Testosterone Testing: Everything You Need To Know

Elite HRT

Written by Elite HRT on June 16, 2021

Medically reviewed by

Camille Frecking, Regulatory Affairs Specialist, MEDICAL ADVISOR

Hormones are an essential part of the human body and are very important for ensuring it works in the best way possible. Keeping your hormones in balance should happen naturally, but for some people, their hormone levels can get out of balance and need to be adjusted with the help of their healthcare professional.  

Testing hormone levels is the first part of keeping hormones in check. If you don’t know that your hormones are not in balance then you will not be able to make a change for the better. 

Testosterone testing is an easy test to help understand if your free testosterone levels are in balance or not. They give you your doctor insight into your hormones and can help make a personalized treatment plan so that you can keep them within the proper range. 

Keep reading to learn more about testosterone testing, including when you should get tested, where you can get tested, and what to do if your hormones come back in a less than ideal range. 

When Should You Get Testosterone Testing?

Understanding when you should get testosterone testing is the first hurdle to jump over. Knowing when to get tested can be difficult and there are two main thoughts when it comes to when you should get tested. The most common reason you should get testosterone testing done is if you have reason to believe you have too high or too low levels of testosterone. 

This is usually determined by the symptoms you are experiencing. You may already know the symptoms of testosterone deficiency or overly high testosterone levels, and may ask your doctor specifically for a testosterone test. Or after telling your doctor the symptoms you are experiencing such as a big change in sex drive, they may suggest a testosterone test for you, especially if you have a family history of androgen deficiency, infertility, or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). 

Another reason you should get testosterone testing is if you want to get a baseline for your testosterone levels. Getting regular testosterone testing every few years is not common, however getting a testosterone test every few years can help you to trend your testosterone levels, especially if you’ve experienced low T levels even once before. 

This will allow you to recognize when your levels are starting to decrease and can help you to react promptly instead of waiting until the levels get too low. 

It is always wise to ask your healthcare provider their suggestion on when you should get a testosterone test, but you can use these suggestions to guide you, especially as test kits to do a home test versus going in for sex hormone laboratory tests.

Causes of Low Testosterone

Because many people get testosterone testing due to low levels of testosterone it is important to understand what could be causing low testosterone. While many of these things you are unable to control it is important to recognize what could make you at a higher risk of developing low testosterone levels. One of the most common causes of low testosterone is aging. As men get older their levels of testosterone naturally decrease and can lead to unwanted symptoms. There are also other causes of low testosterone such as trauma to the testicles. Since the testicles are where testosterone is made it can interrupt the process of the production. Also, if there is trauma to the head it could impact testosterone production as well. Because the pituitary gland in the brain signals to the testicles to produce testosterone if the feedback loop is interrupted it could result in low levels of testosterone.

Certain medications, alcohol, chemotherapy, and diseases can also impact the level of testosterone produced. For example, estrogen, opioids, and steroid medications. 

Some people can also be born with genetic defects that can impact their ability to make testosterone. For example, Klinefelter syndrome is when a male is born with XXY chromosomes and results in hypogonadism and low levels of testosterone. 

Signs of Low Testosterone

Detecting the levels of low testosterone early can play a big role in your experience. The earlier you can detect low levels of testosterone the fewer symptoms you will likely have to endure. So, keep an eye out for the following symptoms that could indicate low levels of testosterone. 

The first thing to pay attention to is your mood and desires. Those with low levels of testosterone often have a low libido, depressed mood, a hard time focusing and remembering things, feel tired, may be easily irritated, and feel moody overall. 

Other symptoms could be experienced that are more physical.  For example, you may experience erectile dysfunction, less body hair,  weak bones, more body fat, and an increase in breast tissue. If you notice any of these symptoms of low testosterone you may want to report these to your doctor so you can get a testosterone test completed. 

Types of Testosterone Testing

The most common types of testosterone testing are urine and blood. What testing is the most common type of testosterone testing and is often the most accurate. A blood testosterone test includes getting a small blood sample. Drawing the blood will usually take about 5 to 10 minutes and then you will be off on your way. Most tests can be drawn in the office, but most often occurs in a local diagnostic laboratory. 

Before you get the blood test you will likely need to fast 12 hours before the test so that there are no interferences from the food you eat. To make it easier on you, taking the test in the morning is recommended most often. Testosterone blood testing is a quick and effective tool to determine the level of testosterone in your blood. 

Some testosterone tests may also assess other hormones in the blood as well including estrogen, thyroid hormones, PSA, and more. By getting a holistic view of your hormones and other important factors in your blood it gives your doctor a more holistic view of what is occurring in your body. This will help them to make an informed decision about what exactly is causing your symptoms. 

Where Can You Get Testosterone Testing?

Knowing where to get a testosterone test is part of the experience. There are a few places that you can get a testosterone test but you usually need the approval of a healthcare provider to get one completed. Your primary health care provider is someone that can order a testosterone test for you. After letting them know your symptoms and experience if they think a testosterone test would be helpful for you then they could order one.

Another option is to seek out a hormone replacement therapy clinic like Elite HRT. The first step in many hormone replacement therapy clinics is to get a blood test done so we can order a testosterone test for you as well. When working with an HRT clinic, if the test comes back showing low levels of testosterone, you are already done with the first step in the process of getting started with hormone replacement therapy. This can be very beneficial and make the process more streamlined. 

What If Your Testosterone is High?

If your testosterone is too high it is important to recognize what the cause of the high levels is from. High levels of testosterone in men are not common and usually relate to taking testosterone medications. High levels of testosterone could come from anabolic steroid use or testosterone injections for the use of athletic performance. If this is the case it would be recommended to stop using the testosterone medications or adjust the amount if it is being prescribed by a healthcare provider.

What If Your Testosterone is Low?

Low levels of testosterone are much more common in men and have an option for treatment.  Testosterone replacement therapy or hormone replacement therapy is an option for low levels of testosterone that can be discussed with your doctor. Testosterone replacement therapy uses testosterone medications to increase the levels of the hormone in the body to get it to a level that is in the normal range. Testosterone replacement therapy has many benefits, and it can help to subside the symptoms that are experienced with low testosterone. It can help to reduce the amount of body fat, strengthen bones, improve muscle mass, boost libido, help you think more clearly, and more. Testosterone replacement therapy is not for everyone but may be an option that should be considered carefully with your healthcare team.

Sources

Low Testosterone (Low T): Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Testosterone — What It Does And Doesn’t Do

Low Testosterone: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment