Testosterone Levels Test

Testosterone levels test: what is it, why do it, and what are the risks?

A testosterone levels test is used to measure the amount of testosterone in the body. Testosterone is a male sex hormone that plays an important role in sexual development, reproductive function, and other body functions.

Specially trained healthcare professionals usually conduct testosterone levels tests. These tests require a blood sample, and the results can provide a great deal of insight into a person's health, particularly in men.

Why have a testosterone levels test?

A doctor may suggest a testosterone levels test if they suspect a person has a problem with their hormone levels. This is especially important in men, as lower than expected levels of testosterone can interfere with normal bodily functioning.

A doctor may ask for a testosterone levels test if a man has:

  • difficulty getting or sustaining an erection
  • signs of a decrease in muscle mass, strength, or endurance
  • a decrease in sex drive or libido
  • a decrease in energy levels
  • changes in mood, cognitive ability, or mental clarity
  • gynecomastia, or an increase in the size of male breast tissue

What are the types of testosterone levels tests?

There are various types of tests for measuring testosterone levels. These tests include:

  • Total Testosterone: This test measures the total amount of testosterone in the sample. It is a useful indicator of actual testosterone production levels.
  • Free Testosterone: While most testosterone is bound to proteins in the blood, a small portion is free, or unbound. Free testosterone is more readily available to cells, and this test is useful for determining if a person has a true deficiency in free testosterone.
  • Bioavailable Testosterone: This test uses the same components as a free testosterone test, but it adds an additional measure of testosterone that is not available to be used by cells. This test is used to get a more accurate measure of testosterone levels in the body.
  • Luteinizing Hormone (LH) Test: Increases in LH hormones indicate that the body is responding to a decrease in testosterone levels.

How is the testosterone levels test performed?

Testosterone levels tests are typically performed by a healthcare professional in a clinic or doctor's office. The person being tested will be asked to provide a blood sample, which will be sent to a laboratory for analysis.

The results of the test will usually be available in 1–2 days. A doctor will review the results and will discuss the findings with the person.

Are there any risks associated with a testosterone levels test?

There are minimal risks associated with a testosterone levels test, as the sample required is only a small amount of blood. The person's arm or hand may feel slightly uncomfortable after it is drawn and tested.

When should a doctor review the results?

If a doctor suspects a problem with a person's testosterone levels, they may recommend that the person has a testosterone levels test. A doctor should review the results of any tests performed to assess the underlying cause behind any symptoms and make an appropriate treatment plan.