Testosterone Defines You As A Man
Testosterone is by far the most important male hormone responsible for man’s muscle mass and strength. It puts hair on your chest and makes your bones strong. Testosterone shapes your posture and influences your sexual drive and performance. Finally, testosterone is responsible for male behaviors such as competitive spirit and self-confidence. In short T is what makes us men.
You may ask what are the normal testosterone levels in men? Well, it really depends on their age and health condition. T levels change over our life. They peak in young men in their 20s. After age 30, most men begin to experience a gradual decline in testosterone (approximately 1% less every year).
So relatively speaking, on average normal testosterone levels in men over 40 will be lower than in a man in his 20s but higher entering puberty but higher than normal testosterone level in men over 50.
Low testosterone does not always present symptoms, and some people only learn about it after a routine physical examination with bloodwork.
Total and Free Testosterone Levels
When you get tested two tests can be conducted – for total testosterone and free testosterone,
- Total Testosterone – measures free testosterone and protein-bound testosterone concentration in your blood at the time of the test. It is measured in ng/dl (nanograms per deciliter). This is the most common and recommendable type of test.
- Free Testosterone – amount of free testosterone in your blood measured in picograms per milliliter. This test should be used for patients whose total T test result comes out low (under 350 ng/dL) as well as in obese or older men whose total T may be erroneously low to validate the total testosterone result.
If you do research, the values you usually find are these of total testosterone.
What’s a “Normal” Testosterone Level?
Good question… but there is no simple answer.
Next time when you receive your result from the doctor or technician with the usual “normal reference range” I suggest you have a look at it and… throw it away. It’s useless, very generic and won’t tell you much.
The “normal reference range” consists of results of a wide variety of men who tested with this lab, 80-year-old men and 20-year-old men; obese men and super fit men; men with pituitary gland problems and men with glands that work perfectly.
A typical normal male testosterone level range given is 260 – 1080 ng/dl. Well, to that I can only say that you can call any level you want is normal, but 260 is nothing but very ugly. Actually everything under 350 is still an ugly T level for a male.
When I receive emails from readers struggling with their T levels it’s always with T levels under 400 ng/dl. Interestingly I have never received any email from someone complaining with testosterone levels over 500. I hope you get my point.
So What’s The Optimal Level?
Another great question! The answer is “it depends!”
The optimal Testosterone level for anyone of us can be different. Every man is different, so their level of optimal testosterone will be different, too. For some men, a testosterone level of 600 ng/dl will make them feel great, while other men need to be around 800 ng/dl in order to experience the benefits of optimal T.
However, I do want to give you some guidance. Depending on research symptoms of low T might start appearing in men when their total T drops below 320 ng/dl – 400 ng/dl. Some researchers suggest that the healthiest men have testosterone levels between 500 – 600 ng/d. As a rule of thumb it’s a good idea to stay above 500 ng/dl if you don’t want to experience symptoms of low T no matter if you are 40 or + 50 years old.
Average Testosterone Levels by Age
We can, however try to determine what is the average testosterone range for men at your age. Unfortunately the official lab reference charts don’t show a split by age so please use the table below. Testosterone levels peak in men in their 20’s at 700 ng/dl and decline by 50 ng/dl each decade or approx. 1% per year.
With that said if you’re 35, comparing yourself to a bunch of 80-year-old men isn’t very useful because they likely have really low T levels. As you can see “normal” testosterone levels in men over 40 just as a “normal” testosterone level in men over 50 should remain well over 500 ng/dl.
Avg. Total Testosterone [ng/dl]
Too Much T Is Also Not Good
It’s important to note that too high T is also not good. Beyond certain levels, T can be harmful causing many dangerous side effects such as increased risk of heart attack, stroke, sleep apnea and blood cloths. However, you should be concerned about having too much testosterone only if you’re using testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).
The reason why I encourage people to naturally increase testosterone with changes in their lifestyle, diet, or using natural testosterone boosters is because they elevate T levels only to the healthy levels and not beyond.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of low T such as reduced sexual desire, fewer spontaneous erections, erectile dysfunction, infertility, difficulty concentrating, lack of motivation, reduced muscle bulk and strength, decreased bone density, large breasts in men, depression, fatigue I recommend you get tested.
How to Measure Your Testosterone?
There are three ways to test your testosterone levels: saliva, urine, and blood with each having its pros and cons.
Saliva and Urine Tests
Cons: not highly accurate. If you go to see a doctor they will rather run a blood test.
Pros: more accurate and sensitive than saliva and urine but also more expensive. Blood tests for total testosterone cost from $90 onwards.
Before choosing a test you should know there are different kinds of T blood tests. Some are more accurate than others.
Blood Tests For Total Testosterone
ECLIA (Electrochemiluminescent Immunoassay) – fast and affordable method to measure total testosterone in blood. Used by many labs because it’s simple and automatic.
LC/MS (liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry) – the gold standard method by many researchers in measuring small molecules. It’s more sensitive and usually expensive than ECLIA.
You need to make a decision which one you go with. Rule of thumb: most of the time (unless your T is extremely low) ECLIA will work just fine.
Blood Tests For Free Testosterone
If you are over 60, have obesity problems or expect to have a very low testosterone level (below 350 ng/dl) you should consider using free T tests.
RIA Direct – cheap, fast, but not very accurate. Most labs only use RIA direct because of its cost-effectiveness.
Equilibrium Ultrafiltration – arguably the best and most accurate testing method. Many commercial labs don’t offer the method because it’s time consuming and requires well-trained technicians.
Where Do I Get Tested
You can go and see a doctor or you can order the tests online. I particularly like the second method because it’s faster and cheaper.
Step 1: Order the test
You can order a blood test online. The website will put you in contact with a lab close to your home to draw blood.
Below you can find the two websites I have used in the past. Both are similarly prized and offer a wide range of tests and professional customer service. Personally I usually receive my results by email within 2-3 days.
If you want a more complete screen of your health, a complete hormone & wellness panel could be interesting option. This test screens your overall health: your sex hormones, thyroid gland, adrenal function, metabolic function, cholesterol, and prostate.
Step 2: Go to a local lab
After you pay for your blood test, you’ll get a confirmation email with information which lab you need to visit in your area to have the test done. You will most likely be directed to LabCorp close to your home address.
Step 3: Give a blood sample
A nice nurse will draw some blood samples. It takes a moment. It’s better to get your blood drawn in the morning as your T level is then the highest and only declines through the day.
Step 4: Get your results
In a couple of days you will receive an email with your results
Step 5: Repeat
You should repeat T tests more than once over time. Many things such as stress, lack of sleep, higher alcohol consumption a night before can whack your T levels. It is entirely possible, for example, for your testosterone to be 400 one week and 525 the next.
Lifestyle issues can reduce even normal testosterone 20-30% or more. Especially if you are considering a TRT, you don’t want to make this decision based on a single test.
What to do if your Testosterone results consistently come out low? I encourage you to read this blog. I was there where you may be right now and I boosted my T levels naturally with diet, natural supplements, exercise, and others. One of the ways of curing low testosterone is actually sex.
You will find more information here. Stay optimistic, it is possible to boost your testosterone levels 20-40%, and possibly get them into the normal and acceptable range, simply by changing certain lifestyle factors.
Putting it all together
Our T declines as we age. It’s a normal process, however your lifestyle and diet can slow it down dramatically.
If you are experiencing low T symptoms, get tested. You can easily order tests online and follow the advice above.
Don’t use lab reference numbers to determine if your T is low. They’re not usually accurate. Use the chart I shared above for your specific age range.
If your T level results come out consistently low consider natural ways of boosting testosterone at first before moving to TRT.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Please share your experiences in the comments below. If you have any questions I didn’t answer in this article please ask them below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
All the best,