Understanding Testosterone Testing
When it comes to testing testosterone levels, more is better. That is, the more hormones that you can measure, the better. Think of it like a puzzle – the more pieces (test results) you have the easier it is to see the whole picture (what’s going on in your body). It can also make diagnosing and treating any issues much more efficient saving you time and money.
The important hormones to test for are listed below.
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a sex hormone/by-product of testosterone metabolism that contributes to secondary sex characteristics, especially hair and prostate growth.
Free testosterone is also known as bioavailable or unbound testosterone. This is the most biologically active form of testosterone because it is free to attach itself to your testosterone receptors. Free testosterone is awesome.
Total testosterone is the sum of all bound and unbound testosterone.
Androstenedione is an intermediary in the production of testosterone and the estrogens estrone and estradiol. Androstenedione can be awesome (converts to testosterone) or not awesome (converts to estrogens).
Total estrogen is the sum of the three estrogens; estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3). Estrogens are the female sex hormones, but they also have important functions for men, so, like women, it’s good to keep some around (*ba-dum-chhh*). Testing for each individual estrogen is recommended.
Pregnenolone, progesterone, and DHEA are hormones that play vital roles in metabolism, sexual function, and neurological health.
Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) binds to testosterone and inhibits it from functioning normally (i.e., making you a strong, lean, sexual stallion). SHBG is not awesome.
Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) stimulate your testes to produce sperm and testosterone, respectively.
So, we’ve established what to test for and why what to test for is important. Equally important is how you test for what to test for. Follow? Good.
To ensure the most accurate results, do the following:
- Use the same diagnostic lab every time. Comparing a test done using LC/MS/MS to one using immunoassay, for example, is like comparing apples to oranges. Actually, it’s like comparing apples to rotten oranges. I don’t recommend using labs that analyze their samples with immunoassay due to its propensity for error.
- Control as many variables as possible. Every time you test, have your blood drawn at the same time of day, eat the same meal beforehand (the night before if you test fasted the next day), same bedtime, same wake up time, same everything.
- Avoid alcohol for at least 48 hours before testing. It’s also a good idea to avoid a strenuous workout for at least 48 hours before testing, unless you plan on doing that same workout every time (see #2).
Now that you’re testing is complete, you’ve probably got a whole bunch of values and graphs and charts and no idea what it all means. Unfortunately, interpreting test results and determining a treatment plan is way beyond the scope of an email tip (there are people who devote their lives to that, they’re called doctors). If you need help interpreting your testosterone test results, want to know what to do next, or are just looking for a place to have the testing done, Human Health Specialists can take care of any or all of those issues (and any others that may arise). Give them a call at (480) 839-0805 to schedule a consultation.