A decreasing level of testosterone is an unfortunate but natural occurrence in men as they get older. The Mayo Clinic reports that around one-third of all men aged 75 or older report lower than average testosterone levels.
However, men of any age can experience lower than normal levels of testosterone. Many underlying health conditions could contribute to low testosterone. Issues such as pituitary gland issues, obesity, or even injuries can lower testosterone levels. Standard cancer treatments are also known to cause low testosterone issues as well.
So how can you be sure that your body is producing low levels of testosterone? Many men (and women) turn to a DIY, at-home testosterone test to determine if they are experiencing low levels. Before you try any of these at-home options, it is crucial to understand how they work and what information these kits will provide.
Home Testing Kits
Many products are available for testing your hormone levels in the comfort of your own home. Many of these kits can be purchased at a pharmacy or online, without a prescription.
These at-home tests will use your saliva for testing, instead of a typical blood sample. The method of collecting your saliva and how many individual samples are required will depend on which kit your purchase. One this is certain: all testing kits will require you to send your specimen to a lab for processing, so results can take days or even weeks to receive.
Saliva Testing Accuracy and Reliability
Before entirely relying on the results that are produced from an at-home testing kit, it is critical to be aware of the reliability of testing a saliva sample, versus testing blood. As you are probably aware, collecting a saliva sample is far less invasive than collecting a blood sample. Since it is easier to obtain, many researchers are very interested in the reliability of this method.
According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, a blood sample is still the preferred method for measuring any sex hormone, such as testosterone. This study cites the variability of saliva testing as the main reason for preferring a blood test.
However, some studies conclude that saliva collection is the best method since it is less stressful for the patient being tested. In fact, a recent study claims that saliva is just as reliable as any other body fluid and sometimes preferred. It is important to note that testosterone samples in saliva can be changed depending on how they are stored.
How to Handle the Results
If you are using a home kit to measure your testosterone levels, you need to be prepared to take the next steps when you receive your results. Your lab tests should also come with a detailed explanation of each testosterone level detected. If the results are returned as “normal,” but your symptoms persist, you should contact your doctor.
If your results show a low level of testosterone, you should make an appointment to meet with your general practitioner before you attempt any home remedies. Over-the-counter testosterone supplements can come with such side effects as prostate growth, sleep apnea, or increase risk of heart disease.
Lastly, low testosterone can be a sign of a severe underlying condition. It is best to consult with your doctor to decide on the best treatment options.