Updated on 19 October, 2021
In the last three decades, lab tests performed at home have become increasingly common. Over the last couple of decades, many more tests have been developed and utilized by medical professionals which previously only were available in medical laboratories: immunology tests helped to refine diagnosis; whole genome sequencing research and a molecular biology-based test promoted the design of a preventative regimen with first aid provider. Currently, there are hundreds of such tests available. While there has been some concern over the quality of some of these tests, the overwhelming majority appear to meet the criteria for acceptable clinical practice. The primary consideration when choosing a lab test at home is whether or not it can be used in the context of the specific medical situation where it is performed.
For example, one of the more popular at-home testing options involves the measurement of progesterone and estrogen levels as part of a screening for breast cancer. While this test has shown positive results in the clinical setting, in the laboratory it has shown a false negative result (testosterone) due to the fact that the cells grown in the test culture media do not normally display the estrogen receptor alpha, or the receptor itself. When performing at home, the doctor can look for the corresponding biochemical markers to confirm the positive result and then make the proper treatment recommendation. Similarly, testosterone level measurement can also be done at home using a saliva collection method, but because this has not been demonstrated to be an accurate test for testosterone levels it should be performed in the hands of a trained endocrinologist, not a nurse or other untrained person working at home. Similarly, a blood test that measures thyroid hormone levels has not been shown to have much reliability outside of specialized laboratories, so it should also be performed in the hands of a medical professional.
Of course, the most common reason for at-home lab testing is to track a patient's nutritional status. This is especially true for patients with chronic diseases that often require periodic measurements of their thyroid and hormone levels. In these cases, ordering online lab testing kits can make a big difference in the accuracy of these measurements. Fortunately, all of the major brands offer some form of integrated database that allows patients to track their own lab tests online. This means that those who suffer from chronic conditions can obtain their own lab tests ordered online in order to provide a more accurate self-assessment of their health at-home.
Other common uses for at-home STD testing are to screen individuals during preventative gynecologic visits. Often, females undergo routine annual Pap smears to monitor their cervical cancer, but sometimes abnormal findings pop up during routine checkups. Likewise, men can be screened for prostate cancer and other reproductive health issues using a digital rectal exam. When both men and women can receive routine laboratory tests ordered online by their doctors, the benefits of improved healthcare coverage and better patient care in general become apparent.
Of course, at-home testing can also have benefits for patients with pre-existing conditions. While most tests for such conditions can be done only after a referral to a specialist, it can be much simpler to order an at-home test to find out if a particular health issue is a problem in itself or if additional treatment is needed. For example, a woman experiencing a symptom of polyps could order a digital rectal exam to determine if this is indeed the cause of her symptoms. Likewise, a man could request a prostate exam in order to determine if there are signs of enlarged prostates. Online STD testing has made it far easier for patients suffering from one ailment or another to obtain the information they need to make informed decisions about their health.
Of course, at home testing doesn't just apply to screening patients for sexually transmitted diseases. Many tests for overall health and wellness can be ordered online as well. From blood pressure measurements to cholesterol readings, regular blood test results can allow a doctor to detect patterns or abnormalities that might indicate a myriad of different medical conditions or diseases. For example, a routine hair sample might reveal an unhealthy level of DHT, the primary cause of male pattern baldness. By ordering a hair analysis or a skin biopsy, a doctor can identify the exact source of the hair loss and either provide treatment options or begin evaluating other options to restore hair growth.
Of course, no health issue is static. As people get older, they naturally produce fewer of the vitamins and nutrients their bodies need. Since lab tests can indicate if a deficiency is present, doctors can prescribe various vitamins and nutrients in order to make up for any vitamin deficiencies. In fact, deficiencies in even the most seemingly minor areas can result in duller skin, slower healing or even the development of serious health problems, so proper nutrition is always important.
Whether a patient suffers from an acute symptom or simply wants to know more about his or her overall health, he or she can opt to undergo lab testing at home. The convenience and relative affordability of these types of tests make them ideal choices for people who don't want to spend the money it takes to visit a specialized doctor or a hospital. These tests are also often offered at free of charge by some lab testing centers, so patients should not hesitate to contact one in order to learn more about their own health. In many cases, doctors will recommend that patients undergo further diagnostic center testing to confirm their findings before taking further steps to address potential issues.