Low energy, decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and hair loss are enough symptoms to make you wonder what’s wrong with your body, perhaps enough to make you consider testosterone testing.
It has been estimated that up to 25% of men who receive testosterone replacement therapy do not undergo testosterone testing to determine their levels before treatment. Let’s discuss why testosterone testing is so important and how you and your doctor can use the results. Let’s dive in!
What is testosterone?
More than simply a “male” sex hormone, testosterone is produced in both men and women and is responsible for puberty maturation, muscle and bone growth, increased body hair, and sex drive, among other functions.
Low testosterone (low T) in men and high testosterone in women can produce anything from bothersome symptoms to serious health implications, so testosterone testing is essential.
What is testosterone testing?
Testosterone testing checks the level of testosterone in your blood and is primarily used to diagnose the cause of symptoms that could result from too high or too low testosterone. It may also be used to discover the cause of early or delayed puberty in children or teens.
What is the best test for testosterone levels?
Which testosterone test you get is dependent on your symptoms and should be suggested by your healthcare provider.
The three types of testosterone testing
- Total testosterone test – measures the levels of free testosterone (not attached to a protein) as well as testosterone attached to a protein and is the most common of tests.
- Free testosterone test – measures the active form (not attached to any substance) of testosterone and is useful for diagnosing certain health conditions such as infertility, anemia, and depression.
- Bioavailable testosterone test – measures both free testosterone and testosterone attached to the protein albumin and helps diagnose hypogonadism in men or to monitor testosterone hormone therapies.
It is recommended that you have all three testosterone tests performed, especially if you are experiencing a host of symptoms that are not explained by other testing.
Additionally, because testosterone levels can vary throughout the day, it is recommended that you have at least two tests performed on two different days, ideally in the morning around 8 am when levels are the highest.
Is It Worth Checking Testosterone Levels?
Yes. A wise person said, “You must always inspect what you expect.” Starting treatment for a condition without being certain of its existence is never advisable. The same thing applies to testosterone replacement therapy. Although it is rare, you can receive too much testosterone. The American Urological Association (AUA) suggests administering the lowest dose possible for testosterone replacement therapy to get to a range of 450-600 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl).
The dangers of increasing testosterone levels too much too quickly in men can be prostate swelling, breast enlargement, worsening of sleep apnea, fluid retention, and even an increase in bad cholesterol which can lead to heart problems.
Testosterone testing can eliminate these concerns by revealing current levels before, during, and after treatment.
What are the signs of low testosterone in males?
Most doctors agree that low T is classified as levels below 300ng/dl, and because everyone is different, the signs of low T can vary, but for most men, the signs are evident.
Physical signs of low T in males:
- Reduced muscle mass
- Increased body fat
- Low energy and fatigue
- Decreased physical performance
- Hair loss
Cognitive signs of low T in males:
- Poor concentration and memory
Sexual signs of low T in males:
- Reduced sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
The above symptoms are results of low T, but they can also be caused by a variety of other factors, so testosterone testing is essential for determination.
Testosterone levels by age
For adult men ages 19-49 – 249-836 ng/dl
For adult men 50 and older – 193-740 ng/dl
What happens during testosterone testing?
The testosterone test will usually be performed in the morning between the hours of 7 and 10 am, when levels are highest. The professional will conduct a simple blood test by collecting a sample through a vein in your arm. Certain substances such as steroids or barbiturates can taint the results, so it is recommended that you test at least twice for accuracy.
Testosterone testing is mostly quick and painless (only a small sting from needle insertion and extraction).
What do the results of a testosterone test mean?
Because testosterone levels fluctuate from day to day and hour to hour, if the results of the testosterone test indicate low levels or high levels, another test may be ordered. Your primary care physician may want to order additional tests such as a DHEAS or a biopsy to determine or rule out underlying causes of low T including but not limited to:
- Chronic diseases such as liver or kidney disease
- Injury to the testicles
- Benign tumors
- Genetic conditions
- Alcohol use disorder
Only testosterone testing and other clinical tests performed in a professional testing laboratory can reveal if your low T is a result of aging or something more sinister.
How do you get your testosterone levels checked?
You can contact your primary care physician to discuss your symptoms and get a recommendation for which testosterone testing you should get if any. He or she can perform preliminary testing to rule out other causes or offer a referral to a licensed medical testing lab that can perform all the tests at once for one low price.
Where can you get testosterone testing without going through the hassle of insurance, long wait times for testing and results, and hidden fees and unnecessary procedures that cost you more than a simple lab test?
ARCpoint Labs provides testosterone testing tailored to your unique symptoms in any of our 130+ nationwide locations. For most, you can simply walk in or call for a same-day appointment. We always give you up-front pricing, conveniently accept HSA/FSA payments, and never put you through the hassle of insurance.
Reach out today to find answers about your specific testosterone levels and low T symptoms so that you can take charge of your health and your life!