Testosterone tests are taken for diagnosing a variety of hormone disorders, such as amenorrhea, infertility, and virilization (masculine physical characteristics), among others. Imbalances result not only in irregular menstrual patterns but also numerous, bothersome symptoms, such as hair loss, hirsutism, acne, oily skin, depression, and more.
Continue reading to discover the most essential information concerning common and advanced testosterone tests as well as why these tests are important to pursue throughout various life stages.
Common Testosterone Tests
Many physicians test women's testosterone levels through blood serum to find out her total testosterone level, or the total amount of the hormone in the body (bound and unbound to proteins).
Normal blood levels of total testosterone in adult women before menopause range from 6 to 86 ng/dL. Levels are highest in the mornings and fluctuate throughout the day.
Throughout the menstrual cycle, testosterone levels peak right around ovulation and also right before menstruation. Unlike progesterone and estrogen, testosterone does not guide a woman's monthly cycle.
For women who have irregular cycles, doctors may request testosterone lab tests on more than one day. Also, they can test levels of other hormones that may be contributing to the imbalance, such as dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), prolactin, and androstenedione, among others.
During pregnancy, free testosterone levels steadily begin to increase throughout gestation after week 28. Studies report that maternal serum testosterone concentrations can increase by 70 percent or more in pregnant women.
Furthermore, for a woman who is postmenopausal, free testosterone levels usually range from 2 to 41 ng/dL.
Urine tests are less often used by healthcare professionals to check testosterone levels.
Like testosterone blood tests, urine tests are criticized for not being an accurate measure of bioavailable testosterone. Bioavailable testosterone is the term for free testosterone, the type of testosterone not bound to proteins, and albumin-bound testosterone. It is, therefore, biologically active and can enter tissues to exert responses in the body.
Keep in mind that any hormone levels in urine can also be influenced by factors such as drug use, kidney function, and diet. Women should perform a urine test the same time as they would a blood test in order to evade significant shifts in the outcomes.
Advanced Testosterone Tests
Again, there is contradictory research concerning testing for testosterone using salivary measures.
On one hand, salivary tests are considered more accurate than blood serum testosterone tests because they reflect free testosterone levels. Measuring non-protein-bound testosterone is generally a more precise indicator of the androgen's biological influence in the female body.
On the other hand, although saliva tests can also be seen as providing patients with an “individualized” therapy, some critics claim the results are completely skewed due to the fact that they can be influenced by numerous variables, such as diet, hydration, storage conditions of the archived samples, and even circadian rhythm.
Either way, the results of saliva tests should fall within the normal ranges of testosterone levels according to a woman's age and reproductive stage.
For those who choose to self-test, results should be verified by a doctor in order to confirm a hormonal imbalance and properly diagnose any underlying medical conditions.
Why are Testosterone Tests Important?
Depending on the reproductive stage, in general, testosterone tests are used to investigate a number of health conditions, such as the cause of virilization, infertility, or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
During puberty, testosterone tests are performed in children to help determine the cause of the development of genitals that are not clearly male or female, also known as ambiguous genitalia. It is also one of the sex hormones tested to reveal the cause of delayed or early puberty.
During pregnancy, a testosterone test can help verify the presence of higher levels, which has been linked to growth restriction in utero. Also, research has found that girls exposed to higher maternal testosterone levels had more male-typical childhood play behavior.
During the menopausal transition, low testosterone can also contribute to menopause symptoms, which can be confirmed by testing for testosterone. It can also judge the effectiveness of hormone therapy treatment, if being pursued. Numerous symptoms - like vaginal dryness, low libido, insomnia, hot flashes, and more - can be deterred by maintaining healthy testosterone levels.
Once a testosterone imbalance has been detected, there are many treatment options women can pursue to amend it. Continue reading to learn more about testosterone medications and products for the variety of choices available.
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