In men, symptoms like low energy, lack of sex drive, and even depression can be caused by low testosterone. In fact, similar symptoms can even be caused by high testosterone. If a man is having symptoms like these, then he may consider getting a male hormone test, to see if his hormone levels are the cause of his symptoms.
Visiting your doctor to get testing ordered, and then visiting a lab to have your blood drawn, is an option. However, many men would prefer the convenience of a hormone at home test. How can you choose the best at home male hormone testing kit for you? Should you test only testosterone, or should you test other hormones as well?
What’s tested in an at home male hormone test?
In general, the best way to test hormones is through a blood test. Although saliva tests are also available for some hormones, they generally aren’t considered to be as reliable as blood tests are. When you order an at home male hormone test, you’ll take your blood sample through a fingerprick.
There are a few different male hormone test kits available, which test levels of different specific hormones. One option for a male is to test only testosterone. This will let you know whether your testosterone levels are low or high, and whether it would be safe for you to consider taking extra testosterone. (Never start taking any hormone supplements without getting your levels tested and talking with a doctor first.)
Because testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, many men only think about getting their testosterone tested. However, although a testosterone test on its own does provide some useful information, it doesn’t really give a complete picture of your male hormonal health. It may also be useful to look at your levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which is a carrier protein that carries testosterone in the blood. Your free androgen index (FAI) lets you know the percentage of testosterone that’s unbound to SHBG, and therefore is available to bind to receptors and cause its effects. Doing these tests along with total testosterone will help to give a more complete picture of your male hormonal health.
In addition, while many people think of estrogen as being a female hormone, it’s actually also very important for male bodies as well. The ratio of testosterone to estrogen is important in determining how a man feels on a daily basis. In addition to testosterone, a complete male hormone test should also test estradiol (the most common form of estrogen). Men may also want to test their levels of prolactin. This is a hormone that’s usually associated with breastfeeding, but if the levels are high in a male, then this can suppress the production of testosterone.
Men may also want to check their cortisol levels along with sex hormone levels. Cortisol is a hormone that’s associated with stress. Because high stress levels are common and can affect levels of other hormones, testing cortisol may be a useful way to determine whether stress is causing your symptoms.
How can you interpret the results of a hormone test for men?
After you have a hormone test, it’s important to understand how to interpret the results. If you get any abnormal results, then you’ll need to talk with a health professional to discuss what your next steps should be. Different hormones interact with each other, so the results of all of the different tests need to be considered as a whole.
One option is to visit your regular doctor and talk with them about your test results. However, when you do an at home male hormone test, you’ll usually be given the opportunity to discuss your results with a medical professional via telemedicine. This will allow you to ask any questions that you may have, and to decide what your next steps should be.
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Testosterone – What It Does and Doesn’t Do. Harvard Medical School (2019). https://www.health.harvard.edu/medications/testosterone–what-it-does-and-doesnt-do. Accessed 29 August 2022.
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