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What’s a “Normal” Testosterone Level and How to Measure Your Test (How to get bloods)


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I'd like to start a topic on a most frequently asked question!

Many times I've seen individuals make it clear that they cycle but seem to lack an understanding about getting bloods and it's importance, especially beginners and even advanced users for that matter..
So I gathered some information that will provide the basic essentials with covering the following -
How to read normal bloods,where to get bloods, and how to read a chart..

It's vital to know where you stand before a cycle, during and after,especial comparing numbers and keeping a record, time and dates and what compounds where used!

It's crucial to get a blood analysis, pre cycle, midway (5 weeks into cycle/blast) and post cycle (4-6 weeks after PCT is complete for optimal results..
I also suggest getting bloods in the morning AM hrs, when test levels are at peak..

I also added some additional info on normal E2 and other hormonal levels

What’s a “Normal” Testosterone Level and How to Measure Your Testosterone!

Today we’ll be taking a look at what’s considered a normal testosterone level and how you can get your testosterone levels tested. As I began researching testosterone levels and hormone testing for this series, I quickly learned that there’s a lot of conflicting and confusing information out there — some websites will say that “X” is a normal testosterone level, while another website says “Y” is the ideal range. Even medical labs give conflicting numbers on what’s a normal testosterone level.

Why so much confusion?

The problem is that there hasn't been much standardization in hormone testing, particularly regarding T levels. Different labs use different methods (and measurements), which has only created confusion among consumers and even family doctors about what testosterone level results even mean.
Hopefully, the current state of confusion will soon change. The Center for Disease Control here in the U.S. started a project in 2010 to get labs to agree on standard hormone testing procedures. It’s slowly gaining ground, but not every lab has signed on.
I also learned that the bottom range of what’s considered “normal” by many doctors is actually woefully underestimated. Doctors are telling men who come to them with symptoms of low testosterone, “Well, you’re barely within normal range, but it’s still normal, so… you’re fine!”

No, Dr. Everything’s not-A-Okay. It’s not fine.

I hope in this post I can clarify some of the confusion surrounding testosterone levels and hormone tests. I’ll be straight with you. This stuff is super confusing. I’ve done my best to synthesize all the disparate info out there into an easy-to-read format for the layman terms and have sought to create the most accessible resource on the web. However, I’m not a scientist or doctor, and may have gotten a few things wrong. If anyone see an error, I welcome your corrections. :)

Let's begin -

Total and Free Testosterone Levels

Before we begin, I want to reiterate the fact that there are three different types of testosterone floating in your body: free testosterone, SHBG-bound testosterone, and albumin-bound testosterone. When you get tested, there are two tests you can get: total testosterone and free testosterone.
Total testosterone is the total amount of T floating in your blood at the time of the test: free, SHBG-bound, and albumin-bound combined. Total testosterone is typically measured in ng/dl, or nanograms per decilitre.
Free testosterone is the measurement of — you got it — free testosterone (which often includes albumin-bound testosterone as well because it can easily convert to free T). Free T is typically measured in picograms per milliliter. As we’ll discuss later in this post, because free testosterone makes up such a tiny, tiny percentage of your total T, it’s really hard to measure accurately. So, when you see research on normal testosterone levels, it usually focuses ontotal testosterone. Consequently, most of the numbers in this post will be about total T levels. With that said, I do include some references to research that indicates what average and optimal free testosterone levels are.

What’s a “Normal” Testosterone Level?

When you go to get tested for testosterone, the lab will often show you what’s considered the “normal” range among patients who have tested with that particular lab. It’s called the“reference range.”
For example, LabCorp (the lab I used to test my T levels here in Tulsa, OK) shows a reference range of 348 – 1197 ng/dl (nanograms per decilitre) for total testosterone levels. According to this reference range, my total testosterone level of 383 ng/dl at the beginning of my experiment would mean my total T levels were — barely — within the normal range.
Here’s the problem.
That reference range consists of a wide variety of men who tested with LabCorp: 80-year-old men and 20-year-old men; obese men and super fit men; men with pituitary gland problems and men with glands that work like champs.
Sure, my 383 ng/dl was considered normal, but normal compared to whom? An 80-year-old man with Type 2 diabetes?
The fact that reference ranges don’t break patients down by age or health status explains why a 30-year-old man can go to his doctor with the symptoms of low T, only to be told that his T levels are fine because they’re within the “normal” range. If you’re 30 (or even 50), but have the same testosterone level as an 8o-year-old, diabetic man, your doc may say you’re okay, but you’re still not going to feel good. Plain and simple.
What’s interesting is that for many years, the bottom number of the reference range for T levels at many medical labs was much lower. For example, up until last year, LabCorp’s reference range for testosterone was 249-836 ng/dl. You could have had a testosterone level of 250 (which is super low) and still be told by your doctor that you were normal.
All this is to say that the “normal” levels put out there by doctors and labs aren’t all that useful.
Average Testosterone Levels by Age
When determining what’s considered a normal testosterone level, it’s best to look at what the reference range is for men your age. Researchers have known for years that T levels typically drop by about 1% every year after you hit your mid-30s. So if you’re 35, comparing yourself to a bunch of 80-year-old men isn’t very useful because they likely have really low T levels.
Unfortunately, many labs don’t break down reference ranges by age. However, studies have been done in which researchers do just that. Below, I include the results from two such studies.

Measurements in Conventional Units (ng/dl), SHBG in (nmol/L)

Age# SubjectsTotal

The above chart groups men into seven ten-year age increments. It’s based on results fromthis 1996 study. According to this chart, my T level at the beginning of the experiment (383 ng/dl) was closer to the average of an 85-100-year-old man. Yikes! This chart also lists the average free testosterone levels of the subjects. My beginning free testosterone was below the average of men my age and my end level was above average.
In a study done that same year by another team of researchers, they produced the following chart of testosterone levels broken down by age:
Measurements in Conventional Units (ng/dl) (source)

5th %10th %95th %
18 years old)[/TD]
[TD="align: left"][/TD]
[TH="align: left"]
[TD="align: left"]
[TD="align: left"]Follicular Phase[/TD]
[TD="align: left"]30-120[/TD]
[TD="align: left"][/TD]
[TD="align: left"]Ovulatory Peak[/TD]
[TD="align: left"]130-370[/TD]
[TD="align: left"][/TD]
[TD="align: left"]Luteal Phase[/TD]
[TD="align: left"]70-250[/TD]
[TD="align: left"][/TD]
[TD="align: left"]Post-Menopausal[/TD]
[TD="align: left"]15-60[/TD]
[TD="colspan: 2, align: left"]Male[/TD]
[TD="align: left"]15-60[/TD]

Progesterone (Pg) - This steroid hormone is a female sex hormone which, in conjunction with
estrogens, regulates the accessory organs during the menstrual cycle and it is particularly important in preparing the endometrium for the implantation of the blastocyte and in maintaining pregnancy. In non pregnant women progesterone is mainly secreted by the corpus luteum
whereas in pregnancy the placenta becomes the major source. Minor sources are the adrenal cortex for both sexes and the testes for males. Current research indicates it balances agaisnt overactivity of both testosterone and estrogen, and effectively blocks 5-alpha-reductase enzymatic conversion of testosterone into DHT. Progesterone also plays a role in stimulationg Osteoblast (bond building) enzymes, lowering cholesterol levels, stimulating growth of epithelial tissue and lobule-alveolar systems in the breasts, and upregulation of the P-53 cell-division gene, thus offering an anti-carcinogenic effect against run-away cell division in hormone sensitive tumors.
Follicular phase0.2-1.40.64 - 4.45
Luteal phase4 - 2512.7 - 79.5
Post-Menopausal0.1 - 10.32 - 3.18
Males0.1 - 10.32 - 3.18
Conversion factor: 1 ng/ml = 3.18 nmol/l

Testosterone (T) - one of the most important male sex hormones. In men it is mainly synthesized by the testes, in women both the ovaries and by the adrenal cortex; it is secreted into circulation. Testosterone is transported in the plasma by a beta-globulin, called testosterone binding
globulin. It is estimated that about 98 % of the circulating testosterone is bound. The remainder, present as free testosterone, is assumed to be the metabolicly active portion. In the target organ, it is transformed by 5-alpha-reductase into the physiologically effective androgen DHT. In men the determination of testosterone is used as an indicator for the function of the testes: low hormone levels are found in cases with Klinefelter's syndrome, cryptorchism or anorchia. Male or female patients with an androgen producing tumor (ovaries, adrenal cortex, testes) show
increased values. Measurement of testosterone is used to confirm hirsutism in woman. The determination of free or not specifically protein-bound testosterone can be helpful in cases of hyperprolactinemic women or hyperandrogenism. It promotes the burning of fat and the building of lean muscle mass. It also appears to be the fuel for the libido in both sexes. The role of testosterone in cardiovascular health is still hotly debated, but it appears that it may have a detrimental effect over the long term. Testosterone, like progesterone, upregulates the P-53 gene to turn off rampant cellular division, so in that sense is anti-carcinogenic. Testosterone also stimulates oil production in the skin, which can lead to acne problems.
Females6 - 860.1 - 1.2
Males270 - 11002.4 - 12
Conversion factor: 1 ng/ml = 3.47 nmol/l

Free or Unbound Testosterone ("Free T") - As mentioned above, about 98% of the testosterone in a man or woman's body is bound to blood proteins. This means that only a small portion is actually "bio-available" and acting on the body's tissues. A healthy percentage for either men or women is around 2.5%. One thing that sometimes frustrates gender patients is that the measurements for the biologically significant free testosterone are not easily compared between men and women. Labs often will state the percentage free for men, but give a measurement in pg/ml for women. Or the male measurements will be in ng/dl requiring a mathematical conversion for direct comparison to the "normal" range of the opposite sex. The percentage is usually higher in adolescents (up to 5%) and quite low in elderly people (around 1%). Many doctors believe that any reading below 2% means the patient should take testosterone supplements, and that any reading below 1% indicates a completely absent sex drive. The level readings between men and women are so vastly different because the number represents a percentage of the TOTAL testosterone. Women naturally start with a lower total amount, so 2.5% of 40ng/dl is going to be much less than 2.5% of 800ng/dl in a man.
SEXng/dlpg/ml% Free Range
Females0.3-1.90.6 - 6.80.4 - 2.4
Males9-3047.0-244.01.6 - 2.9
Total Free Range is 0.3 - 5% ( 2% average )

CLICK HERE for sample reference ranges for other free/bioavailable hormone levels.
DHEA-S (Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate) is secreted by the adrenal cortex. DHEA-S
is thought to be a biologically weak androgen, but because of its high concentration in blood, it contributes significantly to the androgenization process. The physiological role of DHEA-S is not well known, but it seems to be intricately involved in adrenarche (axillary and pubic hair growth). DHEA-S appears to be an excellent indicator of adrenal androgen production. Elevated levels of DHEA-S have been reported in states of excess androgen production such as cystic acne, hirsutism, infertility, enzymatic adrenal defects, Cushing's syndrome due to bilateral adrenal hyperplasia, and virilizing adrenal tumors.
Premenopausal0.8 - 3.92.1 - 10.1
Pregnancy (3. Trimenon)0.2 - 1.20.5 - 3.1
Postmenopausal0.1 - 0.60.3 - 1.6
Newborns (both sexes)1.7 - 3.64.4 - 9.4
Males1.0 - 4.22.6 - 10.9
Conversion factor: 1 µg/ml = 2,6 µmol/l

Androstenedione - this hormone is produced by the adrenals and gonads. Therefore, the determination of the level of androstenedione in serum is important in the evaluation of the functional state of the glands. Androstenedione is a precursor of testosterone and estrone. Besides the adrenals, in females, the ovaries have been shown to be an important source of androstenedione during the ovulatory cycle.The principle production of testosterone in females is from the conversion of other related androgens, especially androstenedione. An abnormal testosterone level in women should be accompanied by the estimation of serum androstenedione. The use of serum testosterone determination in conjunction with Enzyme Immunoassay of androstenedione can be used to determine if source of excess androgen production is adrenal or ovarian.
SEXMean [ng/ml]Absolute Range [ng/ml]
Females (18-49 years)2.150.70 - 3.50
Females (50-80 years)1.800.20 - 3.40
Males1.750.35 - 3.15
Conversion factor: To convert to nmol/L: ng/ml x 3.45 = nmol/l

Leutenizing Hormone (LH) -LH stimulates Leydig cells in the testes to produce and secrete testosterone (T). As the testosterone travels through the bloodstream it passes through the anterior pituitary gland and hypothalamus it creates a "negative feedback loop" that triggers a decrease in GnRH and LH. LH also stimulates the adrenal gland to produce androstenedione and progesterone. A problem with LH levels alone is rarely seen, so testing is only needed if testosterone level is abnormal, for example, if the patient is suspected to have been born with Klinefelters Syndrome. In women a normal LH level is similar to FSH. An LH that is higher than FSH is one indication of PCOS.
Females (follicular)< 7
Females (Surge 48 hours before ovulation)> 20
Males2 - 18

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) - In women FSH is often used as a gauge of ovarian reserve. In general, under 6 is excellent, 6-9 is good, 9-10 fair, 10-13 diminished reserve, 13+ very hard to stimulate. In PCOS testing, the LH:FSH ratio may be used in the diagnosis. The ratio is usually close to 1:1, but if the LH is higher, it is one possible indication of PCOS. Basic hormone testing for males often only includes testosterone and FSH. However, in cases such as Klinefelters Syndrome doctors will usually look at both FSH and LH levels. In males FSH stimulates the Sertoli cells in the testes to produce androgen-binding proteins, testosterone, and a protein called inhibin. Inhibin, in turn, travels in the blood back to the pituitary gland whre it creates a "negative feedback loop" that decreases the output of FSH. Since FSH stimulates testosterone production, and testosterone can be converted to DHT and estradiol, an increase of any or all three can also create a "feedback loop" that decreases FSH secretion.

Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) - this is the principle blood protein that ties up the bulk of the steroids the body produces. For example, it bind with about 98% of the total testosterone, but also binds with other steroids as well. As androgen production increases, available SHBG decreases.

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