How to Measure Your Testosterone Level

By on September 6, 2016
How to Measure Your Testosterone Level

There was a time when low testosterone was whispered about behind closed doors, but that is no longer the case. Today, testosterone deficiency is discussed in much the same manner as menopause. It is a fact of life that hormone levels such as testosterone decline with age. It is also a fact that some men, and women for that matter, will suffer ill effects of this decrease while others will continue on with their daily life as if nothing has changed. The same holds true for women dealing with menopause. Some suffer immensely from hot flashes and sleep-inhibiting night sweats while others have nary a change.

Those individuals who do experience adverse or unwanted symptoms associated with hormonal discord turn to hormone replacement therapy specialists for blood tests that measure their various chemical levels. These tests show if testosterone, progesterone, growth hormone, or estrogen levels are above or below normal.

Checking testosterone levels is not as simple as it might sound. First, there are three different types of tests:

Total testosterone
Free testosterone
Bioavailable testosterone

Some doctors choose only to test total or free testosterone. This is never a good idea. While it is not vital to check bioavailable testosterone levels, both free and total testosterone must be measured. Total testosterone includes the percentage of testosterone that is bound to either albumin or sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) along with what is floating free in the bloodstream. It is the free testosterone that can have an impact on a person’s well-being as only free testosterone is available for the body to use. The albumin and SHBG carry the bound testosterone through the blood to the receptor sites and then the testosterone breaks free to be used. Bioavailable testosterone includes both the free and the albumin bound testosterone.

Unfortunately, there is also an enzyme called aromatase waiting to convert that free testosterone into estradiol (estrogen) before it can be utilized by the body. If this occurs, a person may experience symptoms of Low T and estrogen dominance.

What Is a “Normal” Testosterone Level?

The word “normal” applies to testosterone levels in many different ways. First of all, there is a numerical range that various health organizations and labs have fixed to what they believe is the right amount of testosterone for males or females at a given age. Unfortunately, there is no consensus among these groups, so what one considers to be high or low, another may see as in the normal or average specter. Normal is also how each person’s body handles his or her range of testosterone.

How is a doctor going to make a diagnosis if there is no set range to use?

By taking what is considered the lowest end of the normal spectrum along with the highest, hormone specialists can have a rough idea of where someone falls on the chart.

For example, normal readings for total testosterone for adult males can be anywhere between 270 and 1070 ng/dL also depending on one’s age. Free testosterone averages between 50 and 210 pg/mL.

A woman should have total testosterone ranging from 15 to 70 ng/dL and free testosterone between 1.0 and 8.5 pg/mL.

In addition to age, women also have differences based on birth control use, as well as if they have undergone an oophorectomy (surgical removal of the ovaries).

Because the normal ranges are so varied and widespread, doctors will diagnose a person with Low T if he or she falls in the lower end of what is considered normal if symptoms of low testosterone are present. That is why a physical examination and complete health history questionnaire are also included in the diagnostic process.

What Does the Testosterone Test Result Mean?

It is important not to get too hung-up on the testosterone test result. One man may have levels below the bottom end of the normal spectrum and still not have any symptoms of Low T at all. This is someone who would not require treatment because ultimately the low testosterone levels are not affecting his life. Another man may still be well within what is considered the lower end of the normal scale, but his symptoms may be destroying his life. The HRT specialist will still diagnose Low T at this time because the symptoms back up how the current decline in testosterone production is affecting his life.

Testosterone replacement therapy offered by Nexel Medical  is an excellent convenient option when Low T is the diagnosis, which should only be treated under a doctor’s supervision. Testosterone therapy is safe when needed, but can cause unwanted side effects when used unnecessarily. Contact a hormone replacement specialist for further information about checking your testosterone levels for Low T.

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How to Measure Your Testosterone Level