What is testosterone?
Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in males. It is produced in the testes and also in the adrenal glands. The secretion starts from the time of puberty that causes the growth of body hair, muscle development, deepening of the voice and other physical changes. It also affects blood pressure levels, obesity and the chance of having heart attacks in some ways. In women, the hormone is generated by the ovaries for regulating some body processes but the quantity is much less.
What happens when testosterone levels are low?
Both men and women can suffer from a lack of testosterone. In males, this can result in low energy, lack of sex drive and infertility. For women, lower levels can result in menstrual problems, infertility, obesity, etc.
The amount of testosterone generated in controlled by the pituitary gland. In most cases, abnormal testosterone levels mean that the hormone level is too low rather than being too high. In males, the hormone levels peak at the age of 20 and generally drops with age. After the age of 30, a 1% decrease in testosterone level per year is not uncommon in some men.
What is a testosterone test?
Most of the testosterone found in the blood is attached to two proteins, namely albumin and sex hormone-binding globulin. A certain amount of testosterone is also left free in the blood. All these three types create the total quantity of bioavailable testosterone that is used by the body as required. So the tests can measure the quantity of total testosterone as well as the free testosterone.
Why do I need to undergo a testosterone test?
Testosterone tests are used to detect the levels of the hormone for both men and women. It is also done when doctors diagnose andropause or late-onset hypogonadism in men. Men with HIV or patients undergoing chemotherapy can also have low levels of the hormone. The following symptoms may indicate lower levels of the hormone in men.
– Fatigue or lack of energy
– Decreased bone density
– Erectile dysfunction or inability to have an orgasm.
– Lack of libido and infertility.
– Depression or lack of concentration accompanied by insomnia
– Loss of muscle mass or decreased body hair accompanied by an increase in body fat levels.
– Aches and pains in joints.
In many cases, high levels of testosterone can also give rise to a variety of problems that need analysis and treatment. Higher levels may be due to the following reasons.
– Hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid.
– Congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
– Tumors in the body.
In some rare cases, individuals may be born with defects listed below that result in a testosterone deficiency.
– Klinefelter syndrome
– Noonan syndrome
– Ambiguous genitalia
In women, the following symptoms may indicate an issue with the hormone.
– Irregular or no menstruation
– Fluctuating blood sugar levels.
– Growth of facial or body hair.
– Thinning of hair on the scalp.
– Development of acne and skin darkening.
– Abnormal weight gain
In women, over-secretion of the hormone can lead to conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome or congenital adrenocortical hyperplasia. In both men and women related to the field of sports, the use of anabolic steroids can lead to higher levels of testosterone. This can lead to various side effects including hypertension, aggression, liver disease, alteration is sexual organs and infertility.
How is a testosterone test performed?
The test is performed by collecting a blood sample from the body. It generally involves the following steps.
– The area from where the blood will be collected is disinfected. It is generally from a vein located near the elbow area.
– Normally an elastic band is tied in the upper arm to make the blood accumulate in the vein to make collection easier.
– A needle is inserted into the vein and blood is drawn through it in a syringe. You might feel a slight prick during the process. Relaxing the arm will help in reducing any discomfort.
– The needle is withdrawn and pressure is applied to the area to prevent bleeding. The spot is finally bandaged.
The test takes around five minutes are no special preparations are required for it. The collection site may remain sore for a few days and chances of infection are rare. In some cases, there might be a hematoma, which is the collection of blood under the skin.
Testosterone levels generally fluctuate during the day though the effect is less pronounced in older men. Since the levels are highest during the morning hours, most doctors recommend that a blood sample for testing is collected between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. Since the levels in the blood are related to a lot of factors, specialists may often recommend multiple tests at different times of the day, along with tests of other hormones associated with testosterone.
What is the price for a testosterone test in India?
The price of the test in India can vary between Rs 400 to Rs 1000 depending on the test center and location.
When will I get the test results?
The results are generally delivered within a day.
What is the normal range for a testosterone test?
The normal levels of the hormone depend on the age and gender of an individual. The results of the test are generally given in picograms per milliliter (pg/mL) or nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). In general, free testosterone levels are considered normal if they are within 0.1 to 0.3 percent of your total testosterone levels. For adult men, the normal levels are listed as under.
– Between ages 19 to 49: 249 – 836 ng/dL
– Between ages 50 and older: 193 – 740 ng/dL
Some researchers have indicated that the healthiest men have their testosterone levels between 400-600 ng/dL.
For adult women, the normal levels are as under
– Between ages 19 to 49: 8 – 48 ng/dL
– Between ages 50 and older: 2 – 41 ng/dL
What do the results mean?
In case your results indicate that the levels of the hormone are higher or lower than normal figures, you might have a condition that is affecting the production. Apart from age-related factors, in some cases, it can also indicate cancer in the testes, the adrenal glands or the ovaries. Lower levels may also indicate a genetic or chronic condition and at times a problem with the pituitary gland.
Addison disease, a disorder of the pituitary gland can affect the balance. In case your results indicate that the levels of the hormone are higher or lower than normal figures, you might have a condition that is affecting the production. Apart from age-related factors, in some cases, it can also indicate cancer in the testes, the adrenal glands or the ovaries. Lower levels may also indicate a genetic or chronic condition and at times a problem with the pituitary gland.
The doctor will analyze the situation and discuss the related issues with you. Injections, patches or topical creams can be prescribed to address low testosterone level issues. Further tests related to 17-hydroxyprogesterone or other hormones secreted by the pituitary gland can be ordered.
In addition, a testicular biopsy or an MRI of the pituitary gland can also be needed. For women androstenedione, prolactin, estrogens LH, FSH, TSH, and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate tests may be required. e of the hormone. In women, higher levels can also indicate a polycystic ovary syndrome which is one of the leading causes of female infertility.
For boys, high levels can indicate an abnormality in the testes or adrenal glands. In some situations, an injury to the testes can also lead to a low level of the hormone.
The doctor will analyze the situation and discuss the related issues with you. Injections, patches or topical creams can be prescribed to address low testosterone level issues. Further tests related to 17-hydroxyprogesterone or other hormones secreted by the pituitary gland can be ordered. In addition, a testicular biopsy or an MRI of the pituitary gland can also be needed. For women androstenedione, prolactin, estrogens LH, FSH, TSH, and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate tests may be required.
Do I need to fast for the testosterone test?
Fasting is not needed for a testosterone test.
What else do I need to know before I appear for a testosterone test?
The following points may be kept in mind before undergoing a testosterone test:
– Certain drugs related to androgen therapy and others like anticonvulsants, barbiturates, and steroids can affect testosterone levels. It is important to share with your doctor all the medications you are taking before the test.
– Consumption of alcohol can affect the test results so consult with your doctor about the same.
– Analyzing testosterone levels are often tricky as it is closely bound with the levels of the protein called sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) in the blood. So it is best to work with an expert who understands the complexities involved and interprets the results correctly based on the symptoms.
– In case testosterone therapy is suggested to you, discuss the details with the doctor and the chances of any side effects that may arise. Some doctors do not recommend testosterone therapy for patients with active prostate cancer.
Can pregnant women undergo a testosterone test?
Pregnant women can undergo this test as it is safe and free from complications.
Is testosterone test possible for new-born babies?
The test is possible for new-borns as recommended by doctors, even though it is seldom necessary.
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