What is free testosterone?


Free Testosterone also called a testosterone test is a blood test to find the number of free testosterone in your blood. It locates unattached testosterone and calculates their ratio to attached testosterone to see if it is low or high.

Testosterone can have many benefits. They help develop hairs and grow muscles. They are also responsible for male sex hormones called androgen. They also help the penis and testes to grow. They are also the reason that some men have deep voices while others have high-pitched voices.

The testosterone can help improve sexual life, increases health and fitness activities, and increases the sperm count in the human body. While they have many benefits, excess of testosterone can also cause many problems for people that we will be discussing below.

As in men, testosterone can also help women’s ovaries develop. They also improve organs and body processes in women.

Free Testosterone: Check Testosterone Levels

The testosterone is produced by the pituitary gland and it is controlled by the brain, which determines the amount of total testosterone that the body wants. 

In order to understand the ratio of free testosterone, you will need to understand total testosterone and how they can make a difference. The total testosterone attaches 2 proteins called albumin and Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) for different functions of the body. On the other hand, free testosterone and albumin-bound testosterone don’t get a pair easily. The free testosterone is also called as bioavailable testosterone. It is the most essential testosterone count. This is the testosterone that is easily used by your body.

Free testosterone count can differ for both men and women. It is much higher in men and a lot lower in women. Its ratio can cause deficiencies and other diseases if not checked and cured on time.

Most women with high levels of testosterone can have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) that can cause the following problems.

  1. Infertility
  2. Acne
  3. Higher blood level
  4. Loss of hair
  5. Obesity
  6. And lack of menstruation

On the other hand, men with low levels of testosterone can face the following problems:

  • Loss of sex drive
  • Low energy
  • Bone loss
  • Infertility

The free testosterone level drops with age in both men and women. There is no need to treat patients who have a low level of testosterone with age and the Food and Drug Authority (FDA) advises against doing it. The condition of losing testosterone with age is called hypogonadism.

Free Testosterone Level Check: Symptoms 

Here are some ways to find out if women have a high level of testosterone in their bodies.

  • Women will have no or irregular menstruation cycle
  • They will either have no hair on the body or extra hair growth on the face
  • They will have an imbalance of sugar level.
  • Women with high testosterone are often infertile
  • They tend to lose hair on the head and scalp

In case any such condition is noticed, make sure to get the free testosterone test for such women so that they can be cured as soon as possible. There is no official treatment offered for testosterone problems in women.

On the other hand, men with a lower level of testosterone can go for bioavailable testosterone therapy. 

Medical Advice for Free Testosterone Levels

In men, a lower level of free testosterone level can lead to low sex drive. Healthcare professionals are now using testosterone therapy to cure both men and women having a testosterone problem. Since testosterone levels can cause different problems, there are varying tests for treating each one.

The free testosterone test is done for men with andropause or late-onset hypogonadism. Symptoms that men have low total testosterone levels include:

  • Anemia
  • Depression
  • Decreased bone density
  • Lack of energy or fatigue
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Poor concentration
  • Erectile dysfunction or inability to have an orgasm
  • Infertility

In some cases, men with HIV/AIDS may also have low testosterone levels. However, this is not always the case because recent studies have reported that not all HIV/AIDS patients have low levels of testosterone.

So, to make sure that the testosterone levels are low, doctors advise about the following tests.

Hormone Binding Globulin Testa

This is a simple blood test that is conducted after you wake up in the morning. In the morning, you have the highest testosterone level. In the hormone binding globulin test, blood is taken from a vein in your arm or finger.

Make sure that you don’t have any drugs or medicines when the testosterone test is conducted. It tells about the total testosterone level and the ratio of free testosterone in your blood.

Sex Hormone Binding Test Checkup

Since the hormone binding test doesn’t give a complete count of the amount of testosterone attached to your blood, the sex hormone binding test is used. It takes a blood sample from your body and checks the amount of testosterone bound with the sex organs. If the person has a weak sex drive, the total testosterone count would be increased.

Your report can tell you about the level of testosterone in your body. The normal testosterone level depends on a number of factors including your age, gender, diet, and health.

Normal total testosterone results in adult men:

  • Ages 19 to 49 have 249 – 836 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) testosterone
  • Ages 50 and older people have 193 – 740 ng/dL testosterone

Normal total testosterone results in adult women:

  • Ages 19 to 49 women have 8 – 48 ng/dL testosterone
  • Ages 50 and older have 2 – 41 ng/dL testosterone

Doctors would advise you further tests depending on the report of your sex hormone binding result. A few tests that you may have to get done include:

  • 17-hydroxyprogesterone. Detects congenital adrenal hyperplasia. This problem can directly impact the production of hormones.
  • Androstenedione (AD). Checks wellness of your adrenal glands, ovaries, or testicles.
  • Biopsy. The doctor removes a sample of tissue from your testicles to check for cancer.
  • DHEAS. The test is conducted to check for problems such as tumors in your adrenal glands.
  • Estrogens. Measures estrogen levels can cause infertility or menopause.

Results of Testosterone Levels

The results of your tests can tell about the underlying testosterone-related problem and how to get it treated. In most cases, doctors advise medications that increase the testosterone level naturally. However, in some cases, testosterone replacement therapy is recommended. It depends on a case by case basis. Research studies have suggested that having regular exercise can maintain the total testosterone levels for a longer period.