Low testosterone is a problem that can affect both men and women. Testosterone levels are measured by a simple blood test, but they must be interpreted by a specialist since tests may superficially appear normal while the testosterone level is still low.
Low testosterone must be diagnosed by a medical professional. Many diseases and conditions may share symptoms and a medical professional who specializes in low testosterone will be able to identify the issue and create a treatment protocol. The doctor will interpret medical test results in conjunction with physical symptoms. Symptoms of low testosterone include low sex drive and impotence, fatigue or decreased energy, loss of muscle mass and strength, fat accumulation, depressed mood, increased risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Low Male Testosterone
There remains significant controversy as to how best to measure testosterone levels. It is well accepted that if total testosterone is less than 200 ng/dl, a man will be considered as having a low testosterone level. If his total testosterone is greater than 600 ng/dl, a low testosterone level may be ruled out.
The analog-free testosterone method is the most commonly used in the United States by most large commercial labs, but it is not considered a very accurate way of measuring testosterone. At this point in time, it appears that the most effective measurement of androgen status is either "free testosterone" or "bioavailable testosterone." However, these can be measured in different ways and may only be available through specialty laboratories. Blood work should be done in the morning before ten o'clock to capture the potential peak values.
Low Female Testosterone
The medical community has only begun treating women with testosterone therapy fairly recently and there is little research available. Therefore, there is little agreement about "normal" testosterone levels. If a woman goes to a general physician and is told that her testosterone levels are "normal" all that means is that they are in a range of women who are not ill. It does not mean that the levels fall into a range that women need for optimal health and functioning.
However, the good news is that research has begun in this area and experts in the field have started testing various levels with women, paying attention to anecdotal evidence (what women are telling them) and sharing information with each other. As a result, rudimentary "normal levels" are being established although there is still a great deal of debate about the limits for each age. Each specialist in the field might have a slightly different range and may use different measurements for diagnosis including total testosterone, bio-available testosterone, free androgen index or free testosterone.
A woman who would like her testosterone levels assessed in order ot better understand her low libido should find a specialist in the field of female sexuality and have them test her levels. It is important to have a specialty laboratory test the hormones and to use the same laboratory every time the blood is tested. Studies have shown that there is a huge variation in lab results, specifically when dealing with testosterone, both from lab to lab and, in some cases, within a lab from test to test. You really need to have a laboratory you can trust testing your bloods, as the percent and level of increase is as important as the initial levels themselves.
To learn more about low testosterone, please call Dr. Werner's office at (914) 997-4100 or (203) 831-9900 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.