Six Lab Tests You Need (& How to Order Without a Doctor)
This article shares information and tips about six lab tests you need and how to order online and take them at home without a doctor.
Note: this post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations related to your individual situation.
Let’s Take Control Over Our Health
You probably know by now that I’m a huge proponent of taking control of our own health care by being our own best advocates and managers of our bodies and treatments. Some of the ways we can do this include getting educated about our symptoms and current issues, learning what holistic and conventional options are available, and finding healthcare providers who act as equal partners.
Online Lab Testing
One important healthcare innovation that can help is in the form of lab tests you can order online and take at home, without the need for a doctor’s order. You now have the opportunity to order your own lab tests, take them in the comfort of your own home, and have the results phoned into you a few days later. How amazing is that?!
I know how important this innovation is because I tried it myself. I’ll be sharing exactly what I learned from taking lab tests at home in an upcoming blog post.
The company that I use and recommend for home testing is called LetsGetChecked. This post was sponsored by LetsGetChecked; all opinions are my own.
Why You Want to Order Your Own Lab Tests
There are several reasons why you might want to order your own lab tests that you can take at home.
1. First, not all of us have insurance or have plans that cover lab tests without paying a deductible. The lab tests from LetsGetChecked are affordable and it’s easy to pick just the tests that you need.
2. Second, not all of us have time to go to the doctor, get the lab order, go to the lab, and then go back to the doctor to get the results. With online lab testing, you order online, get the test at home, perform the test at home (some online companies might require you to go to an approved lab), and then get the results by phone or online. With LetsGetChecked, you can order the tests online or pick them up at your local CVS drugstore.
3. Another reason for ordering your own lab tests without the need for a doctor’s order is simply because not all doctors will order the tests that we deserve and need to monitor our health. For example, I went to an endocrinologist for years who only tested my TSH levels, even though I had been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Not once did this doctor test my thyroid antibodies which could have given me an indication to which the level my body was attacking my own thyroid tissue. Now, with the click of a button, I can order full thyroid panel that give a much better indicator of thyroid disease.
4. The fourth important reason you might want to order your own lab testing is for privacy concerns. There are many labs that have results you might want to keep off your medical record and to yourself. STD testing is a perfect example. Now, it’s possible to order and take online STD tests in the privacy and comfort of your own home, and get the results and treatment plan anonymously.
Six Suggested Lab Tests
Eating well and managing stress is important, but it’s also important to use lab tests to monitor progress, changes, and any areas of concern. Here are six important tests necessary to monitor women’s health, including thyroid, female hormones, vitamin D, iron, omega testing, and sexual health.
1. Thyroid Panel
Most women have two major health complaints: lack of energy and difficulty in managing weight. Thyroid dysfunction is tied to both of these troublesome symptoms and is under diagnosed in millions of women.
The thyroid is a vital hormone gland that is responsible for numerous bodily functions, so low thyroid can set off a cascade of symptoms and disorders. Women are five to eight times more likely to have thyroid disease than men and one in eight women will develop thyroid disease in her lifetime.
Most mainstream doctors and endocrinologists just test TSH which only tells a part of the story of what’s going on with your thyroid. You really need the full panel to know what your thyroid is doing, including if you are converting T4 (the inactive form of thyroid hormone) to T3 (the active form of thyroid hormone), and to know if you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a common autoimmune disease where your body attacks the thyroid gland which can lead to low low thyroid hormone.
The At Home Thyroid Test Kit from LetsGetChecked tests not only the same thyroid hormones your physician would, but also associated antibodies that most physicians don’t check. It’s essential to check for these antibodies, since they can indicate thyroid damage.
For more information on testing your thyroid health at home, check out the LetsGetChecked thyroid panels (use code CARRIE15 for 15% off your order).
2. Female Hormone Tests
There are so many points in a woman’s life when it makes sense to test her hormones. From monitoring our fertility and ability to get pregnant, to identifying estrogen dominance, to diagnosing and managing PCOS, the numbers can explain a lot about our symptoms and what we can do to manage them. Both the production and elimination of hormones are essential for every facet of our overall health.
If you’re considering getting pregnant, you’ll want to make sure your hormones and health are at optimal levels for conception and a healthy pregnancy, birth, and postpartum life. Essential elements for female hormone testing include:
- follicle stimulating hormone
- luteinizing hormone
- ovarian reserve
LetsGetChecked also has an Ovarian Reserve Test that checks Anti-Mullerian Hormone which can be an indicator of how many eggs a woman has left.
The LetsGetChecked blog has a great post on when you’re the most fertile.
Having too much estrogen in relation to your other hormones (specifically testosterone and progesterone) is a condition called estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance is becoming increasingly common due to the xenoestrogens present in our water, personal care products, and household objects.
Estrogen dominance is dangerous because it’s linked to higher rates of hormonal cancers, autoimmune disease, candida overgrowth, and thyroid disease.
Xenoestrogens mimic estrogen in the body and block our body’s ability to produce our own estrogen in healthy amounts. You can reduce your risk of estrogen dominance by:
- switching to BPA-free glass food containers
- avoiding plastics as much as possible
- investing in a water filter
- using non-hormonal birth control methods
- supporting your body’s natural detoxification pathways
- switching to safer, non-toxic personal care and household products
PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, is estimated to affect one in ten women. Women with PCOS develop multiple cysts on their ovaries due to hormonal imbalance and can face permanent consequences such as infertility.
The typical woman with PCOS experiences insulin resistance, difficulty managing weight, chronic cystic acne (typically along the jawline and chin), excess hair in uncommon places, and missing or irregular periods. Many doctors believe that PCOS is a permanent condition, and that birth control or medication is the only way to “treat” the diagnosis.
However, following a lifestyle focused on hormonal balance can manage your symptoms and even put your PCOS into remission. Focus on a whole foods diet low in sugar and high in blood sugar regulating healthy fats, make stress management your job, and reduce your exposure to environmental toxins and xenoestrogens.
The LetsGetChecked Progesterone and Female Hormone tests can help indicate if you might have PCOS.
3. Vitamin D Testing
Vitamin D may be the most crucial vitamin for our overall health. Vitamin D is actually neither a vitamin nor a hormone–rather, it’s a precursor hormone that affects multiple bodily functions. If you are deficient in Vitamin D, your health can be affected negatively in multiple ways.
Unfortunately, up to 50% of people are deficient in Vitamin D due to overconsumption of processed foods and sugar, overly stressful lifestyles, and a lack of sunlight. Vitamin D is used by the body for mood regulation, immune system health, hormone production, bone health, and reduction of heart disease risk.
In order to accurately supplement with Vitamin D, testing is key. You must know your levels in order to determine your dosage. Be sure you’re getting sun exposure to bare skin whenever possible and supplementing with vitamin D capsules. Eating a nutrient-rich diet that includes animal products such as fatty fish, grass-fed beef, and pasture-raised eggs can help as well.
Order the LetsGetChecked Vitamin D test now to test your levels.
4. Iron Testing
Iron is another important nutrient that many women of child-bearing age be deficient in. A real foods diet can provide most people with adequate iron levels, but overconsumption of processed foods, heavy menstrual cycles, and a vegetarian or vegan diet can can lead to iron deficiency anemia.
On the other hand, a lot of people can have too much iron in the blood. This condition, known as iron overload, can also have negative health effects, including liver problems, diabetes, and heart failure.
Testing iron in the blood is important, but not enough. It’s important to also be testing ferritin, total iron-binding capacity, and transferrin saturation to ensure you can adequately store and use iron in your body. Having adequate iron is not enough if it’s unable to be used by the body.
- Ferritin is what stores iron in your body. Testing your ferritin levels identifies the storage capacity of iron in your body
- Total iron-binding capacity, or TIBC, is a measure of all the available iron-transporting proteins in your body
- Transferrin saturation measure your level of transferrin, which is formed in the liver and transports iron around your body
LetsGetChecked tests ferritin, TIBC, transferrin, and iron in order to give you an accurate picture of your health.
5. Omega Testing
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are named essential fatty acids because we cannot produce them in the body–we must obtain them from our diet. Any food containing fat contains either omega-3 fatty acids or omega-6 fatty acids.
But, it’s the ratio between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the body that is key to managing disease risk and overall health. Omega-3 fats are, put simply, anti-inflammatory. omega-6 fats are important as well, but can become inflammatory when found in processed oils or eaten out of ratio with omega-3 fats. Aim for a ratio of 2:1 or, ideally, 1:1 of omega-3 fats to omega-6 fats.
Women especially need to get an ideal ratio of 0mega-3 to omega-6 fats. An imbalance can lead to inflammation in the body, which affects several key areas most women want to manage, including:
- Skin inflammation such as acne or rashes
- Heart health: Women are more at risk for heart disease than men, so reducing your risk with adequate omega-3 consumption is crucial
- Rheumatoid arthritis: Women are more susceptible to rheumatoid arthritis and an ideal omega-3 balance can help reduce inflammation and soothe symptoms
- Osteoporosis: Women naturally have a lower bone density than men, and a decrease in estrogen during menopause can also have an effect on bone density. Consuming more omega-3 fats has a positive effect on women’s bone mineral density
- Mood health: due to the delicate balance of hormones and their effect on the brain, women often struggle more with mood disorders than men. Depression in particular is more common among women. Studies have found that those with mood disorders are often deficient in omega-3 fats, and that supplementation helped regulate mood
- Menstrual health: the body needs plenty of healthy, anti-inflammatory fats as the building blocks of hormones. Omega-3 fats should be the cornerstone of healthy fats for hormonal health. In addition, the anti-inflammatory effect of omega-3 fats can reduce inflammation pain including menstrual cramps
Order Omega testing online through LetsGetChecked to find out your status (use code CARRIE15 for 15% off your order).
6. STD Testing
It’s not fun to think about, but the truth is that women are more at risk than men in acquiring some sexually transmitted diseases, and it’s more important than ever to get yourself tested. It’s especially important if you have a new partner, no matter how old you are.
STD rates are on the rise, and have been for the past sixteen or so years. At least 80% of STDs are asymptomatic, meaning they often go unnoticed and untreated. Yet, those with asymptomatic STDs are still contagious. Learn more about what are the most common STDs on the LetsGetChecked blog.
When left untreated, STDs spread more rapidly and can lead to much more serious health issues. Women are at risk for PID, or pelvic inflammatory disorder, when they contract an STD. Untreated STDs have the risk of causing reproductive health issues, including infertility.
If you are uncomfortable or unable to visit a physician or clinic for STD testing, at-home testing is a great option and leaves you with no excuse for not getting tested!
LetsGetChecked has individual tests or groups of tests for all types of common STDs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are common lab tests?
Common lab tests for general health include cholesterol, liver enzymes, kidney function, vitamin D, thyroid, blood sugars, and other metabolic markers.
What do my blood tests mean?
It’s important to consult with a qualified healthcare provider to determine what your blood tests mean. All of the LetsGetChecked test results are reviewed and delivered by a qualified healthcare professional. Sometimes, you might need to re-take the test or make changes and re-test later to see the effects of any changes or treatments. Some tests might indicate a need for further testing or treatment.
Can you order your own lab tests?
Yes! I use and recommend the company LetsGetChecked (use code CARRIE15 for 15% off your order). The tests from this company are legal in all 50 states in the United States, although not all the tests are deliverable to all 50 states. While the LetsGetChecked tests are not currently covered by insurance, you can use your HSA dollars. LetsGetChecked tests are run by highly-accredited labs, reviewed by physicians, and kept securely with anonymized patient IDs and confidential results.
Taking lab tests should be an important part of your personal health plan. Each test has a different purpose and can help answer questions about symptoms you’re having or if you’re at risk for certain conditions. The results of your lab tests can help you make changes to your diet, supplement, or exercise routine, and help you monitor changes over your lifetime.
Remember: test, don’t guess. Now, with the support of online lab testing that you can order and complete in the comfort of your own home, there’s no excuse not to keep up on this important task.