Changes to LabCorp Guidelines for Low-T Diagnosis and How They Impact Your Treatment

Written by , Published on July 18th, 2018
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As we learn more about testosterone deficiency and how our bodies respond to declining testosterone levels, we periodically revise our strategies regarding the determination of low-t. Every patient is different and responds to declining testosterone production in their own way, but there are defined clinical limits to what is considered normal testosterone levels and what is characterized as low-t or andropause.

What is the Testosterone Normal Range?

The clinical range for establishing healthy testosterone levels consists of two values. If your testosterone levels are lower than the base of the range, then you are considered testosterone deficient. The healthy testosterone range is referred to as either the normal range or the reference range.

Any value that falls outside of this range is grounds for further examination. Abnormally high testosterone levels are associated with testosterone abuse and cancer, low testosterone volume is a sure sign of low-t. When you meet us for clinical hormone evaluation, we primarily use Labcorp as the diagnostic testing firm of choice. We utilize the efficient diagnostic capabilities of Labcorp to provide you with fast and accurate diagnoses of hormone imbalance and deficiency.

Recently, Labcorp adjusted the way that they evaluate your testosterone levels. Previously, the normal range for testosterone was 348 ng/dL to 1,197 ng/dL. Today, their recommended reference range has been adjusted to 264-916 ng/dL. This means that they have reconsidered their previously stated position and now feel that slightly lower testosterone levels are considered normal than before.

What Do LabCorp Changes Mean for Men Interested in Testosterone Therapy?

Because Labcorp performs such a large volume of low-t evaluations and blood tests, they are considered an industry standard for the diagnosis and treatment of many conditions, such as testosterone deficiency. The original reference range has been used for over a generation to establish a clinical need for low-t treatment.

The reason that Labcorp has adjusted their normal range is that of ongoing clinical research from the Center for Disease Control, the CDC. For a long time now, different laboratories and lab testing companies have more or less independently set their normal and ideal testosterone ranges, measured in a variety of ways. The CDC's effort is a move toward low-t standardization.

Of course, as usual with changes like this, the story is more complicated than it may seem at first glance. Though the CDC has adjusted their suggested normal range, the reason that Labcorp made their decision is mostly the result of changing theories concerning testosterone and body mass index (BMI).

To further explain, the reference range is considered to be the values between which 95% of individuals are perceived to be healthy. These changes reflect what is considered “healthy” for people that are overweight.

One of the most significant problems with this means of low-t determination is that it relies on an arbitrary consideration of what is healthy. The BMI is used as a rule-of-thumb for establishing lean muscle mass vs. body fat in an individual. A higher BMI is associated with being overweight or obese.

How is BMI Calculated? What are the Flaws of BMI as a Health Indicator?

BMI is a relatively simple calculation derived from dividing weight by height. As you can imagine, there are flaws in how BMI correlates to real body fat percentage, but it works decently in place of more thorough tests. The biggest weakness in BMI is that there is no way to consider muscle mass in the calculation.

Muscle naturally weighs more than fat per volume. This means that individuals that go to the gym frequently or work in hard labor may have elevated BMI but still be perfectly healthy. This also means that folks that are sedentary may be more unhealthy and more at risk than their BMI suggests.

The second problem is that BMI correlates to health differently for different genetic and hereditary groups. For example, Native Americans and Asians are at elevated risk for many dangerous conditions even when they are in the average BMI Range.

About testosterone levels, BMI is significantly flawed. While it is very real that higher body fat percentage has a powerfully suppressive effect upon testosterone levels, there are a variety of factors that also have an impact on testosterone, including smoking, sedentary lifestyle, poor sleep quality, and more.

New Reference Range Does Not Adequately Reflect Reality for All Low-T Patients

The study that led to these changes in the reference range (“Harmonized References Ranges for Circulating Testosterone Levels in Men of Four Cohort Studies in the United States and Europe”) does not consider all factors regarding what is or isn't a healthy lifestyle. Many individuals that have a healthy BMI still have co-mingling factors that impact testosterone production.

Luckily, these guidelines are not set in stone, and hormone clinics across America have the right to act in their patient's best interest as they see fit. This overly broad definition of"healthy" has the potential to prevent many men from getting the testosterone therapy treatments that they deserve because individuals have such a propensity to behave in ways that superficially suppress testosterone levels.

Our Hormone Clinic Uses Professional Judgement to Assess Low-T Risk

It's important to note that LabCorp is a massive corporation with a lot of pull and sway. Due to their size, it benefits them greatly to follow national policy concerning hormone deficiency guidelines. At our licensed and board-certified HRT clinic, we have experienced endocrinologists and hormone doctors that have spent their lives working with patients suffering from age-associated hormone imbalance. They understand that these guidelines are overly limiting, and may prevent many patients that can benefit from testosterone from receiving treatment.

The Definition of Good Health

Our wellness clinic also recognizes that there is a considerable difference between good health and lack of illness. The goal of our clinic isn't just to ward off disease, but to facilitate optimal health. For that reason, we will continue to use our own judgment to assess your needs as a patient. We feel that many needy patients may be left out in the cold if we adapt our policies to these updated guidelines. Though we use Labcorp to facilitate blood testing, our hormone specialists follow their own guidelines and modify their evaluation of low-t diagnosis to the individual characteristics of the patient.

Interested in Testosterone? Call Us Today!

If you feel that you may be a candidate for testosterone replacement therapy, we encourage you to reach out to our clinic for accurate hormone deficiency diagnosis tailored to your own needs. We use only the most effective treatment regimens, and we use a comprehensive approach to combine bio-identical hormones with positive lifestyle changes to provide you with the best possible results. We understand the subtleties of testosterone deficiency, and won't rely on imperfect clinical trials as a shortcut to thorough and personal evaluation!

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