Lifestyle

Why You Should Test Your Hormones

by Saad Alam, Founder of Hone7/16/2021

Saad Editorial Image

Something feels off. It’s an indiscernible feeling, one that you struggle to articulate but, deep down, a gnawing sense of unease mounts.

You don’t feel like yourself. More troubling, you’re not sure where to start to identify and correct the problem. Thankfully, at-home hormone tests are increasingly accurate. And now hormone optimization and testosterone therapy are here. Here’s why that’s important and what that means for your future. For Future You.

Because for Current You, maybe things could be better. Maybe you’ve got imbalanced hormones. That’s leading to a loss of energy, fertility issues, a lack of libido. You’re losing muscle, precious sleep, your patience. Your ability to focus has vanished. You’re so frustrated, at times, the urge to smash the nearest object into the nearest wall is barely contained. You’re waiting for things to snap back to normal, but it’s just getting worse. You’d do anything to feel like yourself again. The emotions arising from all of this are overwhelming.

What’s worse, you can’t really talk about it. The preferable option? Withdrawing from your loved ones, compounding the worsening cycle. Ironically, it’s the juvenile misconception of masculinity that prevents earnest and honest conversations about what men are feeling as we age. That stigma stops now.

It has to so a helpful dialog can begin.

That conversation starts with what’s happening in your body. There are generational shifts, like a 25 percent decline in testosterone,[1] in men across the board. Or a 50 percent decline in sperm in all men.[2]

Testosterone's Generational Decline

Why? Why are more men feeling like you do right now? It’s a complex web of causative issues. Obesity, stress and environmental factors contribute to your overall health, sure. But there’s more afoot than just your body’s chemical makeup morphing.

Some of the scientific community is rallying around the concept of harmful chemical compounds, including PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) leaching from our plastics, the foods we eat and the clothes we wear, even in the deodorants we use. These elements get into our body, where they resemble estrogenic compounds.[3] (In urban areas, because of higher pollution, testosterone rates are even lower.)

With an influx of these estrogenic compounds, the male body starts to wind down natural production of testosterone. That’s something that happens organically, too. Regardless of how, once it happens your body is unable to produce enough testosterone, your T level starts to slip down. At first it’s a point here or there. Before you know it, however, your hormone levels — multiple hormones, not just testosterone — are far from those of your youthful years.

There’s a general range of acceptability for male hormones, testosterone included. Let’s say Current You is in the lower end of that range. That dip in your levels isn’t significant unless you’re feeling any of the symptoms above. If that’s the case, a physician can clinically determine the reason you’re feeling the way you do — your malaise — is due to a lack of testosterone or an imbalance of hormones.

I know this because I went through it.

As an obsessively healthy 35-year-old man (currently 39), I started experiencing these symptoms: a lack of focus, horrible sleep, inability to concentrate. My doctors thought it was a figment of my imagination or that I was depressed. Finding the culprit took six months of specialist meetings, hours and hours of my time. But I finally had concrete proof that I wasn’t crazy: I had the hormone levels of an 80-year-old man. After treatment, my life turned around. Completely. And I learned that nearly 40 percent of men have the same problems, but never are able to remedy them.

So I made it my personal mission to make sure that men have confidence as they age.

I want better for every guy feeling less-than, feeling incomplete. My team and I created Hone to help. With at-home male hormone testing, we can determine how much your hormone levels have dropped. We can tell you precisely what medicine you need to get back to the levels of when you were younger. And with our customized treatment, you will feel like your old self. But it’s actually Future You.

Some men — smart ones — have been optimizing for years. They have demonstrable results, not fabricated evidence that evaporates at the slightest scrutiny. Biomarkers can show how their hormones are restored to more youthful levels; they can tell you how their lives have improved, how they’re less likely to have a heart attack or experience a stroke. [4] You’ve definitely heard of the more vocal advocates of TRT[5] (testosterone replacement therapy), like Joe Rogan. But plenty are out there, doing it quietly.

Need proof? Consider that living longer is more feasible than ever. There is empirical evidence that our lifespans are increasing. Things are happening later — marriages, children, etc. Our beards start greying, but still we index feeling younger. (Those hangovers keep getting worse, but you always say, “Well, one more.”)

Studies show that guys with normal testosterone levels are living longer.[6] What’s incredible is the quality of that life; men with normal T level have fewer chronic conditions, less diabetes, less heart disease.[7] Optimizing hormones has their system singing in harmony. These men report a higher satisfaction in life.

Now, testosterone itself isn’t a miracle. It’s a means to motivation, something Current You lacks. When you’ve got that fire, you move. You work out. You eat healthier. Your energy replenishes. Your sleep is more restorative. Your vitality returns. You can focus. Testosterone and hormone therapy can enable that indomitable spirit you once had.

Which makes it more important than ever to understand what’s happening inside of Current You, to your body. Because it ultimately affects your life. Knowing? Truly knowing? That’s as easy as giving a drop of blood, issued from the comfort of your home. No embarrassing doctor office visits, no averted gaze as you hand over your symptom sheet at the front desk.

Hone is super-simple. You order a male hormone testing kit, which comes to your home within 48 hours. After a 12-hour fast, you register the kit (in less than five minutes), grab the included lancet — a fancy word for “needle” — prick your finger, place a few drops on a special piece of filter paper and mail it back to our lab. (We’ll pay for shipping, both ways.) That’s it. The hard part is done. The finger prick is essentially painless, too.

Our lab of scientists takes over. We analyze the levels of eight hormones and enzymes—testosterone, free testosterone, estradiol, luteinizing hormone, PSA, ALT (alanine transaminase), AST (aspartate transaminase) and SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin) — that have been identified by our medical team as vital biomarkers for good male hormone health. (That medical team is top-notch, comprised of Dr. Giovanni Campanile, a former U.S. presidential medical advisor, Dr. Scott Weiner, one of the brightest endocrinologists in the country.)

Biomarkers Tested by Hone

Why those hormones? We could test for dozens but this select crop represents different points across the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-axis. That monosyllabic mouthful is a network of glands that controls a host of vital functions within your body, all major things involved with your body feeling normal. (Nerd out over the HPA axis’ function here,[8] if you’re interested.) It’s the easiest analog to test your basal homeostasis, or your overall biological balance.

Our initial at-home male hormone testing kit figures out if there is any breakage within the HPA axis and, if so, the location of that lost connection. Our wonderful medical director, Dr. Jim Staheli, D.O., can explain this far better than I can. “For example, take the luteinizing hormone,” Dr. Staheli says. “Physiologically, three areas in your body produce testosterone: the hypothalamus (a gland in your brain), the pituitary (a gland at the base of your brain) and your testes, which actually manufacture most of the testosterone.”

“To create testosterone, the testes have to be stimulated by the glands. The hypothalamus gland recognizes the need for testosterone and pings the pituitary gland to send a production order to the testes. That message comes in the form of luteinizing hormones, or LH. If your LH level is low, there’s a problem with the pituitary; no stimulation is coming from the brain so no message is being transmitted. If your LH level is high, something is wrong with the testes. The brain is overproducing lutein. If your LH level is normal, we know that the testes are performing, but they’re not getting enough stimulation from the brain.”

We analyze your test and you’ll get a text to set up a 30-minute video consultation with a physician. The physician will ask questions to understand Current You and hear your hopes for Future You. The doctor will review your lab results in detail and educate you on what’s happening in your body, and you’ll know where the breakage is.

In some cases, your treatment plan may involve fertility drugs. We can provide a fertility drug called Clomid[9] that helps repair that highway between the brain and the testes. Or Anastrozole, a drug that removes excess estrogenic compounds from your body.[10]

Perhaps you need testosterone itself. If that seems to be the case, because it’s a controlled substance, the physician will order a confirmatory test, which you can either complete at home or at a Labcorp location near you. Once confirmed, your doctor recommends a course of treatment.

The doctor informs you of the benefits and side effects of all personalized treatment options. Additionally, we test for a trio of biomarkers to determine the safety of the treatments, ruling out other potential culprits like a pituitary tumor or prostate cancer.

The cost of the initial at-home assessment, which consists of an at-home male hormone test kit and physician consultation is $45. We offer a $120-per-month subscription, which affords you four more physician consultations throughout the year, access to at-home lab testing four times per year, expedited shipping, access to our customer service team and more.

We handle getting your scripts to the pharmacy and getting your testosterone to you, but any testosterone itself is not covered by the fee, nor your insurance. Depending on the dosage required, you’re likely looking at $50 per month, out of pocket.

A small price to pay to feel like yourself again. So you’ve got Low T? There’s peace of mind in knowing what’s wrong because that edification comes with an immediately actionable plan on how to correct it. We send you a new testing kit every 90 days to see how your meds are working and we adjust doses accordingly. It may take a little time, but you’ll know when you get it right because you feel it. We just confirm it with a future test.

The rest of the world has started normalizing hormones and testosterone therapy as a part of aging. Don’t let that bullet train pass you by. You’ve got a chance to reduce chronic illnesses, to get your life back. Because Future You, he can reap those benefits. Future You can thrive. Playing sports — competitively. Chasing dreams and actually catching them. Future You can crush it. Don’t fear the conversation that could change the rest of your life.


References:

[1] Endocrine Society. "Declining testosterone levels in men not part of normal aging." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 June 2012. .

[2] "You're Not The Man Your Father Was". Forbes, Oct. 2017.

[3] "Study: Most Plastics Leach Hormone-Like Chemicals". NPR, March 2011.

[4] "Study of 83,000 Veterans finds cardiovascular benefits to testosterone replacement." US Department of Veterans Affairs, Aug. 2015.

[5] "Joe Rogan – TRT Makes a Big Difference!" The Joe Rogan Experience #1190, Oct. 2018.

[6] Pericardial Fat Increases Risk for HF, Especially HFpEF. Patient Care, May 2021.

[7] Xiao Zhang, Ke Huang, Farid Saad, Karim Sultan Haider, Ahmad Haider, and Xiaohui Xu.Androgens: Clinical Research and Therapeutics.Jun 2021.64-72. http://doi.org/10.1089/andro.2020.0015

[8] Heaney J. (2013) Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis. In: Gellman M.D., Turner J.R. (eds) Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1005-9_460.

[9] https://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT01904734

[10] https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00104572

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Who are the physicians on Hone?

Hone works with board-certified endocrinologists, urologists, internal medicine and other types of physicians who specialize in helping men address medical issues associated with their hormone levels.

is it safe?

Our physicians create your personalized medical plan using your blood measurements. They will clearly explain the benefits and possible side-effects of your treatment. The Hone care team will check in along the way to make sure everything is going according to plan. You can reach your physician through our secure portal if you have any questions or concerns at any point.

Does it work for everyone?

Hone treatments work for most people but there is no guarantee. Depending on your treatment it may take a few weeks to a few months to see results. Your physician will explain your treatment options as well as what to expect from your medication. We work closely with you to find the right solution, and if we can't we refer you out.

How long does it take to work?

Some will experience results immediately while others may need a couple of months to fine tune their solution. We are all different on the inside, but your Hone physician will create a plan specifically for you.

Is Hone the fountain of youth?

Here's the thing. We can't turn you into your 25 year old self again. Aging is normal and testosterone is not a fountain of youth. But addressing clinically significant hormone deficiencies can go far in giving you more energy and making you feel ready and excited to take on the many years ahead.

Do I need an in-person exam?

Most consultations are completed through an online video consultation with your physician, however if an in-person visit is deemed necessary we will arrange a complimentary concierge visit to your home at your earliest convenience.