Testosterone Levels Test: Why It’s Done, What Results Mean

Recommended by Dr. Michael White, Updated on December 3rd, 2017
Reading Time: 2 minutes
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A testosterone test checks the level of this male hormone (androgen) in the blood. Testosterone affects sexual features and development. In men, it is made in large amounts by the testicles. In both men and women, testosterone is made in small amounts by the adrenal glands; and, in women, by the ovaries.

The pituitary gland controls the level of testosterone in the body. When the testosterone level is low, the pituitary gland releases a hormone called luteinizing hormone (LH). This hormone tells the testicles to make more testosterone. See a picture of the pituitary gland .

Before puberty, the testosterone level in boys is normally low. Testosterone increases during puberty. This causes boys to develop a deeper voice, get bigger muscles, make sperm , and get facial and body hair. The level of testosterone is the highest around age 40, then gradually becomes less in older men.

In women, the ovaries account for half of the testosterone in the body. Women have a much smaller amount of testosterone in their bodies compared to men. But testosterone plays an important role throughout the body in both men and women. It affects the brain, bone and muscle mass, fat distribution, the vascular system, energy levels, genital tissues, and sexual functioning.

Most of the testosterone in the blood is bound to a protein called sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). Testosterone that is not bound ("free") can also be checked if a man or a woman is having sexual problems.

A testosterone test is done to:

You do not need to do anything before you have this test. Your doctor may want you to do a morning blood test, when testosterone levels are highest.

The health professional taking a sample of blood will:

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Testosterone Levels Test: Why It's Done, What Results Mean

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