Testosterone Test Results — What They Mean (and What to Do About Them)
One of the most important things you can do with respect to your hormone is to get your hormone levels tested — having your testosterone test results in hand (regardless of what they say) is the first step towards feeling better.
Not knowing is much worse.
While some of our patients are pleasantly surprised by their results, negative or positive results do something very important:
They clear up confusion.
Finally discovering that your testosterone is low (as you’ve probably been suspecting for a while) can be wonderfully freeing — now you know what the problem is.
And even if you find out that your levels are normal, it means you can check a possible culprit off the list.
You can finally move on to another possible cause.
Testosterone Test Results — What’s Normal and What’s Abnormal?
I know you’ve probably done your research (that’s why you’re here). You may actually have your testosterone test results in hand.
Maybe you’re not sure what they mean.
Let’s talk about that.
If you’re a man, the normal range of total testosterone is 300–1000 ng/dl.
(There is variance from analyzer to analyzer and lab to lab, but this is a generally accepted reference range.)
Your range for calculated free testosterone is 9–30 ng/dl.
(Direct free testosterone values are not useful clinically and should be ignored.)
For women, the range begins much lower. After all, your body only produces about 1/10th the amount of testosterone of a man’s body. Your free testosterone levels should fall between 0.3–1.9 ng/dl.
Your total testosterone levels have a range of 15–70 ng/dl.
Once you start to fall outside this range, either on the top or the bottom, you’re entering abnormal territory.
I used that phrase, “abnormal territory,” for a reason — there’s not a clear line dividing what’s abnormal from what’s normal. It’s more like the change between different climates as you drive across a country. You don’t suddenly end up in the desert as you drive out of the mountains — the change is gradual, and there’s a great deal of overlap.
These are average ranges based on testing of many individuals — it doesn’t mean that you’re abnormal just because your free testosterone is 8.9 or 0.28.
What really matters is how you’re feeling — your symptoms. If you’re experiencing symptoms, it doesn’t matter what your testosterone test results are — something is wrong, and we need to figure out what that something is.
Your Test Results Could Be Wrong — Make Sure You Get a Second Opinion
Here’s something that applies more to women than to men (though it’s still good advice for everyone).
Get a second opinion. Don’t rely on a single set of testosterone test results — it’s often the case that medical providers give patients the wrong test, at the wrong time, and with the wrong interpretation (especially those who don’t specialize in or aren’t familiar with testosterone replacement therapy).
We see women regularly who are diagnosed with high testosterone when they actually have low testosterone (crazy, I know, but there’s a good reason why this happens).
For men, things are more straightforward — but it’s still a good idea to get additional testing — looking at your calculated free testosterone test is of paramount importance for both diagnosis and treatment