What is a testosterone blood test?
For women, testosterone can play an important role in the reproductive system and their menstrual cycle. In men, testosterone is the main sex hormone. Controlling the adult male’s sex drive, it is also responsible for protecting muscle mass and it helps in the production of sperm. During male puberty, it is testosterone that kick starts the growth of body hair, muscle development and deepens the voice.
There are two types of testosterones in the body. Testosterone in your blood is mostly attached to proteins. The testosterone that is not attached to proteins in the blood is called free testosterone. A total testosterone test measures both the attached and free testosterone, while a free testosterone blood test measures only the levels of free testosterone.
What could a testosterone blood test show?
In men, a testosterone level blood test can be used to look for erectile dysfunction and testicular tumours. It can identify either early or delayed puberty in boys. In women, a testosterone blood test can support diagnosis of irregular menstruation, alongside excess growth in body hair or the development of masculine features in women. For both men and women, testosterone blood testing can help identify decreased sex drive and infertility.
Men tend to need a testosterone blood test if they are experiencing the symptoms of low levels of testosterone. These can include fertility issues, hair loss, weak bones or loss of muscle mass, low sex drive (libido), erectile dysfunction or the development of breast tissue.
Women may need a testosterone blood test if they are experiencing the symptoms of high levels of testosterone. These can include a deepening of the voice, irregularities around menstruation, acne, weight gain or excess growth of body and facial hair.
In boys, low testosterone can be an indication of delayed puberty, while higher levels of testosterone are associated with early puberty.
What Can Testosterone Blood Test Results show?
Raised levels of testosterone may indicate an underlying health issue with the testicles or the adrenal glands, which are situated above the kidneys and help control heart rate and blood pressure among other bodily functions. Lower levels of testosterone could indicate genetic disease, a chronic disease or maybe an issue with the pituitary gland, the small organ that sits at the base of the brain and controls certain functions, such as growth and fertility.
High levels of testosterone can be an indication of the hormone disorder, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS can make it hard to get pregnant and interfere with menstruation. Excess testosterone could also indicate cancer of the ovaries or adrenal glands. Reduced testosterone levels are more normal but could also be an indication of the disorder of the pituitary gland, Addison disease.
Lifestyle and testosterone
Your GP or health professional will work with you to treat abnormal levels of testosterone. A common treatment for low testosterone is testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). This can be given as an injection, a topical gel for the skin that puts testosterone directly into your skin or a hormone patch. You may also be encouraged to make lifestyle changes to help balance testosterone levels, such as building muscle or healthy weight loss.
Testing for Testosterone levels
The test can be performed using a small amount of blood from a finger prick which you can do yourself.
How often should I have a testosterone blood test?
If you are taking testosterone therapy (TT) and are stable a testosterone blood test is recommended every 6-12 months.
If you are trying to increase/decrease your testosterone levels naturally then a test every 6 months is recommended.
If you experiencing any of these symptoms it may be due to your testosterone levels
- Decreased or low sex drive
- Inability to achieve an erection (erectile dysfunction)
- Inability to conceive a child
- Overall tiredness
- Decreased sense of well-being
- Depressed mood
- Difficulties with concentration and memory
- Moodiness and irritability
- Loss of muscular strength
- Weak bones
- Development of breast tissue
This blood test is to check on:
For best results (if medically suitable) it is advisable to fast (water is allowed) 12 hours prior to the test which needs to be taken first thing in the morning and posted on the same day on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday.
Collection method: Finger prick
Results available: 2-3 days after the sample has reached the laboratory.
Testosterone is the primary sex hormone and anabolic steroid in males. It plays a major role in the reproductive tissues such as the prostate and testes. In women it is produced in the ovaries in small amounts and aids the reproductive system.