- Testosterone can affect far more than your sex life.
- A testosterone imbalance can affect your quality of life.
- Both high and low testosterone can cause far-reaching health problems.
- Home testosterone test kits are an easy and convenient way to measure your testosterone levels.
Testosterone testing is a good idea for all men. Like all the other hormones circulating in our body and regulating its functions, optimal testosterone levels are a delicate balance. Too little T can cause problems beyond the bedroom, but too much can also cause significant health issues.
Optimal Testosterone is All About Balance
Men have been conditioned to think we can never have too much of this hormone we see as nature’s blessing for the male body. It makes us muscular and aggressive. When it courses through our veins, we feel good. It allows us to perform magic between the sheets. It’s the essence of masculinity.
The truth is more complicated. While it’s true that low testosterone can contribute to erectile dysfunction and a low sex drive, too much testosterone can also be harmful. The key to maintaining optimal testosterone levels is in achieving the right balance.
Significant health risks are associated with both too little and too much testosterone.
Risks of Low Testosterone
Men tend to blame low testosterone for many normal signs of aging. And indeed, low T can be the cause of a significant drop in quality of life for males.
The potential health concerns go beyond bedroom prowess. Low T can also cause cascading health problems, beginning with an increased risk of heart disease. Doctors often connect low testosterone with:
- High blood pressure
- High HDL cholesterol levels
It is also possible, however, that the presence of these conditions leads to low T. We do know that low testosterone levels can cause:
- Loss of bone and muscle mass
- Lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS)
- Prostate enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH)
- Low energy
- Loss of libido
- Erectile dysfunction
Risks of High Testosterone
The testosterone-boosting supplement industry is partly responsible for the widespread belief that more testosterone is better and one can never have too much of it.
The actuality is that high testosterone can cause heart disease and problems affecting the reproductive system. Boosting T levels with supplements carries additional risks.
Cancer Cell Growth
Testosterone can stimulate the growth of prostate cancer cells. Lowering testosterone levels is the goal of hormone treatment for prostate cancer.
Shrinking Testes and Infertility
Artificially high testosterone levels can shrink your testicles and lower the quality of your sperm.
Your body’s hormonal system strives to maintain balance. If you flood it with testosterone from an outside source, it acts to reestablish the balance and stops your natural testosterone production. Your testosterone levels drop, your testicles shrink, and your sperm may go missing entirely.
Heart Muscle Damage and Heart Attack Risk
Supplementing testosterone to reach normal levels may help prevent heart disease. But high levels can do the opposite.
Elevated T levels in men 65 or older or younger men with a history of heart disease may spell trouble. Too much testosterone may also lead to the hardening of arteries.
If you’re younger, you may think that you are immune to these effects, but over time, abnormally high T takes a toll on your body.
Other potential health problems that can result from high testosterone levels include (among others):
- Elevated blood pressure and cholesterol
- Increased risk of blood clots
- Liver disease
- Difficulty urinating
- Mood swings
- Impaired judgment
- Weight gain
- Uncharacteristic aggressiveness
The Truth About Testosterone and Erectile Dysfunction
Many men believe that raising testosterone levels is a cure for ED. Here’s the truth: Low T can cause erectile dysfunction, and for men with low testosterone, supplementing their T can help with erection problems.
However, for men with normal T levels, boosting testosterone over the normal range does not help regain erectile function. For ED, there’s no upside to higher-than-normal T levels.
Testosterone Testing Basics
Testosterone is a complicated hormone that affects more than virility. A testosterone imbalance can affect many areas of your health. The purpose of testosterone testing is not to see if you are manly enough, but to find out if your testosterone level is optimal or out of balance.
What Is an Optimal Testosterone Level?
The normal range for testosterone in the male blood is wide. Anything between 270 ng/Dl and 1070 ng/Dl is normal. The average testosterone level is 679 ng/Dl. Bear in mind that this is by no means an exact science. Some researchers argue that the lower limits of the normal range should be more flexible.
According to the American Urological Association, normal testosterone levels are north of 300 ng/Dl.
These readings are serum testosterone levels, describing how many nanograms of the hormone you have in one deciliter of your blood at the time of testing.
Many factors may impact momentary testosterone levels. Resistance training may give your T a temporary boost. Sexual activity may cause spikes or drops in your testosterone levels. Age is also a factor.
What Is the Average Testosterone Level by Age?
Male testosterone levels peak at around 18-20, depending on the individual. Before that, kids have lower testosterone levels. Past that age, T levels decline. How quickly they drop depends on individual lifestyle choices, genetics, etc.
- In 10-year-old boys, the normal testosterone levels are between 7 and 130 ng/Dl.
- In preteens aged 12-13, T levels are between 7 and 800 ng/Dl.
- In 16-year-olds, anything between 100 and 1200 ng/Dl is normal.
- By the late teens (17-18), the normal range goes up to 300-1200 ng/Dl.
- For a 20-year-old, the normal range is 270-1070 ng/Dl.
What is an Optimal Testosterone Level for Building Muscle?
Gym bros are the men most likely to value high testosterone levels. Men who are focused on accumulating lean muscle tissue home in on the fact that more T translates to more muscle.
If an individual starts from a lower base level, raising T levels to the upper end of the normal range may be enough to help with muscle building.
Researchers have found that they needed to increase testosterone levels by 1046 ng/Dl in men over 65 to achieve a lean muscle mass increase of 1.5 kg and a 30 percent increase in one-rep maximums.
Taking testosterone levels to the top of the normal range does promote lean muscle accumulation, and the effects of testosterone on muscle building are dose-dependent, meaning that lower doses won’t achieve the same effects as higher ones. Unfortunately, this can work against you; high testosterone can be as damaging to your health as low T.
At-Home Testosterone Testing
If you’re squeamish about seeing a doctor about your testosterone levels, at-home testosterone test kits are a safe, accurate, and discreet option.
Order a home testosterone test kit online, and follow the instructions that come with it. You can collect a saliva specimen in the comfort of your home and mail it in using the prepaid envelope included in the kit.
Your kit provider will deliver your results online in 2-5 days.
eDrugstore Can Help
We carry a safe and accurate at-home testosterone test kit you can use to measure and monitor your testosterone levels. Depending on your results, you can make an appointment for a free doctor consultation to discuss your treatment options. If you suspect that a testosterone imbalance is affecting the quality of your life, find out for sure so you can take action.
If you’re struggling with ED, we can help with that, too. We carry all FDA-approved ED medications, the scientifically proven way to treat erectile dysfunction. Browse our ED medication guide. A U.S.-licensed physician will issue your prescription and have your order delivered right to your door. With eDrugstore, virtual health visits and shipping are always free.
Dan is a long-time freelance writer focusing on technology, science, health, and medicine, with a lifelong interest in physics, biology, and medicine. His work has taken a particular focus on scientific studies “beyond the headlines,” reading the study to more closely examine the results.