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A testosterone test checks the level of this male hormone (androgen) in the blood. Testosterone affects sexual features and development. In men, it is made in large amounts by the testicles. In both men and women, testosterone is made in small amounts by the adrenal glands; and, in women, by the ovaries.
The pituitary gland controls the level of testosterone in the body. When the testosterone level is low, the pituitary gland releases a hormone called luteinizing hormone (LH). This hormone tells the testicles to make more testosterone.
Before puberty, the testosterone level in boys is normally low. Testosterone increases during puberty. This causes boys to develop a deeper voice, get bigger muscles, make sperm, and get facial and body hair. The level of testosterone is the highest around age 40, then gradually becomes less in older men.
In women, the ovaries account for half of the testosterone in the body. Women have a much smaller amount of testosterone in their bodies compared to men. But testosterone plays an important role throughout the body in both men and women. It affects the brain, bone and muscle mass, fat distribution, the vascular system, energy levels, genital tissues, and sexual functioning.
Most of the testosterone in the blood is bound to a protein called sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). Testosterone that is not bound ("free" testosterone) may be checked if a man or a woman is having sexual problems. Free testosterone also may be tested for a person who has a condition that can change SHBG levels, such as hyperthyroidism or some types of kidney diseases.
Total testosterone levels vary throughout the day. They are usually highest in the morning and lowest in the evening.
A testosterone test is done to:
You do not need to do anything before you have this test. Your doctor may want you to do a morning blood test because testosterone levels are highest between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m.
The health professional taking a sample of blood will:
The blood sample is taken from a vein in your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight. You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch.
There is very little chance of a problem from having a blood sample taken from a vein.
A testosterone test checks the level of this male hormone (androgen) in the blood.
The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.
Your doctor will have your test results in a few days.
270–1070 ng/dL (9–38 nmol/L)
15–70 ng/dL (0.52–2.4 nmol/L)
Children (depends on sex and age at puberty)
2–20 ng/dL or 0.07–0.7 nmol/L
The testosterone level for a postmenopausal woman is about half the normal level for a healthy, non-pregnant woman. And a pregnant woman will have 3 to 4 times the amount of testosterone compared to a healthy, non-pregnant woman.
50–210 pg/mL (174–729 pmol/L)
1.0–8.5 pg/mL (3.5–29.5 pmol/L)
Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
To learn more, see:
CitationsFischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.Other Works ConsultedChernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
Current as of: March 31, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineBrian D. O'Brien MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineAlan C. Dalkin MD - Endocrinology
Current as of: March 31, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Brian D. O'Brien MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Alan C. Dalkin MD - Endocrinology
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