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    The Problem with Home Testing for Low Testosterone

    Posted: February 23, 2023

    Since the beginning of the pandemic, a lot of things have permanently moved to a virtual or online status. Many of our jobs have become fully remote, more people order groceries online for delivery – a lot of things have changed. One industry that has exploded is the at home health testing industry. Today, you can order home tests for everything from allergy testing to STD testing. Another increasingly popular product being marketed to men is the home testosterone test. These companies claim to provide testing for low testosterone right in your own home. However, are they really as good as testing in a clinic? A lot of evidence suggests that they’re not, yet many men are getting duped by them every day. In this article, you’ll learn what you need to know about testosterone testing and some of the many downfalls of home tests.

    If you think you might have low testosterone, make an appointment easily online to get your levels checked and discuss treatment solutions with our healthcare providers.

    Why Are Tests Necessary to Diagnose Low Testosterone?

    Man with low testosterone stretching for run after treating low T

    Struggling with low energy, low libido, and other symptoms? Get tested for low testosterone at one of our clinics.

    Before we get into the differences between in office and at home testosterone tests, first let’s talk about why testosterone tests are necessary. As the name suggests, low testosterone is a condition where you have less testosterone circulating in your blood than normal. As a result, you can suffer from a lot of unwanted symptoms. Some common ones include low sex drive, fatigue, erectile dysfunction, and mood changes.

    Diagnosing low testosterone generally requires a test to look at how much of this important hormone is in your blood. Normal levels are between 300 ng/dL and 1,000 ng/dL. If you have less than 300 ng/dL in your blood, then you have low testosterone levels. For diagnosis, typically you need to have consistently low testosterone levels after at least two morning blood tests. This is because testosterone can fluctuate hour to hour and day to day.

    Other Important Elements of Diagnosing Low Testosterone

    However, keep in mind that usually there are many different elements of getting a low T diagnosis beyond the testosterone test. For instance, usually experts recommend a physical exam and discussing things like your symptoms and medical history. This is important to identify underlying causes of your symptoms. This step also can help the provider determine whether you’re a good candidate for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), the go-to treatment for low t.

    Issues of Testing Testosterone at Home

    Now, you may have heard of at home testosterone tests. There are a lot of companies out there advertising their at home tests for hormone deficiencies and other health conditions. However, before you plug in your address and credit card information, you need to know about some of the issues associated with home testosterone tests. Many of these tests are offered by companies that never see you and don’t complete even basic health screenings. There are also concerns about how accurate, expensive, and thorough they are. Also, home testing can make getting treatment with testosterone replacement solutions harder in many cases than simply scheduling an appointment with our providers for testing and treatment.

    Home Low Testosterone Tests May Not Be Accurate

    One of the biggest issues with home testosterone tests is that they aren’t very accurate. In our clinics, we take care of collecting your blood sample, sending it to the lab, and also conducting a health exam. However, online companies can’t offer that level of oversight and service. This often means your results aren’t as accurate as in office tests.

    You Won’t Receive a Physical Exam

    One reason that home tests aren’t enough to formally diagnose you with hypogonadism (low testosterone) is that you don’t receive an exam. These virtual testosterone testing companies don’t have somewhere you can go and visit a healthcare provider. This means that no one can check for other causes of your symptoms or look for conditions or medications that might be lowering your testosterone levels. Also, since there’s no discussion about medical history or your physical health, the online company really has no way of knowing what treatment options might work for you.

    User Error Can Have a Huge Effect on Your Results

    You’ve probably had a blood test in a doctor’s office before, so you might know a little bit about the process. The phlebotomist wears gloves, thoroughly cleans and disinfects the area, and follows certain procedures. There are a few reasons for this. One is to prevent you from getting an infection, but another is to make sure that your sample is clean and doesn’t get contaminated. Contaminated blood or saliva samples can skew results.

    It’s actually incredibly easy to mess up a lab sample even by simply closing a tube incorrectly or accidentally touching part of the testing equipment. The problem is, that’s all really easy to do when you’re at home without a professional to help you.

    Additionally, even something as small as when you take your sample can have a huge impact on results. Testosterone levels fluctuate day to day and even hour to hour, with most healthy men’s testosterone levels peaking in the morning. For accurate results, you have to take a testosterone test in the morning when your levels are highest. If you accidentally collect your sample for a home test at the wrong time, then you might not get an accurate reading.

    Many Home Testosterone Tests Use Saliva Samples Instead of Blood Samples

    Another issue to consider about home testosterone tests is that many actually use saliva instead of blood samples. This might sound better to you because you won’t need to take your blood for the test. However, saliva tests aren’t as accurate as blood tests for testosterone. Remember, testosterone is a hormone that circulates in your blood. While saliva can contain trace amounts of testosterone, these tests don’t typically translate well to blood testosterone levels. Therefore, you might get an incorrect reading.

    At Home Testosterone Tests Can Be Expensive and Not Covered by Insurance

    You might assume that home testosterone tests must be cheaper than getting the test done in a clinic, but you’re actually probably wrong there.  In fact, a quick online search shows that these tests can cost hundreds of dollars, even for less accurate saliva tests. Even though you’re performing the test yourself in your house, you’re still likely paying more than an in-office test. What’s more, most insurance companies don’t cover home tests. So, the expense is all completely out of pocket.

    With in office testing, your insurance will usually cover some or all of the costs. Self-pay for our testosterone tests cost less than a lot of people spend in coffee shops each month.

    Home Low Testosterone Tests May Only Test for Total Testosterone Levels

    Another big flaw with home testosterone testing is that it often only tests total testosterone levels. Total testosterone is the total amount of testosterone in your blood, including free and bound testosterone. However, the problem with this is that it might not give a clear picture of whether low T is causing your symptoms. In many cases, you may have normal total testosterone levels but low free testosterone levels because of the amount of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) in your blood. Testosterone bound to SHBG isn’t available to use by your body, so low free testosterone levels can also be a cause of your symptoms. That’s why we test both for total testosterone and SHBG levels to assess total and free testosterone in your blood.

    Treatment Issues with Home Testosterone Tests

    Even after taking a home testosterone test, there are a lot of issues with getting treatment if you do have low testosterone. Many of these companies do not offer resources to help you get the treatment you need. Perhaps even worse, some of them prescribe things against recommended guidelines, which can put you at risk.

    You May Need to Find a Doctor and Discuss Your Results

    For a lot of home testosterone tests, they recommend finding a doctor and talking to them about the home test results. You’re totally on your own after your results come in. You’ll have to find a doctor, who will probably want to re-test your hormone levels anyway because home tests aren’t very accurate. Therefore, you’ll basically be right back where you started.

    Online Companies May Offer Testosterone Replacement Against Recommended Guidelines

    In some cases, the company that sells you the home test may also offer virtual treatment as well. Some do this in the form of unapproved testosterone boosters, off label prescriptions, or rarely testosterone medications. There are huge problems with this model, though. As we mentioned, there’s usually no health exam to check for other health issues that might be contributing to your symptoms. Also, a lot of companies out there are actually prescribing treatments that go against medical guidelines.

    One group did a “secret shopper” study of a few online testosterone companies and found some shocking results. In the study, the researchers found that 85.7% of the tested companies offered testosterone replacement therapy to men with normal testosterone levels or who desired future fertility, which TRT can interfere with.

    Additionally, very few asked about the desire for future fertility or past cardiovascular events. Yet, both of these issues are factors that usually make you a bad candidate for testosterone replacement therapy. The study also found that most of the companies weren’t discussing the benefits and risks of treatment with their patients at all. So, there are huge issues with getting care from online companies for low testosterone.

    How to Get Low Testosterone Diagnosis and Treatment from Low T Center

    Our team at Low T Center is here to provide you with quality care for low testosterone. We provide thorough health assessments and testosterone testing for diagnosis and treatment. Our team takes care of everything under one roof, including diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing treatment monitoring. Once our providers recommend a customized treatment plan, we offer both in office and at home solutions. We’re here to provide you with convenient care with the monitoring and management you need to stay healthy. Take the first step toward better health. Schedule your appointment with our team today.

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    Disclaimer: This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of Low T Center. You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.