I Tried 5 At-Home Hormone Testing Kits & Here’s What I Learnt

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, says Katie Jones.

by Katie Baskerville

As anyone who lives with (or knows someone with) polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is aware, getting a fuller, more cohesive understanding of hormone health is not easy. Everything is in constant flux and getting answers is near impossible. Now that I’m 30 years old and hoping to start a family, I decided this was the time to tackle what had been an insurmountable task. But how to go about it? And where to begin? I won’t lie, a marketing email about at-home hormone testing grabbed me straight away. A couple of quick calls later, I was ready to test five different kits.

At-home hormone testing promises to put more control in your hands. The service is private, but not wholly unaffordable, but it definitely isn’t cheap. While the results can be helpful in cases where you may be chasing a diagnosis, or for checking in on your hormone health, but be warned that it isn’t all served up on a silver platter. There were times when I was pushed to tears out of sheer frustration. So, here’s some gentle housekeeping.

The first thing you need to know about at-home hormone testing is that they all vary a huge amount: what you sample, how you do it, and when you take it. The way they deliver results are very different too. It is also crucial to remember that these tests are only ever snapshots into your health. They cannot diagnose, they cannot give you too many answers – and they don’t pretend to either. They don’t guarantee access to secondary care (that has to come from your GP, or by going private). But most do explain the results thoroughly and each one encourages you to discuss your hormonal health with your doctor.

Finally, you need to know your menstrual cycle intimately. Some tests require a sample from very specific days of your cycle, which can be tricky to figure out if you haven’t tracked it consistently before or you miss your window. Though not exhaustive, here is a quick breakdown of the five at-home hormone tests I did and what I learnt from each.

Let’s Get Checked

TL;DR: A good one-stop-shop for ongoing fertility testing and complete health profiles.

Pros: The test is easy to complete and the process is thorough. The instructions are easy to follow and results arrive quickly. I would describe it as very hassle-free. The dashboard is really easy to navigate and has the potential to hold a lot of other general health data, as well as hormone health data. And it syncs with devices like Apple Health and Garmin, too. Follow ups are made instantaneously with a nurse who can explain the results, which are downloadable (great for discussing any abnormalities with your GP).

Cons: Lancets can be a little painful, but in all honesty, this test was pretty great all round.

Cost: £119


TL;DR: A more affordable snapshot of hormone health.

Pros: Everything about Thriva should have made me love them more than I did. The test arrived on time, the questionnaire was thorough, and including questions on diet and “goal” setting. Results are followed up with detailed explanations from a nurse practitioner, who talks through the results and answers any questions as best they can (without providing a diagnosis).

The test came with the usual lancets, alcohol swabs, and containers, along with prepaid return packaging. And, it took a cool 3-5 days to arrive. They text you when the test has been received and when it’s ready to view, too.

Cons: I found the interface a little clunky and the test instructions were on the vague side. Unlike other tests, there was no recommended date for testing; just prick and go. There was also a “health score” available to me before inputting any detailed information, or yielding any test results, which frankly, felt counterproductive.

Cost: £92


TL;DR: My favourite of the at-home tests, providing ongoing hormone mapping.

Pros: Unlike other tests, the questionnaire is conducted before the test is even sent, so it feels like you’re receiving a specific test to meet the needs of your hormone health profile. (There are options for one-to-one clinics at additional costs, starting from £100.)

It came promptly, with all the usual pieces (lancets, swabs, plasters etc) and demonstrate how to take blood correctly, full checklists and much more. The test itself is conducted on day three of your cycle, which was clearly explained in the accompanying instructions.

The interface is really quite special, too. Very easy to navigate and understand, with thorough, full explanations of what is happening from a leading fertility specialist, followed up by a compassionate and informative conversation with a registered nurse where you can discuss any of the results, or questions you may have.

Cons: I genuinely couldn’t find fault with Hertility. Everything from start to finish was streamlined and easy. The only snag is that after doing a few lancets, you get a little tired of bruised fingers. But they’re working on a less invasive sample style, so watch this space.

Cost: £149


TL;DR: Ovulation and fertility hormone tracking for the blood adverse.

Pros: Mira was a delight through and through. Their tracking is excellently clear and is supported by an informative blog, on both the website and their app. Unlike the other hormone tests I tried, Mira is much easier (and far less painful) to repeat, because the sample required is urine, instead of blood. (No lancets!) I also like that it isn't reliant on being at a particular point in my cycle and instead measures more holistically.

The pee-sticks are easy and comparatively affordable to replace, too. Mira is especially good if you, like me, are unsure of ovulation times – or if ovulation is happening at all. It was encouraging to see surges of LH (Luteinising Hormone), as well as notifications that prompt you to keep testing and pinpoint when ovulation might happen, making timed intercourse easier to navigate.

Cons: The only thing I found slightly tricky to work around was the raw data. It can be a little daunting to see your hormone levels shoot up and down without a rhyme or reason – especially if you’re concerned about pre-existing endocrine conditions. I would recommend always talking through ongoing results with a doctor, as Mira also suggests, especially if you have health anxiety. Your GP will help you make sense of what you’re seeing and step in if anything’s amiss.

Cost: £179


TL;DR: Ongoing fertility testing and full health profiles - with lots of upselling.

Pros: The service is fast and fairly streamlined, though not perfect. But the interface is easy to use and results are clearly laid out.

Cons: Like Thriva, Omnos comes with a pre-determined health score. However, this score had a much more understandable rationale and comes from a whole host of questionnaires. These were split into themes; Genetics, Wellness, Nutrition, Health, Stress, Exercise & Lifestyle. Though, I’m unsure how they relate to my fertility health test, as these were done post-test, not before.

As with most of the others, it came with the necessary tools, but did arrive incomplete. Then the pre-paid envelope wouldn’t scan at the post office – so I had to pay for the postage, which wasn’t ideal. There was no clear instruction as to when to take the sample. The results came fast – three days later – which was encouraging and I was immediately set up with a call to discuss my results. While this was informative, the experience did feel a little sales-y, which put me off. Getting the information is one thing, but being told you need to take 3-4 more of their tests to get a fuller picture is another, no matter how true that may be.

Cost: £149

What I Learnt

For me, each test has yielded a different result. On that basis alone, it’s clear that at-home hormone testing kits are not the silver bullet. The question is: would I recommend doing an at-home test?

Well, yes. The power of having raw health data cannot be discredited, because if you are not like me, and do not have a diagnosis, imagine what these results could mean for you. It could be a very real lifeline to get towards secondary, or even tertiary care, which is vital for conditions like PCOS to be managed properly.

Diagnosis is the first step to symptom management. And with it taking upwards of two years, perhaps even longer now with post-lockdown waiting times, for a positive PCOS diagnosis. It could be a huge step forward to accessing care that you not only deserve, but are entitled to.

In this instance, Mira and Hertility have been especially helpful. With the combined data they provided I was able to access further testing and appointments that, prior to taking them, my GP had been reluctant to explore. It’s been enlightening, to say the least.

But - I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that in some instances, I wouldn’t recommend them. After a couple of months pricking my fingers and pissing into pots, it might sound like someone’s having a bit of a laugh at my expense. And, I mean that quite literally. I was fortunate to try these for free. Sadly these private tests, which to be used to their “full potential” require repeat testing, are expensive. And, with some clocking in at almost £200, it could be seen as slightly exploitative. Especially when interfaces opt for health scores and costly solutions within the same stroke.

For me, taking these tests has meant I can plan for pregnancy a little better and with more understanding of what my hormones mean, what they do, and how they affect my PCOS. However, I have learnt that they can only make up one piece of the puzzle – alongside GP appointments, cycle tracking, and routine gyno check ups, when it comes to taking full control of my fertility and hormonal health.

My advice? Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Proceed with cautious optimism and – for the love of God – don’t Google ANYTHING.