First Thing’s First
If you’re experiencing any symptoms that might be caused by low T, the first thing you’ll want to do is have your testosterone level checked.
The normal level is over 300 nanograms per decilitre (ng/dL), although in some cases the doctor may recommend TRT even if your number is a bit higher.
This is because in addition to your testosterone level, other factors are taken into consideration, such as your protein levels and the condition of your thyroid.
In other words, your doctor will consider your entire medical history, not just the testosterone number, to determine whether or not you need testosterone replacement therapy.
Even if you don’t think you have low T, it’s best to schedule a visit to your doctor’s office if you’re experiencing symptoms such as:
- Lack of interest in sex
- Less body hair
- Less energy
- Moodiness or depression
- Poor concentration (brain fog)
- Unexplained weight gain
While some men may attribute these things to getting older, in many cases it is much more serious than that.
This is why seeing your doctor is so important because he or she will be able to take everything into consideration to determine how serious the problem is in your particular case.
Another note regarding low T and the therapies most recommended by doctors: you may hear low T called by other names, but do not be alarmed because they are all the same thing.
Low T can also be called testosterone deficiency syndrome, male menopause (or menopause), andropause, and hypogonadism.
If your doctor mentions any of these terms during your diagnosis and treatment, don’t be alarmed because all of these terms refer to the same condition.
How to Test for Low Testosterone
Essentially, there are two main ways you can have your testosterone levels checked.
These include having it done at the doctor’s office, and ordering an at-home test so that you can do it yourself.
While some people aren’t convinced that these at-home test kits are reliable, the fact is that they are very reliable.
Of course, you’ll still need to see a doctor afterward because the tests can’t tell you why your testosterone level is low, but they’re still a great starting point.
At-home kits that check for low T include two types:
- Blood test. These kits come with lancets and either a vial or an absorbent sheet of paper. You will simply prick yourself with the lancet and place the speck of blood in the vial or onto the paper.
- Saliva test. These kits come with either a cotton swab or a small vial that you place your saliva in.
With both tests, you will send your blood or saliva sample back to a lab, where they will test it to see what your testosterone number is.
You will not be able to tell immediately in your home what your number is, only the lab can do that.
This being said, you will be notified (usually via email or snail mail) your testosterone number so that you can decide what to do next, which usually involves scheduling an appointment with your doctor.
Our blood tests cost £79.99 and £49.99 respectively.
If you’re wondering which type of test is more accurate, most people would say the tests that check your blood are more accurate than saliva tests.
Why? Because with the saliva tests, different things can render the number unreliable.
For instance, if you smoke a cigarette or consume food or drink shortly before taking the saliva test, the number might be inaccurate.
With both saliva and blood tests, however, it is still recommended that you take the test early in the morning and before noon.
This is because as a general rule, testosterone levels are higher in the morning than they are at any other time of the day.
If you follow the instructions that come with the test carefully and test in the morning, your test results should be accurate.
Here are a few other tips to keep in mind if you do choose a saliva test over a blood test:
- It’s best to refrain from brushing your teeth for at least an hour before taking the test. This is because brushing of the teeth sometimes results in tiny specks of blood from the toothbrush rubbing up against the gums. Since blood has high levels of testosterone anyway, it’s best to wait for some time after you’ve brushed your teeth before taking the test. (Blood tests for low T take this into account so that you get an accurate result.)
- For women, saliva tests for testosterone levels aren’t always as accurate as they are for men. Women trying to test their testosterone number are usually recommended to take the blood test or see a doctor and get a test administered that way.
Types of Testosterone: Does it Make a Difference?
Regardless of which type of test you choose, it’s good to know a little about the different types of testosterone and how these types may affect the at-home test you take. First of all, testosterone comes in two different forms. These are:
- Bound T, which is unusable by the body.
- Bio-available T, which is called this because it is “available” to be absorbed into the tissues and used for the many things testosterone is used for in the body.
When you have your testosterone levels checked with one of these at-home kits, they will usually give you a number that is the result of both of these testosterone types together.
This is why you should always follow up this type of test with a trip to the doctor’s office.
Even if the results you get end up being completely accurate, you’ll still need to work with your doctor to understand why your levels are low and what you can do about it.
Fortunately, these at-home tests, when conducted according to the directions enclosed, will usually recommend what to do should your number indicate that you might have low T.
In addition to email and snail mail, many of the companies that make these tests will allow you to log into their website, enter your test number, and find out the results online instantly.
This is the fastest way to receive your results, and once you have the results and have an idea of what your testosterone number is, you can give your doctor a call.
Why Are At-Home Blood Tests for Testosterone So Great?
An at-home blood test to test for low T are great for a lot of reasons, including:
- It is easy to do and can be done in the privacy of your own home.
- It is very private and discreet.
- Most companies have the test results available in a few days.
- You don’t have to visit your doctor’s office to take the test.
Men love these tests because they give them some idea of where their testosterone levels are, and the sooner you find out what your number is, the sooner you and your doctor can decide what to do about it.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to be middle-aged or old to have concerns about low T. In fact, low T can be experienced by any man – or woman – even if they are just 30 years old.
The symptoms in women can be a little different and are usually more subtle than the symptoms for men, and they can include weight gain, irregular periods, or even excessive body hair, especially on the face and chin area.
If you are even slightly concerned about the symptoms you’re having, it’s good to know for certain what your testosterone level is, and the fastest way to know that is to have your hormone levels tested, whether at home or in a doctor’s office.
The at-home tests are not complicated in the least; on the contrary, they are very simple and fast.
A little blood or saliva and off it goes to the lab, and you’ll usually get your results in a matter of days, not weeks.
What could be easier than that? If you’re even considering an at-home blood test to determine what your testosterone levels are, below are some things to consider.
There are other reasons for at-home testosterone tests as well; for example, if you are in the middle of TRT to get your testosterone levels back up, you can check to see how well those treatments are going and if they’re working as they should.
It’s a great way to see for yourself if your hormone levels are going up, and how much they are going up.
It’s also a simple way to continuously monitor your testosterone levels so that you can make sure they don’t get too high, which can sometimes happen with testosterone replacement therapy.
Insurance and Testosterone Tests
If you’re curious about whether or not insurance companies will pay for an at-home hormone test, the answer is no, they usually do not.
Insurance companies typically pay for in-office testing only, which doesn’t include an at-home test.
If there are situations that prevent you from getting this test done in the doctor’s office, the insurance company may very well pay for the tests anyway.
Some examples include if you are homebound or you live far away from one of the facilities that does this type of testing.
If you have any questions about payments for your at-home testosterone testing kit, you can easily check with the insurance company to get your answer. Still, at £79.99 and £49.99 respectively per kit, the cost isn’t extraordinary and is therefore affordable for most men and women.
How Do You Choose an At-Home Testosterone Kit?
When choosing the best company for your at-home hormone testing kit, consider the following factors:
- Company reputation
- Laboratory review policies
- Results sampling
- Quality of the kit
- Turnaround time
- Website navigability
All of this information should be found either on the packaging or in the literature the company sends you or somewhere online.
Company reputation is easy to find because you can find real-life customer reviews in many different places on the Internet.
Make sure you find out how long the company has been in business, what real customers have to say about both the company and the results they received, and exactly what the lab results consist of, and check out the lab as well.
Granted, you may not be able to find all of this information, but you should be able to find most of it with a little due diligence on your part.
Low Testosterone and U.K. Men
In the U.K., it’s estimated that roughly 20% of the men over 50 suffer with some type of low T.
This consists of roughly two million men. Unfortunately, it is also estimated that only 1% of them have been diagnosed and are currently receiving treatment.
Fortunately, TRT has been used in the U.K. and numerous other countries for over 50 years, which means it is reliable and has produced the results men are looking for when they have low T.
In the U.K., most doctors and TRT clinics use gels or injections for this type of treatment. Gel is the least invasive method of delivering testosterone to the patient and is easy and painless.
Nevertheless, many men choose injections because they only have to come in and receive the treatments about once every 6 to 10 weeks.
The injections last much longer than the gel, but the gel is just easier for men who hate needles and want something that doesn’t involve a shot.
Another treatment common in the U.K. is a testosterone boosting product, which is normally in pill form.
Different products produce different results, and if this is something you’d prefer to choose over gel and injection treatments, you should talk to your doctor about it. If you live in the U.K. and are concerned about low T, you have three basic options when it comes to your treatment. They are:
- NHS via your GP
- Privately via a clinic
- Self-prescribed TRT online, although this is not recommended
When it comes to low T, you’re naturally going to have a lot of questions about symptoms, side effects, risks, and much more.
While many at-home kits answer some of those questions, you can ask your doctor even more questions once you get to the clinic.
Remember, the at-home testing and the trip to your doctor’s office work together to provide you with answers to your question and with the solutions you wanted in the first place.
FAQs About At-Home Blood Tests for Testosterone Levels and Low T
As previously mentioned, blood tests are more accurate and efficient when you’re trying to get your testosterone levels checked.
If you’re going to go this route, you’ll naturally have a few questions for the experts, so below we will try to anticipate those questions so at least some of them can be answered.
Q: I took an at-home blood test and found out my testosterone levels are low. Can I now go online and get my own medication so I can skip the doctor visits?
A: This is definitely not recommended, for a variety of reasons. First of all, even though these tests will tell you what your hormone level is, they don’t tell you why the levels are low.
Second, TRT must be done in an environment where the doctor can monitor you to see if your hormone levels are going up.
Finally, although rare, these tests are sometimes inaccurate, and only a physician will be able to help you determine the diagnosis and work on a personalized treatment plan just for you.
Q: Do I have to take TRT just because my testosterone number is low?
A: Not necessarily. In some cases where your testosterone level is borderline, your doctor may prescribe other treatments or even have you come back later and retest so that the two numbers can be compared.
After the numbers are compared, your doctor will decide which, if any, treatment method is right for you.
Q: Does TRT cause cancer?
A: Numerous studies have been conducted regarding TRT and certain cancers, especially prostate cancer.
Fortunately, the results have been very positive and have proven that there is no link between TRT and any type of cancer.
This being said, if you already have or had prostate cancer or any condition with the prostate, taking testosterone may not be wise.
For this reason, it’s recommended that you discuss these situations with your doctor before starting any type of TRT.
Q: How accurate are the at-home blood tests for testosterone?
A: At-home blood tests for testosterone levels are extremely accurate IF you follow their instructions to a tee.
Even if one of their requirements sounds unnecessary or even odd, such as testing first thing in the morning, these rules were put there for a reason.
Make sure you do everything the instructions tell you to do, and check with the manufacturer or your private doctor if you have any concerns.
Q: Why is a blood test better than a saliva test?
A: Both are good, but a blood test is better because it’s more comprehensive, meaning it can tell your doctor more than just your testosterone level, including your PSA and even sometimes your cholesterol.
In addition, there aren’t as many do’s and don’ts with a blood test as there are with one that requires saliva, which means you’re much less likely to get an inaccurate result.
Q: I already know my testosterone levels are low because of the test. Why do I have to go see a doctor?
A: For many reasons. As mentioned earlier, these at-home tests do not tell you the reasons your testosterone is low.
They just tell you that it is indeed low. Second, your testosterone number is only one factor in your overall health, and only your doctor can combine your testosterone number with the rest of your numbers so that a treatment plan can be developed to make you feel better.
Finally, the test is only a starting point.
You will likely need TRT to increase your hormone levels and be monitored regularly to make sure everything is going as planned, and that can only be done in a doctor’s office with your doctor’s help.
At-home testosterone tests can test your levels in the privacy of your own home, and while both saliva and blood tests are accurate, blood tests tend to be a little more accurate.
They are also super fast and simple to do because all they require is a quick stab with a lancet and you’re all done. In the U.K., with roughly 20% of all men suffering with low T, some of whom aren’t even aware of it, it is more important than ever to let them know about these at-home kits so that a proper diagnosis can occur sooner rather than later.
When you find yourself suffering with low T symptoms, you naturally want to take care of the situation right away.
The first step is always to test your testosterone levels to discover what your number is because without this number, you can’t talk to your doctor about the right treatment options.
When you test at home, it brings you one step closer to those treatment options and therefore, one step closer to feeling better and getting healthier with the right TRT.