How to Recognize Low Testosterone (Even If You’re Not a Doctor)
Recognize low testosterone levels even if you’re not a doctor with home test kits and maximize your fitness success without the unnecessary pain.
These would then be crystal clear testosterone deficiency symptoms:
“Your father at 70 has three times the testosterone you did at 34.”
If your doctor tells you the same thing I did, the matter is scratched.
And what if “accidentally” no blood test is due?
You risk getting caught in a downward spiral if you don’t know or ignore the testosterone deficiency symptoms.
Even if you rotate like in a hamster wheel.
You can minimize this risk if you invest 5 minutes and read on now.
This is Part 2 in the Series on Testosterone. For best results, be sure to read the other articles as well.
Note: I have carefully researched the information in this article and made it as understandable as possible.
The topic of hormones is complex – so I recommend you always consult a specialist if you suspect a testosterone deficiency.
If you are an endocrinologist and have additions to this article, I look forward to your comments.
What is Testosterone Deficiency?
Your body typically ensures that each hormone is present in the blood at a certain minimum or maximum level.
Leaving this normal range can have serious consequences (see Testosterone Deficiency Symptoms section).
If your testosterone level is below a certain minimum value, you suffer from testosterone deficiency symptoms.
If a testosterone deficiency is diagnosed, your doctor will recommend measures.
Depending on the cause.
If your testosterone level is within the normal range, your doctor may say, “You’re OK. You have normal testosterone levels.”
It’s worth taking a second look here: If you’re in the lower normal range for your age and gender, you shouldn’t be satisfied with that.
Then there’s something else.
Terms: total testosterone and free testosterone
Different normal values apply depending on age and gender: women produce and need about ten times less testosterone than men.
The female body reacts more sensitively to the hormone.
As you age, your body produces less testosterone.
Free and bound testosterone circulates in your body. Only in its unbound, free form can testosterone enter cells, activate receptors, and thus exert its effect.
Free testosterone is the hormone in its purest form – the crack of testosterone.
With a blood test, you can have two values determined: free testosterone and total testosterone.
Total testosterone is the sum of free and bound testosterone.
However, free testosterone accounts for only a negligibly small proportion (about 2-3%) compared to bound testosterone. The value is so small that it is difficult to determine precisely.
Many studies are therefore carried out based on the less meaningful total testosterone.
What testosterone level should you have?
If your testosterone level is within the normal range, your doctor should say goodbye to you with a beaming smile:
“Everything is fine!”
It may be that your body runs on “Eco” instead of “Sport.” Standard does not have to mean optimal.
What would normal mean, and how much testosterone be optimal?
Before we clear that up, one thing is important to me:
The idea is that you are giving your body a tailwind and clearing the way to unleash the potential in your genes.
The idea is not to reprogram the engine with doping or artificial hormones, so it chronically overrevs unless your doctor recommends it.
How much testosterone is ‘normal’?
The following testosterone levels are considered “normal.” Depending on the measurement method and laboratory, the values may vary slightly.
Average values for total testosterone (µg/l):
- Women (>18 years): 0.15-0.55
- Men (>18 years): 3.5-9.0
Normal values of free testosterone (pg/ml):
- Females (18-39 years): <2.57
- Women (40-59 years): <2.03
- Women (60-80 years): <1.55
- Men (18-39 years): 8.8 – 27.0
- Men (40-59 years): 7.2 – 23.0
- Men (60-80 years): 5.6 – 19.0
Instead of free testosterone, you can also have the free androgen index determined.
Here it is a good idea if you decide on the variant your doctor recommends and with which he has had the most experience.
Free androgen index reference values (ng/dl):
- Females (all ages): < 5.5
- Men (21-30 years): 36-155
- Men (31-40 years): 31-116
- Men (41-50 years): 21-69
- Men (51-60 years): 13-61
- Men (>70 years): 7-45
If the free androgen index in men is below 30 ng/dl, noticeable deficiency symptoms usually appear.
With the help of these comparative values, you can assess whether you have a “normal” testosterone level.
So far, so good. The exciting question is: Is your metabolism already running perfectly, or is there still room for improvement?
Recognize low testosterone: How much testosterone is ‘optimal’?
Good question. Answer: “It depends.”
Everyone who looks good naked looks different. The principle also applies to your hormone profile.
Some already feel and look great with an average free testosterone level, while for others, the engine only fires on all cylinders in the upper third.
So far, there is no universal limit below which testosterone deficiency symptoms appear.
There are anecdotal reports that many men experience testosterone deficiency symptoms once their total testosterone drops below 4 µg/L.
This assessment is purely based on experience and does not meet any scientific standards, so it is only suitable as a further orientation.
It’s probably a good idea if you’re a man aiming for a total testosterone level above 5 µg/l.
The equivalent for women would then be above 0.25 µg/l – I don’t have any experience reports for women, so you should also take this value as a very rough estimate.
You can try to advance to the upper end of your age group from these lower limits.
You want to take one point with you:
The “optimal testosterone level” does not necessarily have to be extremely high for you.
Just as the perfect diet looks a little different for everyone, you can do a few feedback loops, experiment, and embark on the adventure of getting to know your body better and better.
Too high a testosterone value outside the normal range also harms health.
But you only need to worry about this if you have undergone hormone replacement therapy.
In the next section, you will find out what is important when measuring your testosterone level.
Key Facts – What is Testosterone Deficiency
Testosterone deficiency occurs when your testosterone level is lower than the normal value for your profile, and testosterone deficiency symptoms occur. The most meaningful is the free testosterone or the free androgen index.
There is no universal optimal value for testosterone.
Men can presumably aim for a total testosterone level above 5 µg/L (women: 0.25 µg/L) and, by natural means, try to reach levels in their upper age bracket (both total and free testosterone).
Testosterone deficiency symptoms: How you recognize too little “T.”
If you see your body as an instrument, then testosterone is the tuning fork that affects tone and melody.
Testosterone affects whether you play your life tune in major or minor, piano or forte.
Many people think low testosterone is a male issue. But it is also an issue for women, as Melinda’s comment in an email about the first article in this series shows, for example.
“Women don’t immediately think that the testosterone level is too low. My gynecologist brought me up on it. Because of my symptoms, I didn’t give up on the annual check-up.
However, I can only recommend taking the result with you and researching it. Especially if you suffer from the related symptoms and the doctor cannot find an explanation.
For example, it’s weight gain despite sport, a healthy diet, and a drop in performance during sport.
I now have an appointment with the endocrinologist for a thyroid and hormone check.”
There are other possible testosterone deficiency symptoms in men and women – you can read the compilation below.
You should be aware that the symptoms are relatively non-specific: they may be due to causes other than testosterone deficiency.
It is therefore important that you first confirm a suspicion with a blood test and get advice from a specialist – more on this in the next section.
Testosterone deficiency symptoms in men
The following testosterone deficiency symptoms are typical in adult men.
- muscle breakdown
- Increasing body fat percentage (especially on the stomach)
- Decreased libido
- erection problems
- reduction in the driving force
- sleep disorders
- impaired glucose tolerance
- hair loss
- bone loss (osteoporosis)
- Male boobs (gynecomastia)
Testosterone deficiency symptoms in women
In adult women, the following testosterone deficiency symptoms can occur:
- Increasing body fat percentage
- hot flashes
- depression and irritability
- Loss of sex drive
- Inability to orgasm
- sleep disorders
- muscle breakdown
- bone loss (osteoporosis)
Key Facts – Testosterone Deficiency Symptoms (Man and Woman)
Testosterone deficiency symptoms are similar in men and women:
- Bone and muscle wasting
- Depression and irritability
- A lack of sex drive
- Increased body fat percentage
Since the symptoms can not only arise with a testosterone deficiency, you should always confirm a suspicion with a blood analysis from a specialist and get advice there.
How to measure your testosterone levels
Are you suspicious because several of the above testosterone deficiency symptoms sound familiar?
Or do you want to know how much testosterone your body produces?
Then you should measure your testosterone levels.
There are two ways to do this:
- with a saliva sample,
- or with a blood test.
Both options have their advantages and disadvantages. The saliva test has the advantage of being very simple and convenient.
If you want to measure your testosterone level quickly and easily, I recommend the saliva test.
Performing the saliva test is super easy.
You put saliva in three tubes and send them back to the lab.
You will then receive the results within 5 to 7 working days.
The saliva test should meet the same medical requirements as the blood test at the doctor’s.
This applies to laboratory tests accredited by the FDA. You can usually find out whether a laboratory is certified on its website.
If not, a request by email will help.
We use the kits from the accredited laboratory – LetsGet Checked.
Another reliable way to measure your testosterone levels is with a blood test.
A blood test is very accurate but also means more work for you. How to measure your testosterone levels with a blood test:
- Go to a qualified specialist: An endocrinologist is the correct address for men. Women can also consult a gynecologist. Some doctors specialize in both disciplines.
- Have your blood drawn in the morning: tell your doctor in the preliminary consultation that you would like to have both total and free testosterone (or the free androgen index) determined. The nurse will take some blood samples. This takes a maximum of 2 minutes. Because your testosterone levels are highest in the morning, you should make an appointment between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m.
- Take three measurements in a row (optional): A single measurement is inaccurate because your body releases testosterone in spurts. Several measurements at intervals of approx. 20-30 minutes provide a much more precise picture. If you shy away from the associated higher costs, you can also take this step if a testosterone deficiency is diagnosed during the first measurement.
- Look at your results: Ask your doctor to arrange the laboratory test to send the results directly to your home. The laboratory usually needs 2-3 days for the evaluation.
If you have a saliva or blood test done, I recommend that you have your complete hormone profile examined immediately.
Depending on what comes out of your test result:
- If You Want to Optimize – Take Actions to Boost Your Testosterone Levels: If there’s still room for improvement (see What Is Testosterone Deficiency? section), now’s the time to attack and take action. In addition to the necessary consultation with your specialist, the measures in part 4 of this series of articles will help you.
- If you want to optimize – remeasure: To be sure that the measures also had an effect, you should measure your testosterone level again 90 days after your first examination. You should feel the effects much earlier.
Key Facts – Measure testosterone levels
If you suspect a testosterone deficiency or believe “there’s still something going on!” you should proceed according to the principle “measure – act – measure.”
The correct blood test is done in the morning when testosterone levels are at their highest and may be repeated twice to even out fluctuations.
Recognize Low Testosterone – Conclusion
From a medical point of view, you suffer from a testosterone deficiency if your testosterone level is below a specific average value and symptoms appear.
Common testosterone deficiency symptoms include exhaustion, lack of sex drive, muscle breakdown, or an increasing body fat percentage.
If you think your testosterone levels are too low, a blood test by a specialist is a good idea.
Some factors can falsify the measurement. You should therefore know and consider the 6 steps mentioned above when measuring to get the most meaningful result possible.
Even if you don’t suffer from a testosterone deficiency, it could be that “there’s still something going on.”
If you want to take your testosterone levels from “normal” to “excellent” and reach your full potential, the procedure is similar: measure – optimize – measure.
The idea here is that you are giving your body a tailwind and clearing the way so you can reach your full genetic potential.
The idea is not to reprogram the engine with doping or artificial hormones, so it chronically overrevs unless your doctor recommends hormone replacement therapy.
In the next article in this series, you will learn what causes a testosterone deficiency can have and how you can increase your testosterone level through natural measures.
Testosterone Article Series: All About the Testosterone
Article 2: Muscle Building And Hormones
Article 3: How to Recognize Low Testosterone (Even If You’re Not a Doctor) (this article)