Testosterone is an androgen or key male sex hormone that is responsible for the development of secondary sexual characteristics in males. It is produced by both males & females & plays a role in puberty & fertility. In males it is produced by the leydig cells of the testes. In females it is mostly produced by the ovaries but in very less amounts. In males testosterone is produced in higher amounts & apart from sexual desire it is also responsible for increasing muscle bulk, bone mass, physical strength & body hair. In women it is important for a healthy reproductive system & sexual arousal.
How Do I Test My Testosterone Level?
You can test your testosterone level by getting a serum testosterone test. A testosterone level tests helps in determining the amount of testosterone in the blood measured in nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). It is also known as a serum testosterone test.
The level of testosterone is affected by a number of drugs & before undergoing a test for testosterone levels your doctor will advise you to stop using these medications. It is also important to tell your doctor about all the over the counter & prescription drugs that you might be taking to get better test results. Medications that can affect the results of this test are androgen therapy drugs, steroids, anticonvulsants drugs, barbiturates, clomiphene & estrogen therapy drugs.
Testosterone level test is usually done early in the morning since the levels of testosterone are highest in the morning. Repeat tests might be done during the day to look for any hormonal changes throughout the day. For the testosterone test a blood sample is required & then sent to laboratory for testing.
The results will reveal the level of testosterone in your blood. The normal range of testosterone in your blood is around 300 to 800 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). Any levels below 300 are considered to be low for testosterone. The result is then followed by finding out the cause of decreasing levels of testosterone. The treatment plan is devised according to the presence of underlying condition.
Why Is A Testosterone Level Test Required?
In adolescent age group children it is required when there is delayed or early puberty. Your doctor can also order these tests when he suspects low hormone levels. In adults males when low levels of testosterone are present it is known as hypogonadism. The symptoms of hypogonadism are decreased body hair/facial hair, a low sex drive, complete loss of libido or impotence, osteoporosis, tender breasts, depression, hot flushes, weight gain, severe fatigue, anemia, erectile dysfunction, decreased muscle mass & gynecomastia (growth of breast tissue in males).
The low testosterone levels can be due to multiple reasons such as delayed puberty, damage to testicles, which can be due to trauma, alcohol abuse or mumps in childhood, hypothalamic condition, pituitary disorders & non- cancerous pituitary tumor. Some genetic diseases like klinefelter’s syndrome, kallmann’s syndrome & myotonic dystrophy can all lead to lowering of testosterone levels in males.
In females’ excess production of testosterone can lead to irregularity in periods, infertility, development of facial & body hair & a deepened voice. The presence of these symptoms can be an indication of high testosterone levels in females. They are caused due to PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), ovarian cancer or tumor, adrenal tumors & congenital adrenocortical hyperplasia. In males when there is excess production of testosterone it is due to early or precocious puberty, hyperactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), use of anabolic steroids, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, androgen insensitivity syndrome, testicular tumors & adrenal tumors.
Management Of Low Testosterone Levels
Testosterone therapy is widely being used nowadays. It can be given either via injections; patches that can be applied inside the mouth or pellets that are inserted under the skin of the buttocks, patches or gels that can be applied to the skin. Losing weight & being physically active can also help in boosting your levels of testosterone. Erectile dysfunction is treated with medications & sleep disorders are treated accordingly. A continuous low dose of testosterone is beneficial in the long run.
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