Testosterone does much more than drive a man’s libido. It’s essential to everything from red blood cell production to building muscle and bone mass. When the body doesn’t produce enough, it can significantly compromise a man’s mood, energy levels, and cognitive function.
The fact is, low testosterone (or “low-T”) can be a serious drag on a man’s daily life and mental health. And it’s way more common, under-diagnosed, and stigmatized than it should be.
The stats around low testosterone are pretty astounding. Nearly 39% of men aged 45 years or older suffer from testosterone deficiency, and average levels have declined precipitously for decades. It’s true: today’s average 30-year-old male has 17% less testosterone than an average 30-year-old man from 2000 (just 20 years ago). No one knows exactly why sperm and testosterone counts are decreasing so rapidly, but it’s rather surprising given how little anyone talks about “low-T.”
It’s natural for men in their 20s to hit their prime testosterone levels and start to detect a decline in their mid-30s. However, some experience unnaturally low hormone levels for their age. There are many over-the-counter supplements marketed with the promise of “fixing” men’s testosterone-related dips in energy and libido. Yet, those same men remain unaware of the legitimate prescription treatments that a doctor can prescribe.
Thankfully, change is in the air. Like so much of healthcare these days, low testosterone consultation and hormone treatment are moving online, with an exciting startup named Hone (honehealth.com) pioneering the space. Today we’ll use our space to review Hone — formerly known as Peak — and outline how they’re rewriting the rules against traditionally expensive, clinic-based hormone therapy. We’ll also learn how their platform actually makes it easier to treat the devastating symptoms that reduced testosterone levels can wreak on men as they age, and explain why it’s worth trying.
What treatment does Hone Health offer men with low-T?
Source: Hone Health
Hone is a telemedicine company that enables men to treat their low testosterone with diagnosis and guidance from a network of board-certified doctors – all without leaving home.
The “how” is simple. Hone mails you an at-home testing kit that includes everything you need to accurately measure your current hormone levels. Just prick your finger to collect a few drops of blood in the provided collection cards, then mail back the sample in a pre-paid envelope to a CLIA-certified lab for processing. Once your results are ready, you’ll schedule a video chat with a certified doctor who reviews them with you, understands how you are feeling, and recommends a treatment plan that targets your specific needs.
Where is Hone Health available?
Due to state specific regulations, Hone Health currently operates in 34 states, including:
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
The company is rapidly growing and planning to expand into those states, and possibly others, by the end of the year. It’s worth triple-checking their availability by emailing Hone directly: [email protected].
Is there an age requirement to use Hone’s hormone therapy?
Nope. Treatment is based entirely on bloodwork and symptoms, which we describe more in detail later.
How to get HRT from Hone Health
Getting hormone optimization treatment from Hone is a simple two step process. Here’s how it works:
Step 1: At-home hormone test kit
After ordering online, you’ll receive a kit that measures the levels of 8 hormones:
- Free testosterone: Testosterone that’s not attached to proteins (“free”)
- Total testosterone: The total amount of testosterone that’s in the blood (free and bound)
- Luteinizing Hormone (LH): A hormone that stimulates testosterone production in the testes
- Estradiol: One of three estrogen hormones
- Sex-Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG): A liver protein that binds to three sex hormones
- Albumin: A liver protein that carries hormones, vitamins, enzymes, and more through the body
- Alanine aminotransferase (ALT): A liver enzyme
A $45 charge covers the cost of the kit itself, all lab work, and a virtual physician consultation to discuss results and necessary next steps as determined by your doctor. It’s worth noting that all of this – seeing a specialist in person, getting referred to a local lab – can easily cost in excess of $300. By way of comparison, another popular at-home testosterone test option offered by LetsGetChecked costs $69.
Yes, this process does require a small blood sample. However, Hone’s at-home testing kit reduces collection to a quick, painless finger prick, which provides enough blood for the lab to properly analyze. The consultation is an opportunity for you to review test results with a physician one-on-one and decide whether or not to move forward with treatment.
If you have recent lab work you can share with Hone’s medical team, you might not have to complete the testing kit in order to receive treatment. Check with [email protected] for more details.
2) Monthly subscription of hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
HRT treatments vary per individual, but they usually include one of the following combos:
- Testosterone only
- Testosterone and clomid
- Testosterone and anastrozole
- Testosterone, clomid, and anastrozole
- Preventative and customized proactive supplements packs
Testosterone treatment is available as a cream, an intramuscular injection, or sublingual troches (medicated tablets that dissolve beneath your tongue). Clomid and anastrozole both come in the form of pills. Monthly prescriptions usually cost between $160 – $200 and include scheduled Rx delivery, 24/7 Hone access, and video consultations with a doctor. Retesting and monitoring your levels every 90 days are also included in the cost.
Before we delve too deep into TRT, let’s quickly review the basics.
The Basics of Low T
As we all know, testosterone is the primary male hormone. It’s an androgen (i.e. steroid) hormone that promotes the characteristics we attribute to men, including sperm production, penis and testes size, muscle mass, facial and body hair, and voice deepening. It’s also vital for red blood cell production and increased bone density.
According to Harvard Health, “[Testosterone] levels peak by early adulthood and drop as you age—up to 2% per year beginning around age 30. Normal levels are between 300 and 1,000 ng/dL.”
What are the symptoms of low testosterone?
Men with low T may experience the following symptoms:
- Fatigue (common)
- Sexual dysfunction (common)
- Physical weakness
- Depression, moodiness, anxiety
- Increased body fat
- Loss of muscle
- Cognitive difficulties
- Low libido
Having one or more of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have low-T, since there are many contributing factors to consider. However, it’s worth having your hormone levels checked to determine if that’s the root of your problem.
What causes low testosterone?
Again, there are many factors to consider when determining significant hormone deficiency. Low-T is linked to obesity, short-term or chronic illness, alcohol abuse, medications, and injuries. When the testes simply fail to produce the necessary amounts of testosterone, it’s called Male Hypogonadism, of which there are two kinds:
- Primary Hypogonadism is when the testes fail to produce enough testosterone, despite receiving brain signals to do so
- Secondary (or Central) Hypogonadism occurs when the brain fails to properly signal the testes to produce enough testosterone
Testosterone replacement therapy is the traditional action recommended for treating both or either of these conditions, so let’s cover that next.
What is testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) exactly?
TRT is a form of male hormone treatment that boosts the amount of testosterone in your body. In doing so, it counters the effects of low-T.
Testosterone dosages are small and most are applied daily. (Injections usually occur biweekly or monthly.) Each form of TRT – creams, injections, patches, or troches – comes with its own pros and cons, so it’s important to speak with your doctor about what may work best for your lifestyle.
Benefits of hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
Though results may vary based on initial symptoms and the individual, there are many benefits that HRT provides men with low-T, including:
- Boosted energy
- Improved mood
- Increased libido and sexual function
- Improved cognition
- Boosted muscle mass
- Increased bone density
- Reduced body fat
Bear in mind, hormone replacement can effectively alleviate the symptoms of low-T, but it’s not a “fountain of youth.” (Though how cool would that be?) The goal of TRT is simply to get your hormone levels back to normal, not to counter the natural process of aging.
Is HRT / TRT covered by insurance?
Insurances may cover TRT treatment if your testosterone levels fall below an accepted minimum norm of 300 ng/dL. However, every insurance provider is different. Be sure to consult with your provider to understand which medications are covered and if there’s any documentation you must provide. Some providers may require multiple hormone tests during specific times in a day to prove that you qualify for coverage.
Does Hone Health accept insurance for TRT?
At this time, Hone Health does not accept health insurance. However, their price is reasonable in that their overall service includes access to a certified doctor and repeat lab work every 90 days. Thus you’ll have to pay out of pocket for Hone TRT, but its pricing is competitive with most other digital TRT clinics. Plus their process is extremely convenient.
What are the side effects of TRT?
The long-term effects of TRT are still unclear. There’s an ongoing debate around potential risks to the heart or prostate. Doctors believe more randomized tests are required for any findings to be deemed conclusive, but it’s important to be aware of any and all potential health risks.
Potential short-term side effects of TRT:
- Acne, hair growth, oily skin
- Flushing of skin
- Breast swelling or tenderness
- Sleep apnea
- Ankle swelling/fluid retention (edema)
Potential long-term health risks of TRT:
- Cardiovascular risks (potential for stroke or heart attack)
- High red blood cell count (potential blood clotting)
- Increased risk of prostate cancer
Note: Men with a history of prostate or breast cancer, obesity, sleep apnea, or cardiac, hepatic, or renal disease, may be advised against TRT treatment. The physician will cover all of this in detail during the consultation, if you decide to move forward with Hone Health.
How is Hone different from other hormone treatment providers?
Source: Hone Health
Hone Health is unique relative to both in-person clinics and other online TRT clinics for several reasons.
1) Remote TRT via telemedicine
Telemedicine allows patients and healthcare professionals to connect via video, phone, or email for diagnosis, treatment, and general care. Through Hone’s telemedicine services, men can have access to hormone test kits and TRT treatments from their living room couch.
In the era of COVID-19, the ability to access healthcare services without visiting a doctor’s office is invaluable. Beyond that, the cost of transportation or taking time off work no longer act as deterrents for men in need of medical care. For those who act as caregivers or live in remote locations, Hone enables patients to access the care they need without sacrificing the time or money to do so.
2) Quality of care
A quick look at Hone’s team of doctors shows an impressive breadth of expertise, many with med school alma maters like Dartmouth, Harvard, and Brown. Hone Health also works exclusively with labs that are CLIA and CAP certified, meaning lab test quality is monitored by the government and peer-reviewed by lab professionals.
For an at-home TRT solution, the guarantee of high-quality care is vital. Hone reduces the emotional and physical stress of searching for the right team of experts by doing the vetting for you. All patients have to do is log on to Hone’s portal and speak with a specialist. No hassle.
3) Personalized male hormone health
In its own words, Hone delivers “total male individualized health.” Instead of treating one symptom at a time, the company aims to treat male healthcare holistically. It strives to provide patient care that’s customized to each of its customers.
Here’s why: Before co-founding Hone, CEO Saad Alam struggled to find his own team of TRT specialists to treat his low-T symptoms. Armed with that drawn-out, negative experience and the realization that many men are equally struggling, Alam and the company’s mission became simple: To virtually connect patients with top hormone specialists, and to emphasize that TRT isn’t intimidating, expensive, or overcomplicated.
Hone Health is still young (it launched in 2020), so they’re working hard to differentiate themselves in the men’s telehealth space. Yet their commitment to personalization and convenience is something we haven’t previously seen much among telemedicine companies.
How to get HRT from Hone Health
Step 1: Order Hone’s at-home hormone test
Ordering a kit on Hone’s website simply requires filling out a contact form and giving delivery and billing info. When the kit arrives, it’ll include comprehensive instructions on how and when to take the hormone test. Men are recommended to take the test early in the morning to capture their true levels.
After sending the blood sample off to the lab, your test results should be ready in about four to five days. Once you receive them, you will schedule a video chat with a board-certified doctor.
Step 2: Consult with a board-certified physician
During your consultation, the doctor will likely throw you a lot of information, so be ready to take notes. (Or don’t and just wait for the detailed diagnosis at the end 👍) The consultation usually lasts around 30 minutes, offering you and the physician ample time to answer questions and talk through your results, recommended treatment, and potential side effects.
Most consultations are conducted virtually, but in some cases the doctor might request additional lab work or an in-person visit to make sure you can safely continue with your treatment plan. In those instances, the Hone team will arrange for the additional tests to be sent to you or schedule an in-home visit.
Step 3: Relax and wait for your Hone hormone subscription to arrive
If you decide to move forward with treatment, every month you’ll get your hormone therapy prescriptions delivered to your door. With the help of your doctor, you can adjust dosages or refine your Rx combo as you both track your progress. Depending on treatment, you can start feeling better in as little as a couple of weeks, though it can take two to three months to start feeling the full benefits of your treatment.
Low T Treatment Comparison: Hone Health vs Roman vs Ageless Male vs Low T Center
Well-known brands in the testosterone therapy space are over-the-counter men’s health supplements – like Roman and Ageless Male – and in-person health clinics like Low T Center. Here’s how Hone stacks up:
Testosterone Treatments: Hone vs Low T Center vs Roman vs Ageless Male
Roman Testosterone Support
|Types of Low-T Treatments||Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT)||Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT)||Nutritional supplement|
|Dietary supplement |
|How to access treatment||At Home||In-person visits to clinic||Shipped to your house||Shipped to your house|
|Doctor’s Consultation Required?||Yes, virtual||Yes, in person||No||No|
*Will soon accept HSA/FSA cards
*But often only for preventative services, not TRT,.
|Geographic Availability||40 states|
*Not yet available in NY, CA, or FL.
Full list of locations here.
|Monthly Subscription Pricing||Preventative Plan: $40/month|
Proactive Plan: $70/month
Pharmaceutical Plan: $160/month
(Full details here)
|Insurance Hybrid Plan: $85/month|
Self-Pay Plan: $135/month
Self-Pay All In-Office Care Plan: $250/month
(Full details here)
|Monthly plan: $35 per month|
Quarterly plan: $87 every 3 months or $29/month
(Get $15 off your first order!)
|$49.95 / bottle (30-day supply)|
|Initial Testing Fee||$45 for test kit, lab analysis, and consultation.||$99 for in-person health assessment including testing and consultation.||–||–|
Hone Health Reviews: What are customers saying about their low t treatments?
Because Hone Health is relatively new, its online reviews are still fairly limited. That said, the service boasts a 4.8/5 on TrustPilot from 380 reviews at the time of publishing. We’ve shared a few that capture the general sentiment below, and encourage you to look at Hone’s website, which also has a section that highlights stories of men who have used and benefited from their treatment.
The Verdict: Is Hone Health’s hormone replacement therapy (HRT) legit?
If you’re experiencing any low-T symptoms like fatigue or decreased libido, it’s definitely worth having your hormone levels tested. Hone eliminating the need to visit a doctor’s office and creating an open channel between patients and physicians online makes this a no-brainer. Unlike supplements like Roman and Ageless Male, Hone Health also offers Rx prescriptions that have been vetted by medical professionals and customized to your unique situation. Plus, their $45 price point (for the initial test, lab work, and doctor’s consultation) is extremely competitive, as testosterone tests can normally cost anywhere from $50 to $300.
If you’re looking for affordable, reliable TRT or you’re just curious as to whether or not you should try it, Hone offers the most convenient way to test your hormone levels and get a personalized treatment plan prescribed by a doctor. If you want to get started, order an at-home testing kit today.
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