked tests saw an 880 percent boom from 2019.

While the COVID-19 pandemic increased people’s desire to test remotely, the convenient at-home tests can also save time commuting to a doctor’s office.

Fertility

Infertility is a common concern among couples looking to conceive. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 12 percent of women aged 15 to 44 years in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term.

Though infertility isn’t always caused by women in a relationship, the issue is something every couple should consider when trying to conceive.

Fertility tests for women focus on testing the anti-mullerian hormone (AMH), thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), estradiol, free thyroxine (ft4), prolactin, and luteinizing hormone (LH).

While this sounds like a bunch of medical jargon, each hormone has an important purpose in the reproductive system.

AMH is released by cells around your follicles and is the best predictor of your ovarian reserve or egg count. FSH is responsible for starting ovulation, while estradiol is a sex hormone produced by your ovaries. LH is the hormone that keeps your cycle regular and is produced by your pituitary gland.

Testing for thyroid health is also necessary, since the gland can often be the root of pregnancy issues. Low levels of TSH and untreated hypothyroidism can interfere with ovulation, impairing fertility. Thankfully, TSH and ft4 can be adjusted with medication when thyroid disease is present.

Menopause

Similar to fertility tests, menopause tests check your level of FSH. Since your ovaries stop producing eggs when you enter menopause, a test can indicate increased FSH levels.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, testing isn’t a sure-fire way to know you’re experiencing menopause or perimenopause.

These tests will accurately detect FSH about 9 out of 10 times, but, as you get older, your FSH levels may rise and fall during your menstrual cycle.

If you do test for high FSH, it’s best to confirm your test with a doctor and discuss your results.

Thyroid

Though the thyroid gland is small, it is fierce.

The butterfly-shaped gland produces hormones that regulate the body’s metabolic rate. Your thyroid can have an impact on your heart, muscle and digestive function, brain development, mental health, and fertility.

At-home and in-office tests typically check the three main thyroid hormones: TSH, triiodothyronine (T3), and thyroxine (T4).

About 10 million Americans experience hypothyroidism, a condition where the body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. Low thyroid hormone can slow down many organs within the body.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • lethargy
  • depression
  • weight gain
  • low libido
  • hair loss
  • slowed heart rate
  • constipation.

Your body can also produce too much thyroid hormone, resulting in hyperthyroidism.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • restlessness
  • nervousness
  • inability to concentrate
  • difficulty sleeping
  • irregular heartbeat
  • weight loss
  • nausea

Once diagnosed with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, patients can take medication to regulate their thyroid function.

Sleep

For most adults, 7 to 8 hours of sleep is the gold standard for a healthy night’s rest. Anything less can harm your mental and physical well-being.

Hormone tests can measure sleep by testing melatonin levels, a significant hormone in the sleep-wake cycle.

While melatonin is a key indicator of your circadian rhythm, at-home tests may also measure cortisol — the stress hormone — and creatinine.

Stress

At-home stress hormone tests measure cortisol, the hormone that controls your fight-or-flight response. While it ignites our instincts in moments of fear, it also impacts our energy, sleep, and blood pressure.

When your cortisol level is imbalanced, stress can manifest in physical symptoms, like:

  • fatigue
  • insomnia
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • chest pains

An at-home hormone test targeting stress will measure the cortisol level in your body.

Genomics

Genomic tests study DNA, including the structure and function of genes. Rather than providing an ancestry report or basic genetic testing, genomic testing goes a step further to offer insights into all of your genes and how your body works on a molecular level.

Genomic testing can provide risk markers for disease, how likely a disease would spread, and the best treatment options and outcomes.

Genomic testing is often used in cancer patients to predict how aggressive a form of cancer will be, but it can also detect if someone is prone to certain diseases, like Parkinson’s or Celiac.

Testosterone

The testosterone hormone plays a vital role in male bodies by maintaining bone density, muscle mass, libido, fat distribution, and fertility.

Low testosterone can cause a series of issues from erectile dysfunction to depression in men.

Anyone can take at-home tests to measure their testosterone levels and determine if they have the appropriate amount for their age and sex.

Metabolism

At-home metabolism tests measure key hormones that can affect your weight and energy level.

The tests often measure cortisol, free testosterone, and TSH — three hormones that play a significant role in the function of metabolism.

If you’re feeling fatigued or showing significant changes in your weight, a metabolism test is a helpful starting point to get to the bottom of your issues.

The simplicity of at-home hormone tests makes them an easy, effective option. After ordering your test, a box will arrive with thorough instructions to collect testing samples.

Depending on the test selected, you’ll be asked to take a urine sample or blood sample using a finger pricking tool.

Once you finish your test, you’ll ship your results to a lab for review. Results are typically provided online between 2 and 5 business days after the samples reach the lab.

Hormones can influence your mood, immune system, brain function, reproductive system, bone density, and energy levels. Hormones are key players in the body’s performance.

An imbalance can cause a noticeable shift in health.

From problems conceiving to constant low energy, testing your hormones can help provide a full picture of your health.

It’s important to identify your key symptoms when picking a hormone test and following up with your doctor to discuss the results.

When researching at-home hormone tests, we read online reviews to determine the best tests on the market. We also ensured each test is studied in a certified lab.

Best for women’s fertility

Modern Fertility

  • Price: $159
  • Type: Self-collection
  • Coverage: FSA and HSA accepted
  • What’s tested: AMH, TSH, FSH, estradiol, ft4, prolactin, and LH

According to the Office on Women’s Health, 10 percent of women between 15 and 44 have difficulty getting pregnant.

Fertility is a personal subject for many people, and testing in the privacy of your own home may help ease anxiety.

Modern Fertility provides an affordable testing kit that requires simple blood samples collected with a finger prick during the first few days of your menstrual cycle.

The kits are customized for your birth control, meaning your contraception will be factored into your physician-reviewed results.

Modern Fertility offers a free one-on-one call with a fertility nurse. Modern Fertility also offers access into its online community where users can find a sense of camaraderie.

Best for thyroid testing

LetsGetChecked

  • Price: $99–$119
  • Type: Self-collection
  • Coverage: FSA and HSA accepted
  • What’s tested: TSH, ft4, and T3

LetsGetChecked has an average 4.3-star rating, with over 8,000 reviews on TrustPilot. Customers praise LetsGetChecked’s customer service, easy instructions, and fast results.

The company carries a variety of tests for hormones, sexually transmitted infections, and overall wellness. Of the options, LetsGetChecked offers two thyroid tests that target a variety of biomarkers.

The basic Thyroid Test ($99) tests for biomarkers like TSH, ft4, and T3 — three core components to look at when evaluating the function of the thyroid. The biomarkers can help diagnose conditions, like hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.

The Thyroid Antibody Test ($119) goes a step further to test thyroid antibodies that can provide information on damage to the thyroid. The test measures TSH, ft4, T3, thyroglobulin antibodies, and thyroid peroxidase antibodies.

Results are typically received in 2 to 5 days and nurses are available to discuss results and answer questions 24/7.

Best for sleep and stress

EverlyWell

  • Price: $199
  • Type: Self-collection
  • Coverage: FSA and HSA accepted
  • What’s tested: Cortisol, cortisone, melatonin, and creatinine

If you can’t get quality sleep, the answer for your restless nights might just be in an Everlywell box. The popular testing company has a test to measure hormones that impact stress and sleep, which often go hand-in-hand.

When you order your kit, you’ll receive a package that includes a urine cup, urine card, biohazard bag, and return label. After your collection, you can expect to receive results in days.

The Everlywell Sleep and Stress box measures your levels of cortisol, cortisone, melatonin, and creatinine throughout the day. The thorough panel evaluates your levels in the morning, afternoon, evening, and night.

While the test provides Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certified results, the test isn’t a sleep study to detect issues like sleep apnea. If you suspect you might have obstructive sleep apnea, you should consult with your doctor.

Best for metabolism

EverlyWell

  • Price: $49
  • Type: Self-collection
  • Coverage: FSA and HSA accepted
  • What’s tested: TSH, ft4, and cortisol

If you’re low on energy or unable to manage your weight, a slowed metabolism might be the culprit. EverlyWell provides a low-cost hormone test that checks three key hormones linked to stress and thyroid function.

Some common symptoms linked to low metabolism are:

  • thinning hair
  • fatigue
  • increased body fat
  • decreased muscle mass
  • sleep disturbance.

The EverlyWell test includes a finger prick and saliva sample, which is then sent off to a CLIA certified lab for review.

For those looking to collect additional health data, EverlyWell offers a membership for $24.99 per month. The membership includes one test of your choice per month and 20 percent off all additional tests purchased.

Best for men’s health

Imaware

  • Price: $69–$149
  • Type: Self-collection
  • Coverage: FSA and HSA accepted
  • What’s tested: PSA, hs-CRP, total cholesterol, cotinine, creatinine, rerritin, vitamin D, glucose, triglycerides, LDL-C, HDL-C, total testosterone, and HbA1c

Imaware has provided laboratory testing to more than 250,000 patients since its 2017 inception. The testing company provides at-home testing kits for various concerns, like allergies, diabetes, immune health, and heart health.

Imaware also offers comprehensive wellness tests with next steps and recommendations based on your results.

Men can test their total testosterone level, partake in an overall Men’s Health and Wellness panel, and even screen for prostate cancer.

The Testosterone Test ($69) and Men’s Health and Wellness Test ($149) require blood samples collected by finger prick, which are sent to CLIA and College of American Pathologists (CAP) certified labs.

Best for menopause

myLAB Box

  • Price: $99
  • Type: Self-collection
  • Coverage: FSA and HSA accepted
  • What’s tested: FSH, estradiol, and progesterone

Whether you have menopause or you’re approaching it, your hormonal balance is a vital part of your body function.

MyLAB Box offers a Perimenopause Test that measures your hormone balance when approaching menopause. It tests for FSH, estradiol, and progesterone.

When your levels are off, you may experience shifts in your metabolism, sleep, and memory.

Likewise, life after menopause is just as important. The Postmenopause Test measures estradiol and progesterone with blood and saliva samples.

After 2 to 5 days, you can connect with a myLAB Box physician at no charge to discuss results.

They also offer a variety of health tests to support couples looking into family planning. The offerings include female fertility, ovarian reserve, ovulation confirmation, male fertility, and testosterone tests.

Are at-home hormone tests trustworthy?

It’s important to find a company that uses a certified lab. “If results can’t be independently confirmed by multiple labs, there’s a chance you’re being persuaded to purchase a solution to a non-existent problem,” explains Dr. Chris Airey, the medical director at Optimale.

“When looking for an accurate at-home testing kit, make sure there are options to keep and share your results, as well as options for medical professional support. That can help ensure your results are accurate, and being used for something other than a business gimmick,” he adds.

Are at-home hormone tests accurate?

Overall, at-home hormone tests are accurate, but human error must be factored in. When collecting blood or urine samples, failure to follow instructions can result in inaccurate or inconclusive test results.

“To avoid user error, work with a company that provides instructions with impeccable detail and, ideally, physician support,” Airey recommends.

Do at-home tests work better than in-person tests?

While at-home tests are effective, in-office tests can cut out the potential for poor sample collection. Even so, at-home tests may be a more suitable alternative for people with demanding schedules.

Are tests covered by insurance?

Not all hormone tests are covered by insurance, but many are HSA or FSA eligible.

Think of your hormones as tiny messengers sending vital instructions throughout the body. If your hormones can’t deliver their message, your body functions can weaken.

At-home hormone tests can pinpoint which of your hormones might be negatively impacting your body, so your doctor can provide a treatment plan to help regulate your system.

While at-home hormone tests are growing in popularity, they might not be as reliable as a lab-collected test. Regardless, at-home hormone tests are a great starting point to get the health information you need.

Jillian Goltzman is a freelance journalist covering culture, social impact, wellness, and lifestyle. She’s been published in various outlets, including Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Fodor’s Travel Guide. Outside of writing, Jillian is a public speaker who loves discussing the power of social media — something she spends too much time on. She enjoys reading, her houseplants, and cuddling with her corgi. Find her work on her website, blog, Twitter, and Instagram.