The testosterone hormone (T) is mainly linked with masculinity, but the female body too makes testosterone in very minimal amount. However, too much or too little testosterone in men or women may be a sign of serious health conditions. Testosterone is mainly responsible for characteristics like body hair, muscle mass, endurance, sexual desire, and mood. In males, it is produced by the testicles, while in females, the ovaries make a small amount of testosterone.
Testosterone tests are done to determine the amount of testosterone in the blood sample. Most of them are attached to proteins in the blood, but some travel freely. There are two types of testosterones to be measured - Total testosterone is the testosterone attached both to proteins and free and Free testosterone is not attached to proteins and can be exactly measured when ruling out certain health conditions.
Knowing About Testosterone Levels
A normal range for testosterone level in males is about 300 to 800 ng/dL and for females it’s 15 to 70 ng/dl. The levels of this hormone can vary remarkably throughout the life cycle. While testosterone levels naturally decrease as you age or due to medical conditions.
In men after 30 years of age, testosterone levels decrease on an average of 1% to 2% per year. Hypogonadism also called low testosterone is a common problem in males. Common symptoms associated with low testosterone levels include:
- Reduced sexual drive
- Erectile Dysfunction
High Testosterone Symptoms In Females
Females with high testosterone may have facial hair growth, acne, develop a hoarser voice or feel decreased breast size. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the possible causes of high testosterone levels in females making it difficult to conceive and interfering with normal menstrual cycle.
High T levels indicate ovarian or testicular cancer, whereas low T levels can indicate chronic diseases or pituitary gland problems.
Usually, testosterone tests are performed for young males and females whose growth and development are impaired or when puberty is delayed. Young males with low T may grow slowly with poorly developed muscles and no body hair. While those with high T may enter puberty early and robustly. And young females with high T may have delayed menstruation or too much body hair.
How Is Test Performed?
A testosterone test is usually done in the morning when T levels are highest, at times tests need to be repeated to confirm values. You would be instructed by your physician to stop taking any prescription medications that could interfere with results. Some medications that can artificially up the levels include:
- Androgen or estrogen therapies
If the results are low, discuss with a doctor to confirm the results and the best ways to address the issue. Even if the results are within normal range, but you are experiencing symptoms, talk with your doctor as it may be a sign of an underlying condition. In such cases, the doctor may perform a physical genitourinary examination to rule out any possible causes.
What Do Testosterone Test Results Mean?
Low test results mean ageing, or it could also be due to underlying conditions such as:
- Chronic diseases
- Use of certain medications
- Genetic conditions
High testosterone results could be a sign of:
- Possible tumours
- Early puberty in young males
- CAH in children and babies