There are different ways to test your testosterone levels:
- You can visit a doctor for physical examination to look for symptoms for low or high testosterone levels.
- You can get the blood test done to check your hormone levels.
- You can use the home test products available in the market to check the testosterone levels, before visiting a doctor. This is of course performed by testing your saliva.
Before we elaborate on it, it is important that we discuss about certain things-
What is testosterone?
Testosterone is an androgenic sex hormone, which is produced in both men and women. It has a lot of functions in the body, which includes puberty, fertility, sexual libido, etc. Testosterone also helps to develop secondary characteristics, such as deepening of voice, hair on chest and so on. Additionally, it helps in building muscle mass and maintaining energy levels.
High and low levels of testosterone often lead to various problems in the body. Although, problems caused due to higher levels of testosterone are very rare in people, the hormonal imbalance is often referred to as the lower levels of testosterone.
What is testosterone test?
The testosterone test helps to measure the amount of testosterone present in the blood. It is otherwise known as a serum testosterone test.
The testosterone test is performed to diagnose low levels or high levels of testosterone.
There are two different ways through which testosterone travels in the body through blood.
- As free moving testosterones, without getting attached to proteins.
- Getting attached to proteins and other androgen receptors.
The testosterone test helps you to find the measures of both free and combined testosterones. This further helps to diagnose the conditions or problems that are caused due to low or high testosterone levels.
The test can help determine the reasons behind the problems in your sexual life, which includes decrease in libido (sexual drive) or Erectile Dysfunction (ED). It also helps to diagnose other problems related to pituitary gland. It is the gland that controls the production of testosterones in the body.
What happens during the Testosterone test?
As you opt for the tests, your doctor shall ask you about the medications that you take regularly. It includes over the counter drugs and prescribed drugs as well. Do understand that certain drugs affect the results of the testosterone tests. Thus, you will be advised by the doctor to stop the consumption of the drugs before taking the test.
1. During physical examination
As you visit your doctor for the testosterone test, it shall first make a physical examination of your body. It looks for symptoms that indicate lower levels of testosterone.
Symptoms for low levels of Testosterone that can be observed physically include:
- Reduced body hair or increasing hair fall.
- Reduced muscle mass.
- Erectile dysfunction.
- Look for the growth of breast tissue.
- Reduced physical energy, strength and aggressiveness.
The symptoms mentioned above are not specific to low testosterone levels, thus, it becomes essential that you take the blood test.
2. Getting the blood test
Your doctor shall mention a specific day for the test. It is a well-known fact that hormonal levels are highest in the morning. Thus, the doctor shall recommend taking the test between 7-10 am.
In cases, if the doctor feels the need to track the T-level changes in a person, it might recommend taking multiple tests. It requires taking the blood sample.
Steps for the blood test
- The blood is generally taken from the veins on your forearm or the back of your hand.The doctor shall clean the area and draw out the blood.
- A syringe with a sterile needle is used to puncture a hole in the veins to draw out blood.
- The blood is collected in a tube and is sent for lab testing.
3. Home test kits
You also have the option of taking the testosterone test on your own, before going to a doctor. There are several testosterone kits available in the market. You can find T-levels test kit that needs your blood sample to determine low, normal or high levels of testosterone.
You can also look for test kits that need your saliva instead of blood, this can help you to check your T –levels at home. Now, the samples for saliva might differ from one kit to another. Once you have collected the sample you will have to mail it to a lab for T-levels testing. The reports shall be provided within few days.
Now, saliva testing has been a point of concern among researchers, whether it is reliable or not. Studies do suggest that salivary testosterone testing is one of the effective non-invasive methods for T-levels testing. Use of sweat, tears and urine is also recommended. But the same study also concludes that blood sample testing is better than saliva testing, as it gives more accurate results.
Note: Considering the speculations revolving around saliva testosterone testing, it is recommended to perform the test using blood sample itself.
What are the normal levels of Testosterone?
In general, the normal level of testosterone varies in both males and females. Men on an average have a testosterone level range of 250-1000ng/dl (nano-grams/deci-liter), whereas in women it ranges between 10-50ng/dl. The testosterone levels can vary significantly with age, specifically in men, thus the normal levels too shall be considered accordingly.
Do remember, that the testosterone levels are at its peak in our 20s and starts declining slowly. Testosterone levels are considered to be imbalanced, when either it increases or decreases from the normal T-levels. For a healthy individual the testosterone levels shall fall in the range between 350-650ng/dl.
Once the test is performed, your doctor shall let you know the results and recommend other tests as well. This is important to find the reasons behind the increasing or decreasing levels of testosterone in the body. It shall offer you solutions too, which includes recommending exercises, medications, testosterone therapy, etc.