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Testosterone Blood Test Results Explained

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Testosterone (T) is an important hormone involved in promoting physical athleticism, health and sexual performance. When optimized, you feel confident and strong; athletic and energized.

But when your levels drop you quickly begin to feel tired, lethargic and your energy soon disappears. You start to lose muscle and strength and your libido plummets.

You’ve been concerned about your testosterone levels for a while now and decided to get yourself to the doctors for some checks. You’ve had the results back and all you see is a page with a hell of a lot of numbers on; and very little of it makes sense. Even your health professional wasn’t much help.

But there’s no need to panic. In this article we break down all you need to know. If you want to be able to better understand your testosterone blood tests results, read on…

Testosterone and the HPG Axis

To understand what’s ahppening with your blood test results you need to know exactly which hormones do what.

That means a whistle stop tour of your hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis (HPG).

This axis made up of your hypothalamus and pituitary gland – which lie within your brain – and your gonadal or reproductive glands.

Because these are all glands, the HPG axis forms part of your endocrine system.

Your HPG system elaborate integration of brain and reproductive glands functioning to regulate a hormones in your bloodstream.

And within the HPG axis, each hormone has its own specific role in tightly regulating what happens to testosterone.

The primary role of the HPG axis is to control development, reproduction and also ageing.

Here are the main hormones involved… and the ones you need to know about:

  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is released from the hypothalamus and sends signals to the pituitary gland to release its own hormones. It’s a little bit like an alarm clock which nudges the pituitary into action.
  • When stimulated by GnRH, the pituitary gland releases luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). These hormones then enter into the main circulation of the bloodstream. They then travel to the testes and bind to their receptors. This controls the amount of testosterone that is released back into your bloodstream.
  • LH also regulates the enzymatic reaction of cholesterol and allows it to synthesize T in the Leydig cells of the testes. It does this via a conversion to firstly pregnenolone, then Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).

Man doing sit-ups workout to boost testosterone

Key Point: Testosterone is regulated by an elaborate system called the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis.

When is a T Test Ordered?

In reality it could be for a number of reasons.

Because testosterone regulates a number of vital health-related mechanisms you could be asked to undergo testing for quite a few different symptoms.

Here’s why your doctor might ask you to take a test:

Symptoms of low T

  • Fertility, libido or sex drive are less than optimal.
  • Erectile dysfunction or a reduction in testes size.
  • Unexplained loss of muscle mass or strength.
  • Development of gynecomastia (breast tissue) or belly fat.
  • Loss of facial or body hair.
  • Metabolic health concerns such as insulin resistance.
  • Concerns over cardiovascular health.

What Does the Test Involve?

If you or your health practitioner are concerned about your testosterone levels, they’ll order you to take a simple blood test to evaluate what’s going on.

The test is usually performed between 7 am and 10 am because your T levels are at their highest during the morning.

It usually involves a blood sample taken from a vein in your arm. There’s no preparation involved on your part and the test is quick and painless, but may be slightly uncomfortable for some.

If you are on medication that could affect your results you may be asked to reduce or stop taking them until the test is complete.

Once complete, the blood is sent to be tested. A few days or weeks later a transcript is sent back to your doctor outlining each result.

Muscular man with big biceps and shoulders with skipping rope

Tests Explained: What are Normal Values?

When your results come back, your health professional will use them to assess or diagnose a range of conditions. Because T is so important for both long-term health and physical performance, it can give you feedback on a wide number of issues.

The main ones you’re looking for are total and free testosterone.

Testosterone and SHBG

T is tightly regulated. Your body functions when it’s not too low or high.

For that reason there are a lot of feedback mechanisms that aim to keep it at optimal levels. One of those is sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG).

Made by the liver, the main role of SHBG is to distribute sex hormones throughout the body, and make sure T doesn’t get too high. It’s like a security guard that only let’s so many testosterone cells through the door.

Free testosterone

A large percentage of your circulating testosterone is bound by SHBG. And some of it is bound to another protein called albumin.

However, the T bound to albumin can break away from it fairly easy and can then be taken up by the body’s various tissues.

Free testosterone is any T not bound to SHBG and therefore bioavailable.

Normal values for free testosterone vary by age but for a male of 35 years old you’d expect 4.65-18.1 ng.dL and for a 55 year old you’d want to see 3.87-14.7 ng.dL

Total testosterone

Your total testosterone includes free testosterone as well as that bound by SHBG. It is the total amount in the bloodstream, regardless of bioavailability.

This measurement is very common and is usually sufficient for diagnosing low testosterone levels. This is more so the case if a total T test is combined by a FSH and/or LH measurement as well.

Normal values for total testosterone also vary by age but 300-1000 ng.dL are common values for a male that has reached puberty.

Athletic man training in the gym to improve T levels

What Happens If Your T Levels Come Back as Low?

If you fall below the reference value of 300 ng.dL for total or free testosterone you might be diagnosed as being hypogonadal – you have ‘low T’.

This means you run the risk of a number of metabolic, physical and cognitive disorders.

Although you might not suffer all symptoms immediately, it’s important try as best you can to bring your hormone levels back to normal as soon as you can.

Whilst some health professionals still suggest hormone therapy (which can be rife with side effects), you won’t necessarily be given any medication to bring you back up to normal levels though.

Is There a Solution?

Yes there is.

TestoFuel is an entirely natural blend of nutrients that elevate your testosterone levels safely and effectively.

As an exhaustively researched supplement, TestoFuel provides rigorously tested ingredients such as zinc, oyster extract and magnesium – all shown to elevate hormone levels in clinical research studies.

  • Improve strength – enhance speed, force and athleticism
  • Add slabs of muscle – more muscle and better aesthetics
  • More energy – train harder for longer
  • Improve health – reduce the risk of metabolic disorders and cognitive decline