Testosterone is often thought of as “the” male hormone. Many men are concerned about their levels of testosterone and wonder about whether their bodies make enough. A man’s testosterone level enables his development of certain male-specific features, including genitalia, beard/body hair, and distinctly male voice. More importantly, though, the balance of testosterone and other hormones is needed by his brain, muscles, heart, bones, and blood vessels. And a super-manly physique doesn’t guarantee that a man’s testosterone is normal… A guy who can’t grow a beard may also have ideal levels. A blood test is the only way to know for sure.
Testosterone in the Male Body
The pituitary gland starts and then keeps tabs on testosterone production in the body. If levels are low, the properly functioning pituitary secretes Luteinizing Hormone (LH) to make adjustments. LH then travels to the adrenals to spark the production of testosterone. The actual production of testosterone occurs in the testicles.
How Important Is It to a Man’s Health?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) up to four million men have below-normal testosterone levels for their age group. Only about five percent of these men are under a doctor’s care to normalize their circulating testosterone levels. Hormone imbalance, such as too little testosterone, can put a man at risk for serious conditions like sleep apnea.
Testosterone levels are naturally highest in the morning. Individuals with normal to high levels have a forty-five percent lower than normal risk of high blood pressure and seventy-two percent less risk of heart attack. Learn more about testosterone from this Walk-In Labs Infographic.
Lab Test to Test Levels
Regular blood tests to determine testosterone levels are the only reliable means to measure the individual’s testosterone. A doctor or health care provider can order a testosterone hormone panel to check whether a man has enough available hormone for his body’s needs. Other specialist laboratories enable men to order their own testosterone tests simply by walking into the laboratory test center. These walk-in labs are available throughout the country and can help men to keep tabs on testosterone. For instance, some athletic men may want to maximize their testosterone levels for a short time in order to build muscle mass.
Statistically Healthy Levels
Mayo Clinic reports that testosterone production peaks in a man’s teenage to young adult years. The University of Michigan says that, when a boy baby is born, he has approximately thirty nanograms per decileter (ng/dL) of circulating testosterone hormone in this blood stream. By age fifteen, the boy has testosterone levels ranging from eight to more than fifty ng/dL in his bloodstream. By age nineteen, the young man has two hundred to almost a thousand ng/dL of circulating testosterone.
By his thirties, a man has testosterone levels ranging from about three hundred to more than one thousand ng/dL. When he reaches forty to fifty-nine years, his testosterone levels decline to approximately three hundred fifty to nine hundred ng/dL. After sixty years, the number ranges from three hundred fifty to a little over seven hundred ng/dL.
Some men may have too much testosterone. The male body, like the female body, requires hormonal balance. An individual’s medical history is essential to understanding his hormone levels. For instance, alcohol, cigarettes, smoking, and stress can reduce normal testosterone levels. Some diseases or conditions like hepatitis can also lower this hormone. Some steroids taken to increase muscle mass can actually lower a man’s testosterone levels, though estrogen, barbiturates, or seizure drugs can actually raise them!
It’s important to realize that women also have circulating testosterone in their bodies. Too little testosterone in women can depress the natural sex drive so, of course, women should also test their hormone levels.
Photo: Ryan Mannie