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An at-home cortisol test can help people understand and manage their cortisol levels. Learn more about the best at-home cortisol tests from LetsGetChecked, myLAB Box, and more, plus how to test cortisol levels at home.

Medical News Today chooses at-home tests that meet the following criteria:

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

Several home cortisol tests are 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 within 2–5 days online or via a telephone call with a healthcare professional.

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

Learn more about what a cortisol test shows.

The table below compares each cortisol test for sample type, price, and more.

BrandSample typeResultsFollow-up carePrice
LetsGetCheckedblood2–5 daysyes$99
HRT.orgsaliva5–7 business daysnofrom $86
Rx HomeTestsaliva5–7 business daysno$119.99
myLAB Boxblood2–5 daysyes$149

In a clinic or hospital setting, a healthcare professional usually takes a person’s blood sample and analyzes their cortisol levels. They may also provide a saliva test kit for analyzing a person’s cortisol levels.

With home cortisol tests, a person takes a sample of their 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 undergoing testing in a clinic or hospital setting.

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

  • Sample type: Some tests require a blood sample, while others use urine or saliva. A person may wish to buy a product that uses a testing method they are comfortable with.
  • Test analysis: A person should purchase a product from a company that sends tests to CLIA certified labs as part of the testing process.
  • Accuracy: The FDA says at-home tests are cost-effective and quick to use, but it states they should not replace regular contact with a doctor. The FDA also states that all tests can give false results, and a person should follow instructions carefully and check expiration dates for the best chance of getting accurate results.
  • Price: Some cortisol tests can be expensive. A person can talk with a doctor to determine whether at-home cortisol tests will be useful for them before purchasing.

A person should not adjust medication based on at-home test results before speaking with a doctor.

The FDA does not approve every at-home test for use, and it recommends that a person check with a pharmacist or vendor to see if their chosen test is FDA approved. According to the FDA, unapproved tests have not been deemed safe or effective.

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
  • managing blood pressure
  • developing the fetus during pregnancy
  • maintaining salt and water balance in the body
  • managing 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 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.

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
  • nausea
  • vomiting

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 if not treated.

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

Learn how to lower cortisol levels naturally.

Stress can affect a person’s cortisol levels, so people should try to rest and remain calm before a test.

Fasting is not typically necessary for a cortisol test. However, healthcare professionals may ask people to stop taking certain medications, so people need to tell a doctor about all the medications they are taking.

People should never stop taking medication unless a doctor asks them to.

Typically, results will show whether a person’s cortisol levels are high, low, or in a typical range.

Low cortisol levels could indicate Addison’s disease or adrenal insufficiency.

High levels of cortisol may indicate Cushing’s syndrome or a tumor that is increasing cortisol levels.

People must contact a healthcare professional when they receive the results of an at-home test. People should not try to interpret a test’s results without a healthcare professional’s aid.

Doctors can also recommend further testing or discuss treatment options if necessary.

People 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 healthcare 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.

People can buy at-home cortisol tests online. These require a blood, urine, or saliva sample that a person collects at home and 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.

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

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.

People testing their cortisol levels at home will typically have to wait around 2–7 days for their test results, as a lab needs to analyze the samples.

There are no symptoms of high cortisol specific to females documented in scientific literature.

However, one 2020 study did suggest that stress may disrupt the menstrual cycle.

Other symptoms of high cortisol levels include rapid weight gain in the face, chest and abdomen; high blood pressure; mood swings; osteoporosis; bruises and purple stretch marks; mood swings; an increase in thirst and the need to urinate; and muscle weakness. However, these are not unique to females.

Test results should label cortisol in full. It is measured in micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL).

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