Testosterone Free Test: The Truth About Testosterone Supplementation

What is a testosterone test?

Testosterone is the sex hormone of males, but females have testosterone in smaller quantities. A testosterone test measures the amount of testosterone in your blood sample.  

What is testosterone made of?

  • Testes, known as testicles, are responsible for reproducing sperm in men.  
  • Ovaries are responsible for producing eggs in females. 
  • Adrenal glands that are on top of each kidney make several hormones. 

Testosterone causes body hair, a deepening voice, and muscle growth when a male reaches puberty. When the male turns adult, it is responsible for sex drive, making sperm, and maintaining mass. Testosterone in females is responsible for the growth of muscles, bones, and healthy organs. 

Many forms of testosterone in our blood are measured to help diagnose health problems. Testosterone is attached to proteins, and proteins restrict the muscles’ ability to use testosterone the moment they are made, so the amount of “active” testosterone is enough. 

Three types of blood tests are done to measure testosterone. 

  • A total testosterone test – The most common test measures free and protein-attached testosterone.
  • A free testosterone test- to diagnose certain medical conditions, this test lets you measure the “active” testosterone in the body.
  • A bioavailable testosterone test is not commonly done but measures Testosterone Free Test and loosely attached testosterone with protein, known as albumin.  

What is the testosterone test used for?

The test is used with many other tests to:  

  • Analyze the cause of symptoms of low or high testosterone levels. 
  • Know the cause of early or delayed puberty. 

Testosterone tests are also used to monitor your health, if:  

  • you are consuming any medicine which might affect your testosterone count, or
  • you are a transgender man who is taking gender-affirming hormone therapy. 

Why does one need a testosterone test? 

This test is used for any male who has gone through puberty to determine whether symptoms of low testosterone levels in the blood are present. It is normal to see a decrease in testosterone with age. But some might face health issues because of low testosterone. 

For any male, the common symptoms of low testosterone are

  • Low sex drive
  • Erectile dysfunction 
  • Infertility
  • Enlarged breasts
  • Lack of facial or body hair
  • Thinning of bone or anemia
  • Loss of muscle mass

For any female, this test is taken when the symptoms are high testosterone. The common symptoms are

  • Abnormal hair growth in the body
  • Hair loss like male pattern baldness 
  • A voice that gets lower
  • Irregular or no menstrual period
  • Infertility 
  • Acne

High testosterone in females occurs when the female has polycystic ovary syndrome, commonly known as PCOS. It makes conceiving difficult and interferes with her menstrual cycle. 

What happens during the test? 

The testosterone test takes a blood sample between 7 and 10 in the morning. During this period, the testosterone levels are at their highest. A healthcare professional collects your blood using a needle from your arm vein in a vial. 

Why taking a testosterone supplement is a bad idea 

After a testosterone test, you’ll find many people who say, “I have low levels of testosterone; I should probably take a supplement.” Doctors do not recommend this. If someone takes extra testosterone, their body shuts down their testosterone and their ability to make their sperm. It leads to infertility. Many people take these supplements for anti-aging treatment, which is unsuitable for their bodies, and they should be taken only by those with low testosterone and symptoms.  

Taking the supplement might cause you to have these common side effects. 

  • Hair loss
  • Male breast enlargement 
  • Acne 
  • Testicular atrophy
  • Prostate enlargement 
  • Loss of libido 
  • Increased aggression 
  • Infertility 

Some dangerous side effects require immediate medical attention. 

  • Hypertension

When your heart strains, it leads to hypertension. It can cause hypertensive heart disease or artery disease, which plays a significant role in a heart attack. It can also lead to chronic kidney disease. 

  • Higher red blood cell count

Testosterone supplements will increase your T level, which leads to too many red blood cells. Increased RBCs may put your heart at risk, leading to a stroke or attack. 

  • Enlarged Prostate 

While consuming these supplements, the prostate enlarges, leading to difficult and painful urination. 

  • Elevated PSA levels 

A PSA blood test is done to measure prostate-specific antigen, a tool to examine prostate cancer. A healthy man has a prostate level of fewer than four nanograms per milliliter of blood, and any level higher than four nanograms can need medical attention. 

  • Liver damage 

Testosterone supplements taken orally carry a higher risk of liver problems. 

Any man taking these supplements should know the risks involved. You’ll find many alternatives which are worth giving a try before opting for these. Supplements should always be the last resort. 

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