What is a Testosterone test?

Testosterone test is performed to measure the levels of testosterone, a hormone found in both men and women, in the blood. Testosterone is found in two forms in body:

  • Attached to proteins
  • Free testosterone

Laboratory tests either identify total testosterone, including both the testosterone bound to proteins and the unbound or free testosterone in blood, or they are done to determine the level of free testosterone in blood.

An imbalance in testosterone levels in the body affects fertility, growth of genitals and puberty in men. Testosterone levels also affect sex drive, sperm production and muscle mass development in men. Diagnosing fluctuations in testosterone levels helps detect the cause of sexual conditions, such as erectile dysfunction, in men and the development of masculine features in women.

Bioavailable testosterone, serum testosterone, free testosterone and total testosterone are alternative names for this test.

  1. Why is a Testosterone test performed?
  2. How do you prepare for a Testosterone test?
  3. How is a Testosterone test performed?
  4. Testosterone test results and normal range

Testosterone test is performed to diagnose the following conditions:

  • Tumours in testicles
  • Delayed or early puberty in boys
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Irregular periods
  • A reduced sex drive in men
  • Infertility in both women and men
  • Excess growth of body hair in women
  • Development of manly features in women

Doctors typically recommend this test when symptoms indicative of lower testosterone levels are observed in men, which include the following:

  • Hair loss
  • Low sex drive
  • Problems with fertility
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Problems with getting an erection
  • Weak bones
  • Growth of breast tissues

This test is also recommended when symptoms indicative of higher testosterone levels are observed in women, which include the following:

  • Deep voice
  • Excess facial hair
  • Weight gain
  • Oily skin
  • Excess hair growth in all body parts, particularly in  buttocks, moustache area, chest, inner thighs and beard area
  • Irregular periods
  • Acne
  • Reduced breast size
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There are no special preparations needed before undergoing this test.

For this test, a blood sample is taken from a vein in the arm. No risks are associated with testosterone test. However, some people might experience a bruise or slight pain at the site where the needle was inserted to draw blood. Generally, collecting the blood sample in the morning is preferred for a testosterone test.

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Results differ for men, women and boys.

Normal results:

The normal levels (in nanograms per decilitre) of testosterone are as follows:

  • Adult males:
    • 19-49 years old: 249-836 ng/dL
    • 50 years and older: 193-740 ng/dL
  • Adult females:
    • 19-49 years old: 8-48 ng/dL
    • 50 years and older: 2-41 ng/dL

Abnormal results:

  • Higher than normal testosterone levels indicate
    • Cancer of the adrenal glands or testicles in boys
    • Tumour in the adrenal glands, testicles or kidneys in men
    • Tumour in  testicles
    • Early puberty due to an unknown cause in boys
    • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia in children and babies
  • Lower than normal testosterone levels indicate
    • Problems in the testicles due to an injury in boys
    • Problems in the pituitary gland in men
    • Chronic conditions, such as diabetes in men
    • Genetic conditions, such as Prader-Willi syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome and Kallmann syndrome in men, which cause less testosterone production in the body
    • Damage to the testes due to a physical injury, viral diseases or alcoholism in men

Low testosterone levels are common among obese men, men who have been on certain medications for a long time and men above 30 years of age.

  • Higher than normal testosterone levels in women indicate
  • Although testosterone levels are low in women, significantly low levels of testosterone in women indicates Addison disease.

Intake of alcohol and certain medications, might affect test results.

Disclaimer: All results must be clinically correlated with the patient’s complaints to make a complete and accurate diagnosis. The above information is provided from a purely educational perspective and is in no way a substitute for medical advice from a qualified doctor.

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  1. The University of Iowa Department of Pathology LABORATORY SERVICES HANDBOOK: Testosterone, Total
  2. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Testosterone Levels Test
  3. S. Bhasin, G.R. Cunningham, F.J. Hayes, Task Force, Endocrine Society, et al. Testosterone therapy in men with androgen deficiency syndromes: an Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline.. J Clin Endocrinol Metabolism, 6 (2010) 2536–259.
  4. Center for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services, HoSt/VDSCP: Standardization of Measurement Procedures
  5. W. Rosner, R.J. Auchus, R. Azziz, et al. Position statement: Utility, limitations, and pitfalls in measuring testosterone: an Endocrine Society position statement.. J Clin Endocrinol Metabolism, 92 (2007), Pp. 405–413.
  6. Sartorius G, Spasevska S, Idan A, Turner L, Forbes E, Zamojska A, Allan CA, Ly LP, Conway AJ, McLachlan RI, Handelsman DJ. Serum testosterone, dihydrotestosterone and estradiol concentrations in older men self-reporting very good health: the healthy man study.. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2012 Nov;77(5):755-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.2012.04432.
  7. Conway G, Dewailly D, Diamanti-Kandarakis E, Escobar-Morreale HF, Franks S, Gambineri A, Kelestimur F, Macut D, Micic D, Pasquali R, Pfeifer M, Pignatelli D & Pugeat M . B O Yildiz on behalf of the ESE PCOS Special Interest Group. The polycystic ovary syndrome: a positionstatement from the European Society ofEndocrinology. European Jour
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