Testosterone is a hormone that controls many essential body processes, such as sex drive, energy levels, and muscular growth. While testosterone is mainly attributed as a male hormone, women also produce this sex hormone or androgen in small quantities. There are many health conditions and lifestyle factors that affect testosterone levels, both for better and for worse.
Having a normal testosterone level is crucial for both men and women. Low testosterone levels can cause a variety of symptoms and health problems. The same goes for high testosterone levels. That’s why it’s so important to get your testosterone level checked if you think you may have an abnormal testosterone level range.
Fortunately, testing for low testosterone is relatively simple.
Here’s what you need to know about testosterone, how to test for low testosterone, what the results might mean, and ways to naturally boost your testosterone levels.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a male sex hormone that’s responsible for the development of male sex organs and characteristics, such as a deeper voice and body hair. This hormone also plays a role in bone and muscle health, sex drive, and sperm production. Testosterone also affects mood, energy levels, and red blood cell production.
When there’s a reduction of testosterone levels in your body, this condition, which is also called hypogonadism, can occur. This can cause a litany of symptoms, including low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, muscle weakness, fatigue, and even depression.
There are two main classifications of testosterone that are found in the body: free testosterone and total testosterone. Free testosterone refers to unbound testosterone molecules that are available to enter cells and bind to androgen receptors. Total testosterone includes both free and bound testosterone.
Total testosterone mainly floats around in the blood bound to two different proteins:
- Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG): This protein attaches to testosterone, making it unavailable for use to the rest of the body.
- Albumin: This protein is one of the most common proteins found in the body, and also binds to testosterone.
The amount of testosterone that’s free and available to enter cells is only a tiny fraction of the total testosterone in the body. In addition, the higher your SHBG levels, the lower free testosterone you’ll have circulating in your body. Conversely, lower SHBG levels mean that more free testosterone is available.
Testosterone: Normal Ranges
Testosterone levels typically decline with age. This natural decrease usually begins after age 30 and continues throughout the rest of a person’s life.
For males, the normal testosterone level is 300 to 750 ng/dL. For females, a sufficient range of testosterone levels in the body is around 15 to 70 ng/dL.
Declining testosterone levels appear more frequently in older men. About 1 out of 5 men over 60 years old have total testosterone levels below the normal range, whereas this figure rises to 1 in 2 men over 80 years old.
One overlooked aspect of testosterone testing is the time of day that the test is conducted. This is because testosterone levels vary throughout the day, with the highest levels typically occurring in the morning and lower levels in the evening.
For this reason, when testing testosterone levels, it’s important to get the blood test done as early in the morning as possible. About 7 am to 10 am is ideal. To smooth out the variance, you can also consider getting your testosterone levels checked twice and averaging the two results.
When to Consider Testosterone Testing
Getting tested is important because there’s a sizable percentage of men who don’t experience symptoms, despite having a testosterone deficiency.
The primary testosterone tests you’ll take are blood tests. Most tests measure total testosterone to determine the level of testosterone in the body. In some cases, free testosterone or bioavailable testosterone tests may also be ordered to diagnose certain conditions.
That said, to be prescribed a low testosterone test, doctors will look for symptoms of low testosterone. These can include:
- Hair loss
- Swollen breasts
- Weak bones
- Loss of muscle mass
- Low libido
If you’re experiencing one or a combination of these symptoms, a testosterone test is likely in order.
Testosterone Test Procedure
A normal testosterone test procedure goes as follows:
- You’ll be asked to avoid eating and drinking after midnight.
- You may also be asked to stop taking prescription medication before the test. This includes barbiturates, anticonvulsants, and testosterone therapies.
- You visit the clinic, usually early in the morning, to perform a testosterone blood test.
- Then, a nurse or medical technologist will take a blood sample from your vein, typically from your arm.
- Once the blood is drawn, it will be sent to a laboratory to be analyzed.
- You’ll receive the results of your testosterone test in a few days. If the results look too low or too high, you’ll likely be asked to retake the test.
- If further testing needs to be done, such as a biopsy or androstenedione, your doctor may tell you to take these tests.
Aside from the symptoms caused by low testosterone, having low levels of this sex hormone might indicate other bodily problems, such as dementia or chronic sickness. That’s why it’s vital to consult with a male health doctor if you think you might have low testosterone levels.
Low Testosterone Treatment
When it comes to treating low testosterone, there are a few options available.
The first is testosterone therapy (TRT), which can be administered in several ways, such as injections, patches, gels, and pellets implanted under the skin. This is a research-backed method that can effectively treat testosterone deficiency.
The second option for treating low testosterone is to make lifestyle changes. This can include things like:
- Losing weight
- Eating the right diet (and avoiding the wrong food)
- Exercising regularly
- Reducing stress
- Getting enough sleep
- Quitting smoking
- Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption
Talk to your doctor about which treatment option is best for you.
Contact a Top Men’s Clinic for a Low Testosterone Testing and a Testosterone Replacement Therapy Consultation
Low testosterone levels are fairly common in older men. And as some men may be asymptomatic, it’s important to get tested if you think you may have low testosterone levels.
The good news is that there are treatments available if your levels are low, such as testosterone replacement therapy.
If you are experiencing symptoms of low testosterone, talk to your doctor about getting a testosterone test.
The medical professionals at Precise Men’s Medical Center in Cleveland specialize in treating conditions that impact men’s health. Our concierge approach positions your unique case at the centerpoint of our focus. We don’t just give you a pill and send you on your way. We treat the underlying issues that led to conditions such as erectile dysfunction, low testosterone, premature ejaculation, and more. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.