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Cortisol is a hormone with various functions. If the body cannot regulate cortisol levels, this can have serious health effects. A home cortisol test can help show when a person might need medical attention.

Several online retailers offer home cortisol tests. It is essential to follow all test instructions to ensure a valid result.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best for follow-up advice: LetsGetChecked – Cortisol Test

  • Sample type: This test requires a finger prick blood sample.
  • Results time: People receive their test results in 2–5 days.
  • Price: It costs $99.

This cortisol test uses the finger-prick method to draw blood for the sample.

Here are the steps to take and send off a blood sample:

  1. Individuals fill in their details on the collection box and activate their testing kit online at the LetsGetChecked website.
  2. People need to wash their hands with warm soapy water before using an alcohol swab to clean the finger that they will prick.
  3. Once the finger is completely dry, pierce the skin using the lancet in the test kit. It is important to wipe away the first drop of blood before squeezing some into the blood collection tube.
  4. After closing the tube, invert it 5–10 times before placing it in the included biohazard bag and place it in the box.

Having completed these steps, send the sample back to LetsGetChecked using the kit’s prepaid envelope. Test results usually come back within 2–5 days.

LetsGetChecked tests samples in the same labs that primary care providers, hospitals, and government schemes use. These labs have certification from the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) and College of American Pathologists (CAP).

The company also has a team of nurses and doctors available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to offer ongoing support. These healthcare professionals are on hand to discuss a person’s results with them over the phone.

Best for a urine sample test: Everlywell At-Home Cortisol Levels Test Kit – Sleep & Stress Test

  • Sample type: This test requires a urine sample.
  • Results time: People receive their results within days of sending off their samples.
  • Price: It costs $199.

This Everlywell product uses a urine sample to test the levels of three hormones, cortisol, cortisone, and melatonin, over four points during the day. It also tests for another marker, creatinine.

There are three steps with this test. First, a person registers the testing kit on Everlywell’s website, follows the instructions to take the urine sample, places it in the prepaid package, and sends it off to Everlywell’s certified labs.

Individuals will receive their results digitally via the Everlywell website within a few days. Medical professionals can also offer helpful insights via their secure platform.

As well as sending a personalized report of each marker, Everlywell also sends detailed information explaining the results.

CLIA has certified all the labs where Everlywell tests samples. The company also ensures that independent board-certified doctors within the person’s specific state review and approve all results.

Best for a blood sample test: Healthlabs Cortisol, AM & PM Test

  • Sample type: This test requires two blood samples.
  • Results time: People receive their results within 1–3 days.
  • Price: It costs $258.

Healthlabs offers a cortisol test that requires people to test their levels twice — once in the morning and once in the evening.

The company says they do this because a person’s cortisol levels fluctuate throughout the day. Therefore, by testing twice, they can gather information on this fluctuation.

This test requires a blood sample. Individuals must follow the instructions clearly to ensure they take suitable samples.

The manufacturer says that people should collect a morning sample between 7–9 a.m. and an evening sample between 3–5 p.m.

They then need to send off their sample for analysis. After testing is complete at a CLIA-certified lab, a person will receive their results in about 1–3 days.

Best for a saliva sample test: HRT Org Cortisol Saliva Test

  • Sample type: This test requires a saliva sample.
  • Results time: People receive their results in 5–7 business days.
  • Price: It costs $86.

ZRT Laboratories offers a test that involves collecting saliva in the morning. ZRT indicates that the morning is the peak time of hormone production and the best time to test cortisol levels.

The company adds that saliva tests may suit some people because they are noninvasive, and a person can do them in the comfort of their home or in an office or lab.

The company recommends taking the saliva sample on waking up. People who are menstruating should take saliva samples on days 19, 20, or 21 of their cycle if it is regular. If it is irregular, they should take the sample 5 days before their period if they can anticipate the start date.

People should stop taking hormone medications except for birth control and thyroid medication 48 hours before collecting the sample.

Customers then ship their samples off to CLIA-certified ZRT labs. If a customer cannot send their saliva samples within 24 hours, they should freeze them until they can do so.

ZRT Laboratories send the results back to customers within 5-7 business days.

Best for an affordable test: Verisana Diurnal Cortisol Test

  • Sample type: This test requires a saliva sample.
  • Results time: People receive their results in around 3 weeks.
  • Price: It costs $49.95

Verisana Diurnal Cortisol Test uses saliva to measure cortisol throughout the day: once upon waking, after 4 hours of being awake, after 8 hours, and after 10 hours.

The company says that since cortisol levels fluctuate throughout the day, this test keeps track of the changing levels and determines a person’s daily levels.

When taking a sample, a person should collect their first sample between the time they wake up and 11 a.m., the next between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., the next between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., and take the final sample between 7 p.m. and bedtime.

Customers should stop taking hormonal medications except for birth control and thyroid medications 48 hours before collecting the sample. People who have regular menstruation patterns should take samples between days 19 and 21 of their cycle. And people who have more irregular cycles should take the sample 5 days before their expected cycle.

A CLIA-certified lab tests the samples, and a customer will receive their results after about 3 weeks.

Below, find an at-a-glance comparison of the tests in this article.

BrandSample typeResults timeFollow up carePrice
LetsGetCheckedblood2–5 daysyes$99
Everlywellurinewithin daysyes$199
Healthlabsblood1–3 daysno$258
HRT Orgsaliva5–7 business daysno$86
Verisanasalivaaround 3 weeksno$49.95

Overall, a person should choose the test that best fits their needs.

At MNT, we choose at-home tests that meet these criteria:

  • Laboratories: When possible, we select companies that process test samples in CLIA-certified labs. This means that the labs follow state and federal regulations.
  • Budget: We choose at-home tests that suit a wide range of budgets.
  • Privacy: We select companies that have robust, transparent privacy measures, such as data protection and discreet packaging.
  • Test result speed: We choose companies that let customers know when they will receive their test results and whether they will get them by email, app, or phone.
  • Further support: We indicate whether a company offers further support, such as a follow-up phone consultation with a doctor to discuss test results.

At a clinic or hospital setting, a medical professional will usually take a blood sample and analyze it for an individual’s cortisol levels.

Home cortisol tests involve a person taking a sample of blood, urine, or saliva. There are currently no studies investigating the accuracy of these results.

However, home cortisol tests may be faster and more convenient than making an appointment with a doctor to take a sample.

People may consider several factors when deciding to purchase a home cortisol test, including:

  • Sample type: Some tests require a blood sample, while others need urine or saliva. With this in mind, a person may wish to buy a product that uses a testing method they are comfortable providing.
  • Test analysis: A person may wish to purchase a product from a company that sends tests to CLIA-certified labs for analysis. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Center for Medicaid Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regulate these labs to help ensure safety and accuracy.
  • Accuracy: Individuals may wish to speak to a pharmacist or other healthcare professional before purchasing to ensure the test is reliable and accurate.

Cortisol is the stress hormone that affects several systems in the body, including the:

The adrenal glands produce cortisol. Most human body cells have cortisol receptors, and the hormone can help in several ways, including:

  • reducing inflammation
  • regulating metabolism
  • assisting with memory formation
  • controlling blood pressure
  • developing the fetus during pregnancy
  • maintaining salt and water balance in the body
  • controlling blood sugar levels

All these functions make cortisol a vital part of maintaining overall health. If the body can no longer regulate cortisol levels, it can lead to several health disorders, such as Cushing’s syndrome and Addison’s disease. Without treatment, these conditions could cause life-threatening complications.

The body requires certain cortisol levels during times of stress, such as:

  • in the event of an injury
  • during illness
  • during a surgical procedure

Learn more about the body’s organs and systems here.

A cortisol test usually involves a blood test. However, some tests may require saliva and urine samples instead.

There are several home cortisol tests available to purchase over the counter or online. These allow a person to take a blood, urine, or saliva sample before sending it off for analysis.

After taking a home cortisol test, people can sometimes receive their results as early as within 2–5 days online or via a telephone call with a healthcare professional.

However, there are currently no studies investigating the reliability of these home cortisol tests. Therefore, people should follow up on their test results with a healthcare professional.

Learn about what a cortisol test shows here.

A person should take a home cortisol test if they feel they may have a cortisol imbalance.

If cortisol levels are too high, a person may notice the following:

  • rapid weight gain in the face, chest, and abdomen
  • high blood pressure
  • osteoporosis
  • bruises and purple stretch marks
  • mood swings
  • muscle weakness
  • an increase in thirst and need to urinate

If cortisol levels are too low, a person may experience the following symptoms:

  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • unintentional weight loss
  • muscle weakness
  • abdominal pain

Additionally, low cortisol levels may lead to:

A test can help individuals check their cortisol levels. If the test results show these levels are too high or too low, people should seek medical advice.

A cortisol imbalance may be a sign of an underlying condition, which can lead to serious complications without treatment.

If a person cannot carry out a home cortisol test, they should speak to a medical professional who can arrange a cortisol test at a healthcare facility.

Learn how to lower cortisol levels naturally here.

A person should undergo a cortisol test if they believe they may have high or low cortisol levels.

They can do this at home or speak with a medical professional who can carry out the test for them.

People may also wish to seek medical help if they show signs of too much or too little cortisol. This could indicate a potentially serious underlying health issue.

Below are answers to common questions about at-home cortisol tests

Are home cortisol tests accurate?

No studies have investigated the reliability and accuracy of at-home cortisol tests. It is important to follow up on all test results with a healthcare professional.

Can I measure cortisol at home?

People can buy at-home cortisol tests online. These require a blood, urine, or saliva sample that a person collects at home, then sends to the company’s labs.

The company returns the test results to the person after a few days or weeks.

However, no studies have investigated the accuracy of at-home cortisol tests. A person should contact a healthcare professional once they have received their results.

How do I know if my cortisol levels are high?

A person may notice several symptoms of high cortisol levels, such as:

  • rapid weight gain in the face, abdomen, and chest
  • an increase in thirst and the need to urinate
  • easy bruising
  • purple stretch marks
  • mood changes

Contact a healthcare professional as soon as possible for advice if any of these symptoms are present.

Cortisol is an important hormone that affects almost all parts of the body. It has many functions, including reducing inflammation, regulating metabolism, and controlling blood pressure.

If a person believes they have high or low cortisol levels, they may wish to take a cortisol test. Usually, these tests take place at a medical practice. However, several home cortisol tests are available to purchase.

A person can take these tests at home by providing a urine, blood, or saliva sample. Once a lab analyzes the test, people usually receive their results within a few days. Individuals should follow up on any test results with a healthcare professional.