The differences between men and women are varied and are expressed at different levels: physical, mental, psychic. It is at the biological level that the differences may be more pronounced, or at least, more visible.
In a man, characteristics such as the amount of body hair, muscle mass, size and density of bones, amount of fat under the skin, and others are determined by the presence of a hormone called testosterone.
This hormone is produced by both men and women; the difference is that the testicles produce much more, up to 20 times more each day, than what is produced by the ovaries in women.
Testosterone begins its functions even before birth when is fundamental in the development of male sexual organs and other reproductive systems and functions.
It is also essential in the general health of the adult male: it maintains sexual motivation; influences the production of sperm; regulates the activity of the hypothalamus and the adrenal glands; stabilizes the capacity of platelets in the blood; there is evidence that it is necessary for the good order and maintenance of the cardiovascular and immune system. For all this it is important to keep the hormone levels at an appropriate level.
WHAT ARE YOUR LEVELS OF TESTOSTERONE?
Normal levels of the hormone vary according to age and we assume this is for Testosterone testing in adult males. In the womb, testosterone levels are the lowest in the whole life cycle of the male, but they are of vital importance in the appearance and development of the sexual organs and in the masculinization of the brain. Low levels are linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s; high levels may be related to autism.
The highest values occur during puberty, and at first maturity, when physical changes appear and become permanent.
Between 30 and 40 years of age the levels begin to decrease naturally at a rate of 1% per year. This loss is considered normal but several processes and diseases can cause a serious fall with resulting health consequences.
The average values, both in males and females, can be seen in this table suggested by the Mayo Clinic.
Age: T Level (ng/dL): Age: T Level (ng/dL):
0-5 mo. 75-400 0-5 mo. 20-80
6 mos.-9 yrs. < 7-20 6 mos.-9 yrs. < 7-20
10-11 yrs. < 7-130 10-11 yrs. < 7-44
12-13 yrs. < 7-800 12-16 yrs. < 7-75
14 yrs. < 7-1,200
15-16 yrs. 100-1,200
17-18 yrs. 300-1,200 17-18 yrs. 20-75
19+ yrs. 240-950 19+ yrs. 20-75
Avg. adult male 270-1,070 Avg. adult female 15-70
30+ yrs. -1% per year
At maturity, low levels of the hormone can produce important sexual changes, such as:
• Reduction of the sexual impulse.
• Gradual disappearance of spontaneous erections.
• Changes in sleep patterns.
• Loss of muscle mass and strength.
• Decrease in bone density.
• Loss of trust or vital motivations.
These levels, as well as the gradual loss of the amount of the hormone due to aging, can be altered by various conditions such as:
• Ovarian or testes cancer.
• Testicular problems.
• Diseases such as diabetes or renal deficiency.
• Dysfunctions of the glands, such as hypogonadism.
It is vital then to be sure that the hormone levels are appropriate and to take the proper actions if values are found outside the recognized scale.
THE TESTOSTERONE HORMONAL TEST
The safest way to know testosterone levels is through a blood test in a certified medical laboratory or, in a much more convenient way, using one of the innovative kits that can be used at home at an appropriate price.
This last method has become popular in recent years with the appearance of high-tech equipment that promotes an appropriate level of trust and confidence. In the comfort of home, and with one or two small blood samples, one can obtain such important information.
More modern kits, such as Wellnicity, measure levels of several hormones at the same time, such as thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), cortisol, and testosterone. They are made to be easy to operate, include payments to laboratories and personal reports with clinical recommendations.
HOW IS A TESTOSTERONE TEST DONE?
A sample of blood, or saliva, is needed, which is best taken in the morning, between 7:00 and 10:00 am, fasting, when the hormone levels are higher.
Before the test it is better to stop taking certain prescriptions that could artificially alter the hormonal levels, such as barbiturates, anticonvulsants, estrogens, steroids.
In addition to the results of the blood sample there are certain indications that can lead a doctor to perform a physical examination. A loss of facial hair, a decrease in height or an exaggerated weight gain can motivate a doctor to perform a deeper examination.
Personal kits for use at home are based on a small sample of blood taken with a lancet, or on a saliva sample that, according to studies done on more than 1500 men between 20 and 90 years of age, have shown that it is a relatively safe and accurate means of measuring testosterone levels.
After the samples are taken, the saliva in the glass tube provided, and the small blood samples smeared on the special cards, is sent in the package with return address and covered postal payment to a specialized laboratory.
On the way back, the results will be received with the measured levels and clinical reports with the recommendations given by the doctors, including their opinions, feeding plans, and guidelines to regulate life in view of the results.
As we said before, and depending on what the reports recommend, a formal visit to a doctor may be advisable to confirm the results or practice other relevant tests.
No doubt a timely review of testosterone levels can be an important step in maintaining or restoring health.
• Wang, C., Swerdloff, R. S., Iranmanesh, A., Dobs, A., Snyder, P. J., Cunningham, G., … & Berman the Testosterone Gel Study Group, N. (2000). Transdermal testosterone gel improves sexual function, mood, muscle strength, and body composition parameters in hypogonadal men. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 85(8), 2839-2853.
• Christiansen, K. (1998). Behavioural correlates of testosterone. In Testosterone (pp. 107-142). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.
• Nieschlag, E., & Behre, H. M. (1998). Pharmacology and clinical uses of testosterone. In Testosterone (pp. 293-328). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.
• Fritz, K. S., McKean, A. J., Nelson, J. C., & Wilcox, R. B. (2008). Analog-based free testosterone test results linked to total testosterone concentrations, not free testosterone concentrations. Clinical chemistry, 54(3), 512-516.