These 5 Best At-Home Thyroid Tests To Check Your Endocrine Gland's Function
Your thyroid function is crucial to your overall well-being. The butterfly-shaped gland controls the thyroid hormone, which impacts the function of every single cell in the body. That’s right, everything from digestion and immune health to mood and energy levels are all impacted by the small-but-mighty endocrine gland—and any disruption to it can cause a host of symptoms, such as irritability and weight loss or gain.
Awareness of your thyroid hormone levels can be key to unlocking a deeper understanding of your health, especially when you consider more than 60% of people with thyroid disease are completely unaware of their condition. Luckily at-home testing has made it easier than ever to test your thyroid levels. (Of course, it’s also a blood test you should ask for at your annual visit.)
Often cheaper and more accessible than an office visit, at-home thyroid tests check the same hormone levels as the tests offered by your healthcare practitioner—we’ll get more into that later—and are offered by a variety of brands. But how do you know which companies are reliable? Below, we’ve rounded up the five best at-home thyroid tests offering accurate, valuable results.
The best at-home thyroid tests of 2022, at a glance:
The best at-home thyroid tests of 2022, at a glance:
What does the thyroid do?
The thyroid is located in the front of your throat and produces hormones to support the body's metabolic function, immune system, gut health, reproductive hormones, and more. The thyroid produces two main hormones: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).
These hormones regulate our system metabolism and cellular energy, according to Revée Barbour, N.D., M.S., naturopathic doctor, and owner of Dr. Ray, N.D., in Sacramento, Calif. As a result, your thyroid impacts pretty much every aspect of your body’s function, whether that’s your body temperature or weight. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find something your thyroid didn’t impact.
Why is thyroid health important?
The thyroid is paramount because the thyroid hormone affects all cells and all tissues in the body by maintaining normal metabolism. Humans cannot live without a thyroid hormone. When your thyroid is unhealthy, a few things may occur.
When thyroid hormone levels are low, also called hypothyroidism, all metabolic processes in your body slow down, explains naturopathic physician Andrew Neville, N.D. Many people with hypothyroidism experience fatigue, constipation, weight gain, hair loss, and depression. An underactive thyroid is one of the most common thyroid conditions, affecting 5% of the global population1.
Hyperthyroidism is on the other end of the spectrum. It occurs when the thyroid is hyperactive and produces too many thyroid hormones. This speeds up your metabolism and can cause symptoms like rapid weight loss, irregular heart beats, and sweating.
What are at-home thyroid tests?
Similar to in-office tests, at-home thyroid tests analyze your blood for levels of a myriad of biomarkers. Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is the most common hormone measured by thyroid tests, although it’s not a hormone produced by the thyroid.
Instead TSH is produced by the pituitary gland and triggers the production of T3 and T4. TSH levels typically spike when T3 and T4 levels are low, indicating the body needs to produce more of these hormones (or vice versa). While the most affordable thyroid tests only look at the TSH, this biomarker does not provide a complete picture of your thyroid's function.
Only looking at TSH assumes the body is operating normally and that no other issues are at play, which is a drastic oversimplification of the bodily process. In fact, a 2018 study2 found that screening for thyroid issues using a TSH test can actually miss hypothyroidism. Therefore, a normal TSH level does not ensure the thyroid is operating normally.
The most comprehensive view of your thyroid's function includes direct tests of T3 and T4 levels, as well as thyroid antibodies and Reverse T3 or rT3. As previously mentioned, the first two are hormones directly produced by the thyroid. When testing, you can look at either your total levels of the hormones or the free levels, which are written at FT3 and FT4 or free T3 and T4. These "free" hormones are not bound to thyroxine-binding globulin, and are considered highly sensitive assays that are better to identify disease.
While most of the tests on our list look at FT3 and FT4, only a handful also keep on eye on rT3. When the body converts T4 to T3, it creates rT3 or an inactive form of T3 in specific ratios. Occasionally, the body may be blocked from making T3, instead overproducing rT3. This metabolite acts like a brake on the thyroid's function, slowing down metabolism. As a result, it kickstarts many of the same symptoms as hypothyroidism, including weight gain. Both illness and chronic stress3 have been tied to high rT3 levels—which means it's another important test to consider when making your selection.
How do at-home thyroid tests work?
At-home thyroid tests typically require a very small blood sample from your finger, which you mail back to the company for evaluation. Although some at-home thyroid tests claim to be completely painless, it’s a loose claim. Even the small pinprick needed to get a few drops of blood isn’t entirely painless—but it sure beats the large-bore needles at the lab.
Most tests are evaluated by a remote physician in a CLIA-certified lab, ensuring comparable accuracy to a local lab. With any at-home test, there is room for user error. Submitting too little or too much blood, mislabeling the sample, or compromising the blood sample with germs can interfere with the results. (However, most brands offer free replacements.)
Plus, there are numerous benefits of using an at-home thyroid test, and one of them is that most tests qualify as a “medical expense,” so you can use an HSA or FSA account to pay for it!
Who should use an at-home thyroid test?
Experts in thyroid health like Barbour recommend at-home testing for anyone who has been previously diagnosed with a thyroid condition or suspects that they may have one, due to experiencing common signs of a thyroid issue. She explains that it's a convenient tool for screening for thyroid disorders for those who don't have health insurance or aren’t actively seeking a healthcare provider. It may also be a useful tool for monitoring your response to changes in your thyroid medication, if going to a lab center for a blood draw is not accessible. However, any adjustments in medication should only be done under the supervision of your health provider.
And while at-home thyroid tests are definitely a useful tool for many, it's important to turn to your healthcare provide to best understand your results. So even though some brands offer virtual consultations with a prescribing physician to help find the best treatment or remedies to help with thyroid issues, we still recommend partnering with a thyroid-focused endocrinologist. Remember: At-home testing should never be used as a replacement for care from a healthcare practitioner.
How we picked:
At-home testing is convenient, but also needs to make sense financially. These options offer the most comprehensive testing for the cost.
All of the tests in this list use CLIA-certified labs to process your sample. These are the same labs that your doctor’s office would use. However, there are some differences in who reviews the results.
As complicated as the thyroid is, there are many different tests to give a clear picture of what is going on. All tests use TSH as a biomarker, but we also included brands that give a more comprehensive look with antibodies, FT3, and FT4.
So you found out you have an issue with your thyroid…now what? We looked at how these brands respond to abnormal test results to ensure users won't feel confused about their results.
All five of our choices are not covered by insurance at this time, but they do accept HSA and/or FSA payments. Of course, it’s always a good idea to check with your account carrier for clarification if at-home tests qualify as a medical expense under your specific plan. In addition, the following tests all use a quick finger prick for the sample of blood needed.
Our picks for the best at-home thyroid tests of 2022:
Most options: LetsGetChecked
- Offers 2 different thyroid tests
- Free phone consult with nurse included
- 15,000 positive reviews
- Can't prescribe medications or treatment for issues flagged by results
- Shipping not available to all countries
LetsGetChecked is one of the better-known at-home testing brands, and this isn’t by coincidence. It relies on the same labs to process samples as your doctor’s office, so consumers receive the same accuracy as traditional lab testing without a trip to the doctor's office. When selecting your at-home test, you'll have two options; a test that checks your thyroid hormones TSH, FT4, and FT3, or a more comprehensive option that also includes hormone and antibodies testing for an additional $50.
Both tests require a blood sample, and results are reported to a convenient app on your phone in 2 to 5 days. Any questions raised by your results can be answered in a free consult with a nurse. However, further testing and treatment will need to go through your healthcare provider.
With over 15,000 reviews and a 4.5-star rating, LetsGetChecked is well-liked by users. Plus, the company’s sleek and discreet packaging is easy to read and understand. If you want to know more about LetsGetChecked, you can also see a registered nurse's full review of the at-home testing process.
Community Perk: Save 25% on your at-home thyroid test with the code MBG25.
Best membership: EverlyWell
- Quick turnaround time
- The test includes all thyroid hormones & antibodies
- Physician consult is included
- Most expensive option without subscription
EverlyWell stands out from competitors due to its membership option, which drops the price for an at-home thyroid test to just $25. The comprehensive testing panel looks at TSH, FT4, FT3, and thyroid antibodies to gain the most complete picture of your thyroid health.
The membership option makes Everywell a top pick for those with a thyroid disorder who need to continually monitor thyroid levels to evaluate the efficiency of medication doses, as it makes testing far more affordable. Similar to other options, it requires a blood sample via fingerprick.
Without a subscription, the final cost is higher than other brands, but it also includes a consultation with a board-certified physician in your state who can prescribe medication (if needed).
Most convenient: myLAB Box
- Physician consult included at no charge
- Option for prescription medication as needed
- Some HSA & FSA may not qualify as medical expense
- Unavailable in NY
If you don’t have the patience to wait for your lab kit to arrive by mail, myLAB Box is available with Amazon’s two-day Prime shipping. The comprehensive test also uses a finger prick blood sample to screen your TSH, FT4, FT3, and thyroid antibody levels. Each test takes about five minutes to complete and comes with a pre-addressed return envelope to send back your results. Once back at the lab, it should take less than 5 days to get results.
When results are ready, you can access them in an online portal, along with a consultation with a physician. In select states, these physicians can even prescribe medications. Plus, they’re covered by HSA and FSA, and keep results securely locked down with HIPAA security protocols.
Best for baseline testing: imaware
- Least expensive
- No frills, a good starting point
- Offers TSH testing only
- Longer wait time for results
- No further care offered
Imaware offers a basic, no-frills thyroid test specifically designed for women. The only biomarker measured by the test is TSH, which means this test is not as comprehensive as others on the list. However, it's the most affordable option available, still uses blood samples via fingerprick, and sends tests off to CILA-certified labs.
A great starting point for those curious about thyroid functioning, it gives the initial insights needed to begin your journey into understanding your thyroid health. Just note the brand does not offer any follow-up for test results, meaning you’ll have to discuss with your healthcare provider for more information. However, it is FSA- and HSA-approved with results available in about a week.
Best for specialized care: Paloma
- Thyroid-specific brand
- Switch physician at no charge
- Cheapest option for comprehensive tests
- Most comprehensive pick with Reverse T3 testing
- Only focus on treating low thyroid (hypothyroidism)
- Not available in NY, NJ, MD, RI currently
- Longer wait time for results
Paloma only focuses on thyroid-related issues and prides itself on being not just an at-home thyroid testing brand, but a comprehensive thyroid health company. Not only are tests focused directly on the thyroid, but all the physicians involved are endocrinologists specializing in hormone health.
Every blood sample collected is tested for FT3, FT4, TSH, and thyroid antibodies. For an additional fee, you can add on Reverse T3 testing, making this the most comprehensive option on the market.
One of Paloma’s best features is that it offers a free phone consultation with a care manager even before you make a purchase. Although the physician consults are not included in the price, they can be billed to your insurance or paid out of pocket for $42. Due to state regulation, the test cannot be used currently in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, or Rhode Island.
Additionally, Paloma focuses on hypothyroid, which is low-thyroid hormone only. If your results reveal you have hyperthyroidism (high thyroid), then you will need to discuss further with your healthcare provider.
When is the best time of day to test your thyroid?
The best time of day to test the thyroid is in the morning before noon, according to Barbour. He adds, “If you are already taking thyroid medication, it's recommended you delay dosing your medicine in the morning until you complete your specimen collection, then take your medicine right after. Thus, it's best to complete testing as early as possible after waking up.”
Are at-home thyroid tests accurate?
Yes, at-home tests use the same CLIA-certified labs, just like healthcare providers. In order to comply with state regulations, they also require a physician to order and review the results, although that does not guarantee you’ll get any direction from a healthcare provider on your results.
What are early warning signs of thyroid problems?
Thyroid issues can manifest in a variety of ways. Some common signs and symptoms include fatigue, weight gain/loss, depression, and even impaired memory.
Can I check my thyroid levels at home?
Yes, using an at-home thyroid test is a great way to get insight into your thyroid health. However, it is only a test. It’s still important to discuss your family history, symptoms, and risk for thyroid health with a healthcare provider.
Are at-home thyroid tests covered by insurance?
Typically, at-home tests are not covered by insurance. However, they qualify as a “medical test” for most HSA and FSA users. We recommend checking with your carrier to determine if you can use a health account to pay for the tests before you make a purchase.
Taking charge of your health has never been easier. Having the option of testing your thyroid from the comfort of your home is a key component, especially for those who don't have health insurance, haven’t established a primary care provider, prefer the comfort of their own home around needles, or simply can’t make time for an appointment at the doctor’s office. After all, thyroid tests are one of the essential tests recommended for everyone—and ordering one from home is just a click away. Just be sure to follow up with your healthcare practitioner for any abnormal results.