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Free T-Index - Why you might need to be tested for Free Testosterone Levels
Testosterone is an important hormone in the body. In most cases, high or low levels of testosterone are symptoms of a health condition. This web page will discuss what testosterone is, how these levels are tested, and why you might need to be tested.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a male hormone-androgen- that enables male features to develop in young men. Testosterone is synthesized in the adrenal glands and testes. It is responsible for the changes boys experience during puberty such as development of muscles, hair growth, and deepening of the voice. Adult men also make testosterone to produce sperm and boost their sex drive.
Women ovaries also produce small levels of testosterone. It helps many body processes and organs in women. The brain's pituitary gland regulates the levels of testosterone the body makes.
A huge percentage of the testosterone in the blood is attached to two proteins: the sex hormone binding globulin and albumin. Some testosterone does not attach itself to proteins and is free. Albumin bound testosterone and free testosterone are also called bioavailable testosterone or testosterone that can be easily used by the body.
Why You Need a Free Testosterone Level Test
If your doctor suspects you have high or low testosterone, they will conduct a test of your total testosterone levels. The free testosterone test is helpful in determining when your total testosterone levels are low.
Men with low testosterone levels suffer from bone loss, low energy, poor sex drive, and infertility. Testosterone levels drop in men as they begin to age. Testosterone tests in women are also conducted to determine whether they have high testosterone levels. Women who have high levels of testosterone are probably suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
A doctor may conduct a free testosterone test to determine if your low sex drive is a result of low testosterone levels.
The test may also be used for men suffering from hypogonadism or andropause, a condition attributed to decreased levels of testosterone.
Men suffering from this condition may have:
Loss of muscle mass
Decreased bone density
Fatigue or lack of energy
Symptoms of high levels of testosterone in women are:
Imbalance of blood sugar
Excessive facial hair
Nonexistent or irregular menstruation
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For men, if a test indicates your free testosterone is lower than usual, your doctor may advise you to go for testosterone therapy. The FDA is yet to approve drugs for women with high testosterone levels.
How is the Test Conducted?
The test requires you to provide a blood sample. This test is conducted during morning hours because the testosterone levels at this time are high. Since testosterone levels are likely to change, you may be required to go through the test several times during the day to confirm the results. The results of the test are provided in pictograms per milliliter (pg/mL). If your testosterone levels are normal, your reading will range from 0.3 to 2 pg/mL.
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