Testosterone is a very important hormone. Both men and women who have low testosterone can experience issues like low energy, depression, reduced sex drive, and infertility. Men who have high testosterone may also experience changes in their mood and sex drive, and they may also suffer from issues like high blood pressure and heart problems. Women with high testosterone may find their bodies changing, with issues like a deeper voice and growth of facial and body hair. Having optimal testosterone levels, not too high or too low, helps to keep you healthy and feeling your best.
Since testosterone can cause problems if it’s too low or too high, many people start to wonder, “How much testosterone do I have?” What are healthy testosterone levels? How can you know if your testosterone levels are abnormal?
Measuring testosterone is a little more complicated than it might seem. Testosterone is carried in the blood on a protein called sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). Because of this, there are two different types of testosterone level:
Some researchers believe that free testosterone is the more important measurement. When testosterone is bound to SHBG, it’s not able to act on testosterone receptors. Free testosterone is a measure of the testosterone that’s actually available to your body. However, it can be difficult to measure free testosterone levels accurately, and the results may vary more from lab to lab.
There are a few different ways to measure testosterone levels. The most common way is through a blood test. This can be done in a laboratory, where blood is drawn from a vein. It can also be done at home, through a finger prick.
Testosterone levels can also be measured through a saliva test. Some studies have indicated that measuring salivary testosterone is a reliable way to measure testosterone in the blood, while other studies have indicated that it’s not a reliable measurement. If you take a salivary testosterone test and you get an abnormal result, you might want to follow this up with a blood test to be sure.
The levels of testosterone vary throughout the course of a day. In general, the best time to check your testosterone level is first thing in the morning. At this time, the level is more consistent. Your activity levels, stress, and other factors can cause more variations later in the day, so it will be harder to interpret the results if you take the sample in the afternoon or evening.
In addition to all of the other factors, premenopausal women’s testosterone levels vary during their menstrual cycle. In general, a woman needs to test her testosterone during the follicular phase of her cycle. This phase begins when her period begins, and ends when she ovulates – in other words, it’s the first half of your cycle or so.
In men, normal levels for total testosterone in the blood range from about 240 to 1100 ng/dL. However, the normal levels can vary from lab to lab. This is related to the different specific lab procedures used to do the measurement. When you get your test, the lab will also provide a reference range. This lets you know what the range of normal is for that particular lab’s testosterone test. If your measurement is higher or lower, then your result is considered abnormal.
Testosterone levels in women are generally far lower than the levels in men. In women, total testosterone in the blood should be between about 8 and 60 ng/dL. Again, however, it can vary between different labs, and it’s important to check the reference ranges provided by your lab to know what’s a normal testosterone level on their specific test.
The only way to know your testosterone level is to get a test. This can be done by going to your doctor, who will order the test. You will then need to go to a laboratory to have blood drawn for the test.
Another way is to use a home testing kit. This works in much the same way as home STD testing. Your kit is mailed to you. You take the sample at home, which may either be a blood sample collected by a finger prick, or a saliva sample. You then mail the sample back to the lab, which will test it and give you your results online.
Each day, a man in his early adulthood produces about 7mg of testosterone. After 40, this amount will gradually decline by about 1-2% a year. This means that the normal testosterone level for a 50 year old male will be about 10-20% lower than when he was 40, and the normal testosterone level for a 70 year old male will have gone down by about 30-60%. However, the exact timing and the amount of the decline can vary from man to man, which is why testing is important to determine whether you have a healthy level of testosterone.
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