Healthy testosterone levels are vital, as Dr. Life found out – he became a bodybuilder in his 70s after addressing his falling testosterone levels. It helps men stay strong, and live longer, happier lives. Here we explain a little of the science surround it and also look at ways to give it a boost.
What Is Free Testosterone?
Your free testosterone levels dictate how much excess testosterone (male sex hormone, androgen) is available for your body to use. Most of the testosterone produced is attached to proteins, but some remains free in the blood, and this bioavailable testosterone can be used utilised for additional muscle growth.
If your total testosterone levels are falling you will have little or no free testosterone. That typically means one of the following issues is present:
- Your body is keeping its testosterone tightly encapsulated in sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). The attachment to SHBG is crucial as that transports most of your testosterone through the bloodstream to the various tissue sites that house androgen receptors. However, if the testosterone cannot separate from the SHBG upon arrival, it cannot bind with its receptors to carry out its functions.
- An enzyme produced by belly fat is responsible for lowering your free testosterone levels. Once the testosterone breaks free from its SHBG bond, it can then be converted by aromatase into estradiol. If this conversion occurs before testosterone can reach its receptors, then the level of free testosterone in the blood declines. At the same time, estrogen levels will rise. Estrogen increases the retention of belly fat, causing a greater amount of aromatase to enter the bloodstream in search of free testosterone.
- In similar fashion to the estradiol conversion, a different enzyme – 5-alpha reductase – carries out the same process, only this time testosterone becomes dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Elevated DHT levels can cause prostate enlargement, hair loss, and other issues.
Importance of Free Testosterone Levels
Free testosterone is of vital importance to the body. Bound testosterone cannot get the job done. When testosterone is encapsulated in the SHBG molecule, it cannot stimulate the many functions it must carry out each day.
The functions of testosterone include:
- Stimulating proper metabolic function for efficient fuel burning and weight management
- Ensuring adequate energy and endurance to move throughout the day
- Supporting sharp brain functions, including memory, focus, processing, and emotional well-being
- Enhancing libido and sexual functions
- Promoting a healthy heart by balancing cholesterol and blood pressure levels and increasing red blood cell production
- Improving sleep quality and duration
- Building and maintaining strong bones and muscles
Free Testosterone Levels for Men
Some laboratories measure free testosterone levels pg/mL by age – pg/mL meaning picograms per milliliter. Other labs use ng/dL – nanograms per deciliter, which is what our charts on this page will show. In either case, the lab provides the doctor with an acceptable range for free testosterone levels. Any reading towards the bottom of the range may be considered low, just as numbers near the top could be viewed as high. Average would fall right in the center of the normal testosterone range.
The free testosterone levels by age chart shows both the normal and low ranges. Anything less than the number at the bottom is a telltale sign that free testosterone levels are less than they ideally need to be. However, that does not always mean a man will have Low T symptoms. The hormone specialist looks for both low testosterone blood serum levels as well as symptoms before making a diagnosis.
An example of this is as follows:
- Find age 50 – 54 in the chart above. You will see that 4.06 ng/dL is the lowest reference for what this lab considers normal. 15.6 ng/dL is regarded as the top of the high normal A man could test out at 5.2 ng/dL and still be in the “normal” range, but, yet have the symptoms of Low T. In this situation, the doctor would likely prescribe testosterone replacement therapy.
- If the same man has test results showing 3.85 ng/dL but not any signs of Low T, then treatment would not be required. Chances are his body has adjusted to the change in free testosterone levels.
Free Testosterone Levels for Women
Do not let the bars in the free testosterone levels by age chart fool you. Women naturally have less testosterone in their bodies than males. It is still essential to maintain adequate free testosterone just as for men.
Because women have so little testosterone, any decline could create serious problems. Female sensitivity to testosterone is more than that of a male, and that is why many menopausal women show signs of Low T rather quickly.
Look at the numbers in the bars. The highest level of free testosterone in women is only 1.08 ng/dL compared to 20.7 ng/dL in men of the same 20 – 24 age group. The decline over the next decades may seem minimal, but with such low numbers, even a small drop could be detrimental.
Anything below 0.06 ng/dL in the free testosterone levels range could signal problems for females at any age. Since estradiol comes from testosterone, it is even more important for women to maintain healthy testosterone levels at all times.
Do You Have A Low Free Testosterone Level?
When it comes to free testosterone levels, average looks different for each person. It is up to the hormone specialist to determine who has Low T and is a candidate for testosterone therapy.
A free testosterone level blood test measures the amount of free testosterone available to the androgen receptors. Other panels ordered by the doctor will alert to hormone conversion and other concerns. People with very low testosterone may be suitable for hormone replacement therapy – more information on this can be found on HGH Prescription.
Always contact a doctor or hormone clinic for additional information, testing, and treatment for Low T. Getting expert help early on can help you live a longer and more fulfilling life, as well as improve your muscles!