What is a testosterone test for, and who needs to schedule for this test?
In this article:
- An Overview of Testosterone
- Testosterone-Related Issues Among Men and Women
- How to Test Testosterone Levels
- Testosterone Replacement Therapy
A Guide on What a Testosterone Test Is and Why You Need It
An Overview of Testosterone
One common misconception about testosterone is that young men and women don’t have to worry about maintaining normal levels of this sex hormone. Some aren’t even aware that women have testosterone in their bodies, as well.
Testosterone is a hormone the human body naturally produces, regardless if you are a male or female. Men source their free testosterone from the testicles whereas females get theirs from the ovaries.
It increases muscle mass, boosts raw strength, regulates one’s mood, stimulates high energy levels, and promotes overall health and well-being.
Testosterone deficiency may lead to symptoms such as erectile dysfunction, sleep apnea, and gynecomastia in men. Meanwhile, women with low testosterone levels may experience decreased libido, fertility complications, fatigue, and insomnia, among others.
Of course, an excessive amount of testosterone also has its repercussions on both males and females.
The overproduction of testosterone often affects sexual development and causes women to develop male characteristics. Men, on the other hand, might find their bodies showing signs of puberty.
Testosterone-Related Issues Among Men and Women
Healthy testosterone levels in men range from 240-950 ng/dL (nanograms per deciliter). Meanwhile, women should have around 8-60 ng/dL.
Your testosterone levels vary based on different factors such as your age, diet, lifestyle, and overall health and well-being. For example, a 50-year-old male smoker is at greater risk of testosterone deficiency than a healthy 20-year-old man that regularly works out.
Even if you do maintain a healthy lifestyle, testosterone production will still slow down as you age. In fact, the testosterone levels in an aging male body decrease by at least 1% every year after he hits 40.
1. Hypogonadism: Low Testosterone Levels
Hypogonadism is a condition where the testicles or ovaries do not produce a sufficient amount of testosterone. It is one of the most common testosterone deficiency diseases both men and women experience.
Some common symptoms include:
- Low libido or sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
- Fertility complications
- Mental instability
- Mood swings
Even if these symptoms are not present, it’s still recommended that one must schedule a testosterone level test as they age.
2. Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia: High Testosterone Levels
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is a genetic disorder where the body produces too much testosterone and not enough of the hormones aldosterone and cortisol. Symptoms are present at birth and affect the sexual development of the infant.
Generally, males diagnosed with CAH have an abnormally large penis. Meanwhile, females may notice an abnormal growth or shape formation in their genitalia.
Other symptoms of CAH among infants are:
- Poor eating habits
- Low blood pressure
- Low sodium level
As the infant diagnosed with CAH grows older, their voice deepens and facial hair grows at a very young age. Some patients may also experience stunted growth.
3. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Too Much Testosterone in Women
Polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS occurs in women with too much of the male sex hormone testosterone. Its most common symptoms include irregular menstrual periods, hirsutism, and fertility issues.
Hirsutism Definition: This is the abnormal growth of hair on a person’s face.
Losing weight also becomes a challenge for patients diagnosed with PCOS. Studies show that 40%-80% of PCOS patients in the United States are overweight or obese.
4. Other Testosterone-Related Issues
In severe cases, too much testosterone in men and women may lead to testicular and ovarian cancer, respectively. On the other hand, low testosterone levels often indicate issues with the pituitary gland.
In infants and children, testosterone level abnormalities are evident when their body parts do not develop properly.
In teenagers, low testosterone levels often lead to delayed puberty. Boys may suffer from poor muscle development and a lack of body hair growth, and girls may face hirsutism and virilization.
Virilization Definition: The development of male physical characteristics in a female body. This includes deepness of voice, facial hair growth, and muscle mass growth.
How to Test Testosterone Levels
Watch out for warning signs and symptoms, such as acne breakouts, insomnia, sexual or erectile dysfunction, low libido, and drastic weight changes. If you notice any of these, do not hesitate to undergo a complete testosterone test.
A testosterone test consists of a regular blood examination. Your health care provider may advise you to take the test in the morning when your testosterone levels are at their peak.
To ensure the results are accurate, patients may have to temporarily discontinue the use of prescription medication, such as:
- Androgen/Estrogen Therapy Treatments
While the testosterone blood test is the most common way of testing testosterone levels to date, you can also assess them through the saliva.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy
The most widely used treatment program for patients suffering from testosterone deficiency is testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). It can come in the form of a topical gel, skin patch, or liquid injected through a syringe.
While this program may be effective, patients shouldn’t self-medicate or opt to take testosterone supplements and drugs themselves. Only take drugs prescribed by medical specialists after they have assessed your condition through a series of lab tests.
Taking the wrong medication can lead to side effects, such as:
- Acne breakouts
- Blood clotting
- Prostate cancer
- Heart attacks
If you’re having trouble finding a testosterone test specialist, reach out to LIV Health. Our telehealth experts can direct you to the right medical professionals.
Overall, maintaining normal levels of the sex hormone testosterone is important for men and women of all ages. Do not assume that issues with testosterone production are limited to older men.
Apart from undergoing regular testosterone level tests, patients should also make an effort to improve their lifestyle. Eat less junk food, stop smoking, reduce alcohol consumption, and exercise more often.
All these combined with regular checkups are what the body needs to maintain healthy testosterone levels.
Do you think taking a testosterone test regularly is necessary? Share your opinion with us in the comments section below!