Testosterone is a crucial primary male sex hormone that performs many functions in the human body. Due to the same reason, it is also referred to as the androgen hormone.
The primary function of this hormone is to support the development of the male reproductive system and the muscles and bones.
Testosterone is made in the testicles of the main reproductive system.
On the other hand, in females, it is made by the ovaries. At the same time, the adrenal glands also make this hormone, along with several other hormones.
There are many times when the normal levels of testosterone in males may alter. With advancing age after 30, the males may have deteriorated levels of this hormone.
Moreover, since testosterone performs crucial functions in both males and females, any deficiency of this hormone could be detrimental to your health.
So here’s how you could get a testosterone test done to know whether your body has the optimal level of this hormone or not. Let’s know about the testosterone test in further detail.
What Is A Testosterone Test?
As the name is self-explanatory, a testosterone test is a test that could help your healthcare provider to know whether your body has too much or too little testosterone in the blood.
Conducting the testosterone test, in turn, could even help your healthcare provider to diagnose other underlying conditions.
Generally, the normal levels of testosterone in males in the morning may be around 300 to 1000 nanograms per DL.
However, this level may modify according to different factors like the time when the testosterone is drawn from the body, stress, comorbid medical conditions, or the age of the male.
So what might be normal for a 20-year-old male may not be more normal for a 17-year-old male. Moreover, the testosterone levels of women are significantly lower.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the testosterone levels collected in a sample of women were about 8 to 49 nanograms per deciliter.
What Is The Use Of Testosterone Test?
There are different reasons behind performing the testosterone test.
First of all, testosterone tests may be performed in collaboration with other tests to diagnose any condition that could be because by irregular levels of testosterone in the blood.
Other than this, the testosterone levels test may also be done on the children to find out the reason behind either their early or delayed puberty.
You may also undergo this testing to assess your health in case you are consuming medications that could affect your testosterone levels or had an abnormal testosterone test in the past.
Transgender men who take testosterone for gender-affirming hormone therapy might also undergo this test to assess their health conditions.
Types Of Testosterone Test
There are different types of testosterone in the human blood, like the testosterone which is attached to the proteins, or the free testosterone.
The testosterone attached to the proteins is not used right away and hence it could help to regulate the amount of active testosterone in the body.
On the other hand, free testosterone is not attached to any protein and hence, it may act on your tissues.
Total Testosterone Test
As the name itself suggests, under the total testosterone test, your healthcare provider will measure both the Free testosterone and the Testosterones that are attached to the protein.
The total testosterone test is the most common type of test that is undergone by people.
Bioavailable Testosterone Test
This is a rare type of testosterone test under which two types of testosterones are measured.
The first is the free testosterone and the second is the testosterone that is loosely attached to the albumin.
Free Testosterone Test
As the name itself suggests, under this testosterone test, your healthcare provider will measure only the active form of the testosterone.
This test could help to diagnose certain medical conditions and hence find their treatment options.
Free Testosterone Vs. Total Testosterone
There may be situations when you experience the symptoms of hypogonadism, like low energy or low levels of libido.
However, in this case, you decide to undergo the total testosterone test and discover that your total testosterone level is normal.
Now, why is it so? Conditions like hypogonadism are also affected by the level of free and bioavailable testosterone in the body.
Since the free testosterone is readily available in your bloodstream, having abnormal levels of this testosterone could result in symptoms of testosterone deficiency.
Different researches show that free testosterone levels tests are a better indicator of your testosterone deficiency as compared to the total testosterone levels test.
At the same time, low levels of total testosterone might not always be a health issue because this could just be a side effect of your body.
Let’s understand this with the help of an example-
When you are obese, the total testosterone levels in your body may decrease because insulin resistance lowers the sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) levels in your body.
However, at the same time, the free testosterone levels in your body may not be affected.
In simple words, the low level of total testosterone in your body shows that the androgen hormone production in your body may not be normal.
On the other hand, abnormal levels of free testosterone show that it could be a reason behind different symptoms in your body.
Symptoms Of Irregular Levels Of Testosterone
Once the testosterone test is completed, you may get results on whether your body has too high or too low levels of testosterone.
In case the testosterone level in the males is too low, then it could show certain symptoms of swollen breasts, and weak bones leading to osteoporosis.
It may further cause hair loss, trouble keeping an erection, low sex drive, trouble concentrating, depression, fatigue, and loss of muscle mass.
Sometimes, the reason behind low testosterone levels may also lower your sperm count.
Hence, if you have a low sperm count, then your doctor may suggest you get a testosterone test done because your testosterone levels might even be low.
On the other hand, if the testosterone levels are lower in the females, then they could include symptoms of vaginal dryness, fertility issues, weakened bones referred to as osteoporosis, and skipped or either no menstrual cycles.
Other than this, the symptoms of high testosterone levels in the females may include deepened voice.
They may further cause excess growth of hair on the body of the face, hair loss on the heads, darkened areas of skin, oily and acne-prone skin, enlarged clitoris, and skipped or no menstrual cycle again.
How Is Testosterone Test Performed?
Before your testosterone test, you must know all about this test so that you are not nervous during the procedure.
Generally, your healthcare provider may advise you to get your testosterone levels checked in the morning because the testosterone levels are highest at this time.
Moreover, before performing the test, your healthcare provider may even ask you about the medications you are consuming.
This is because certain medications could increase or decrease the levels of testosterone in your body.
Medications like opiates could reduce testosterone levels. On the other hand, medications like steroids or androgen, or estrogen therapies could bolster the testosterone levels in your body.
Telling your doctor about any of these medications ensures that your testosterone results are correct.
Thus, a testosterone test is similar to a blood test. Your healthcare provider will take a tube of blood from a vein in your arm.
You may also inform your doctor if you consume any herbal remedies or drugs because they could even affect the level of testosterone.
Many times the testosterone levels may be repeated because levels vary from day to day.
Home test kits are a straightforward method to assess the levels of testosterone in your body. Luckily, there are several at-home test kits available that you could get even without a prescription.
These kits are quite easy to use and may help to assess your testosterone levels. All you have to do is collect a swap of your saliva or blood and send it to the lab for testing.
Once this result is tested, your healthcare provider could analyze the levels of testosterone in your body.
Testosterone Test Results
Your doctor may inform you of the results of your testosterone tests based on whether the levels are too high or too low.
Optimum levels of testosterone depend on different factors like your gender and age as mentioned earlier.
Moreover, based on your results, you could even require other tests like a biopsy, prolactin, estrogens, DHEAS, Androstenedione (AD), and so on.
Thus this was all you need to know about testosterone tests. In case your results are not normal, then it may not necessarily mean that you need treatment for a medical condition.
On the other hand, testosterone levels tend to decrease with age normally. Moreover, certain medications may also affect your results.
So in case of abnormal tests, you may consult your healthcare provider and know the reason behind the abnormal levels.