Testosterone Lab Test

A testosterone level test helps determine the amount of testosterone a male’s body is naturally producing. If an individual is undergoing hormone replacement therapy, this test can also help monitor hormone levels to track the efficacy of hormone supplementation.

Testosterone is a male sex hormone that is crucial to development, especially during puberty. Low testosterone - also known as male hypogonadism - occurs when the testes do not produce enough testosterone, resulting in a hormone deficiency. Low testosterone causes different symptoms, depending on the person and their age.

Low testosterone may be present at birth or develop over years. Genetically male fetuses may experience underdeveloped genitals as a result of low testosterone. Young males with low testosterone may experience delayed puberty or underdevelopment during puberty unless the condition is treated.

Age is a common cause of low testosterone. After the age of 30, a man’s body begins to produce less testosterone. Over time, this leads to a gradual reduction in testosterone levels. Nearly 40% of men over the age of 45 experience low testosterone levels.

Aside from natural aging, other causes of low testosterone include:

  • Injury to the testicles
  • Chemotherapy
  • Pituitary disorders such as a pituitary tumor
  • Klinefelter syndrome (a condition in which a man is born with an extra X chromosome)
  • Kallman’s syndrome (the abnormal development of the hypothalamus gland, which regulates hormone production)
  • Hemochromatosis (too much iron in the blood)
  • Liver failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Inflammatory conditions such as sarcoidosis or tuberculosis
  • Medications such as opioid pain medication or hormone replacement drugs
  • Anabolic steroid use
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol abuse

Testosterone levels may be evaluated for diverse reasons. Your doctor may order a testosterone level test to:

  • Determine the cause of low sex drive in men and women
  • Diagnose infertility in men or women
  • Diagnose erectile dysfunction in men
  • Diagnose early or late puberty in boys
  • Detect warning signs of testicular cancer
  • Determine the cause of excessive body hair or muscle mass in women
  • Diagnose irregular menstrual periods in women

Low testosterone in men may result in symptoms such as:

  • Low sex drive
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Infertility
  • A decrease in muscle mass and strength
  • A decrease in facial/ body hair
  • Osteoporosis (decrease in bone mass)
  • Development of breasts

Excessive levels of testosterone in women may result in symptoms such as:

  • Acne
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Increased facial and body hair
  • Deepened voice
  • Weight gain
No specific preparation is needed for a testosterone level test.

Most blood tests are performed at a primary care office, often as a part of a routine check-up.

During your appointment, your arm will be wrapped in a band to push blood into the veins of the arm. This makes it easier to insert the needle that will be drawing blood from that area. You may feel a slight pinch as the needle is inserted into your arm, but this sensation should pass within a few seconds. The needle draws blood from a vein in your arm, depositing it into a vial or test tube. Some individuals or tests may require multiple tubes to be filled.

After the needed about of blood has been drawn, the needle will be taken out of your arm and the puncture site will be cleaned and bandaged. The blood will then be sent to a lab for testing and analysis.

You will get your results for most tests in 1-3 business days. Depending on the results of your blood test, your health care provider may request follow-up testing to provide a definitive diagnosis of any health conditions or diseases they may detect.

Blood tests are routine procedures that are safe and relatively quick. You may experience some pain - usually described as a pinch - as the needle is inserted into your arm.

After your blood is drawn, the puncture site may be sore or lightly bruised, but these complications are generally minor and will go away within a few days.

If you experience lasting pain or bleeding, or if the puncture site begins to heavily bruise, talk to your doctor.

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