How to Read Testosterone Test ReportTestosterone Test:
Testosterone is the main sex hormone in males and is responsible for several male physical characteristics. Testosterone is also present in females and is converted to estradiol, the main sex hormone in females. The hormone plays a vital role in sexual characteristics of both males and females. This test measures the level of testosterone in the blood.
There are two main types of testosterone tests:
- Total testosterone, which measures both attached and free testosterone.
- Free testosterone, which measures just free testosterone. Free testosterone can give more information about certain medical conditions.
Factors involved to understand the normal range of testosterone levels:
- What is the normal range of Testosterone Test?
- What do high levels of Testosterone mean?
- Symptoms of high levels of Testosterone
- Causes of high levels of Testosterone
- What do low levels of Testosterone mean?
- Symptoms of low levels of Testosterone
- Causes of low levels of Testosterone
- Precautions to be taken to maintain normal levels of Testosterone
- Are there any risks associated with Testosterone test?
- What other tests are ordered along with Testosterone test?
What is the normal range of Testosterone Test?
Normal range of testosterone in men is between 270-1070 ng/dL with an average result of 300 ng/dL. The normal range of testosterone levels in men vary according to the stage of maturity and age.
In women, it is in the range of 15-70 ng/dL.
What do high levels of Testosterone mean?
Increased levels of testosterone in men are an indication of several conditions. These conditions may include:
- Testicular tumors
- Adrenal tumors that produce excess testosterone
- Use of androgens
- Unexplained early puberty in boys
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia in babies and children
In females, high levels of testosterone may indicate:
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Ovarian or adrenal gland tumor
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
Symptoms of high levels of Testosterone
Common signs and symptoms of high testosterone in men include:
- Blood pressure changes
- Sexual health problems such as erectile dysfunction, low sex drive, and low sperm count
- Excessive body hair
- Early male pattern balding on head
- Mood changes such as irritability, depression, and anxiety
Other additional signs and symptoms may include:
- Pain in chest
- Troubled breathing
- Slurred or difficult speech
- Polycythemia vera, a condition caused by overproduction of RBCs
- Decreased levels of HDL cholesterol
- Abnormal prostate gland growth
- Peripheral edema
- Heart attack or stroke
- Sleep apnea or other sleep disorders
Signs and symptoms of high levels of testosterone in women may include:
- Excessive body hair growth
- Increase in muscle mass
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Deep voice
- Low sex drive
- Mood changes
- Decreased fertility
- Reduction in breast size
- Unexplained weight gain
In severe cases, higher testosterone levels can cause obesity and infertility. Having balanced levels of testosterone is necessary for optimal health and growth for both the sexes.
Causes of high levels of Testosterone
Testosterone levels in men generally increase due to underlying conditions and other factors. These conditions include:
- Tumor growth near adrenal gland or testicles
- Use of anabolic steroids
- Testosterone supplements like gels, patches, or injections
- Testosterone replacement therapy for low levels
Drugs such as anticonvulsants, barbiturates, and clomiphene can also cause a rise in the testosterone levels.
Increased levels of testosterone in women may be due to:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Use and abuse of steroids
- Adrenal disorders
- Hirsutism, condition that causes excessive unwanted hair growth
What do low levels of Testosterone mean?
Lower than normal levels of testosterone can indicate a testosterone deficiency syndrome. This indicates that the body does not have enough testosterone for normal functioning. Low testosterone can result in low production of semen and may increase the risk of infertility.
Symptoms of low levels of Testosterone
The most common symptoms of low levels of testosterone in men are erectile dysfunction and reduced sex drive. Other signs and symptoms of low testosterone may include:
- Hair loss
- Reduced bone mass and increased risk of fractures
- Reduction in testicle size
- Decreased production of semen
- Difficulty sleeping
- Reduced muscle mass
- Decrease in energy levels
- An increase in body fat
- Mood changes like irritability and depression
Symptoms of low testosterone in women may include:
- Low sex drive
- Decrease in bone strength and density
- Difficulty in concentrating and focus
- Mood problems such as depression and anxiety
- Sleep disturbances
- Sluggishness and fatigue
- Fertility problems
- Irregular menstrual cycles
Most commonly, hot flashes are associated with changes in estrogen levels. However, deficiency of testosterone can also cause hot flashes in men.
Causes of low levels of Testosterone
Low levels of testosterone in men is caused by a variety of factors. These include:
- High cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Substance abuse and prolonged steroid use
- Certain prescription medications such as opiates
Health conditions that can lead to decrease in testosterone levels include:
- Hypothalamic or Pituitary tumors
- Injuries, trauma, or other conditions affecting testicles
- Inherited diseases like Kallman’s syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome, Down syndrome, etc.
- Other diseases such as diabetes, liver diseases, or AIDS
- Chemotherapy and radiation
Testosterone levels also decline with age.
Causes of low testosterone in women mainly include:
- Decrease in the testosterone levels as a result of menopause and aging
- Ovarian, pituitary, or adrenal gland problems
- Medications for treating side effects of menopause
Precautions to be taken to maintain normal levels of Testosterone
Dietary and lifestyle changes can help boost testosterone levels or maintain normal levels. Some foods such as salmon, olive oil, oysters, egg yolks, beans, asparagus, pomegranate juice, etc. can boost testosterone levels. This is because they are high in vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin D and zinc which increase testosterone levels.
Elevated testosterone levels can be decreased by foods such as spearmint tea, green tea, mint, nuts, soy, vegetable oil, omega 3 fatty acid fish oil, and flax seeds. Lifestyle changes such as increasing activity levels and consuming healthy diets to reduce body fat can help maintain the normal levels of testosterone.
Certain medications such as opiates, glucocortoid medications such as prednisone, etc. should be avoided as they can decrease the testosterone levels. If these changes are not efficient, testosterone replacement therapy is often suggested to boost testosterone levels.
Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, sleeping for 7-8 hours a night, coffee, vitamin D supplements, and eating nuts and beans, are the most effective ways to maintain testosterone levels. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best treatment for you.
Low levels of testosterone in women are best treated by addressing any underlying medical or mental health issues, not by taking testosterone supplements made for men.
Are there any risks associated with Testosterone test?
There are no major risks associated with this blood test. Minor side effects may include bruising or bleeding at the site of puncture, fainting, pain and soreness at the site of puncture, etc. These side effects are harmless and do not require any treatments.
This test is usually done in the morning. This is because testosterone levels tend to be highest at that time. But you may need to have this test done more than once, and at different times of the day, to confirm low testosterone levels.
What other tests are ordered along with Testosterone test?
Along with testosterone test, a number of diagnostic tests are ordered to determine the exact cause of low or high levels of testosterone. Hormone tests such as total testosterone test, Luteinizing hormone (LH) test, Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) test, are ordered to help find the cause of abnormal testosterone levels.
Blood prolactin test and hemoglobin (Hb) estimation test are also suggested along with testosterone test. Other tests ordered to help with further diagnosis include Estradiol hormone test, HbA1C test for diabetes, Vitamin D estimation, and chromosome tests. Imaging tests such as MRI and bone density tests are also ordered.
Most causes of testosterone imbalance are treatable and early diagnosis and treatment can be helpful in maintaining normal levels of testosterone. Deficiency of testosterone may prompt the doctor to order additional tests to investigate the causes. Treatment depends on the diagnosis and medical history of the patient. It is very important to consult a doctor before starting testosterone replacement therapy or supplements as they may cause certain side effects.