Testosterone Week: What’s a “Normal” Testosterone Level and How to Measure Your T

by Brett on January 16, 2013 · 157 comments

in Health & Sports


Welcome back to Testosterone Week! If you’re just joining us, I recommend checking out our two previous posts in the series: the benefits of testosterone and a short primer on how T is made.

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-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 and have sought to create the most accessible resource on the web. But, I’m not a scientist or doctor, and may have gotten a few things wrong. If any of you professional endocrinologists see an error, I welcome your corrections.

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 on total 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 # Subjects Total
SHBG Stand.
25-34 45 617 170 12.3 2.8 35.5 8.8
35-44 22 668 212 10.3 1.2 40.1 7.9
45-54 23 606 213 9.1 2.2 44.6 8.2
55-64 43 562 195 8.3 2.1 45.5 8.8
65-74 47 524 197 6.9 2.3 48.7 14.2
75-84 48 471 169 6.0 2.3 51.0 22.7
85-100 21 376 134 5.4 2.3 65.9 22.8

The above chart groups men into seven ten-year age increments. It’s based on results from this 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)
Age Number
5th % 10th % 95th %
<25 125 692 158 697 408 468 956
25-29 354 669 206 637 388 438 1005
30-34 330 621 194 597 348 388 975
35-39 212 597 189 567 329 388 945
40-44 148 597 198 597 319 378 936
45-49 154 546 163 527 329 358 846
50-54 164 544 187 518 289 348 936
55-59 155 552 174 547 319 338 866

While this chart doesn’t show average free testosterone levels, I like the fact that it shows the T levels of men in the bottom five and ten percentiles as well as the T levels of the men in the top 95%. You can see how you compare to men with the lowest and highest T levels.

According to this chart, my beginning T level (383 ng/dl) was near the bottom 5% and 10% across all age groups. Even for 55-59-year-old men. (Boo!)

My testosterone level after 90 days of good living (778 ng/dl), was above average for my age group (Bully!).

These charts are a much better source than labs’ reference ranges to check if your T levels are normal. If your doctor tells you that your T levels are normal, make sure to compare the results to these charts to ensure he’s not shortchanging you.

As far as normal percentages of free testosterone go, ~2-3% is considered normal. If you’re significantly below that percentage range, you’ll likely experience symptoms of low T even if your total T is average or above average.

Go For Optimal, Not Average

If your testosterone levels match up with the average in the charts above, it’s safe to say that you have adequate amounts of T in your system. But we don’t want to go for just adequate, we want optimal testosterone levels so that we can derive as much benefit as we can from this virile molecule.

What’s an optimal T level, you ask? Great question.

The answer is: “It depends.”

Every man is different, so their level of optimal testosterone will be different, too. For some men, a testosterone level of 600 ng/dl will make them feel great, while other men need to be around 800 ng/dl in order to experience the benefits of optimal T.

Clinical research still hasn’t determined a hard threshold level for when symptoms of low T begin appearing. Some recent research suggests that symptoms of low T might begin appearing in men when their total testosterone level dips below 320 ng/dl. According to anecdotal evidence from the owner of Peak Testosterone, many men start noticing low T symptoms when their total testosterone dips into the 400s. Of course, it’s anecdotal, so take it for what it’s worth, but it’s probably a good idea to stay above 500 ng/dl if you don’t want to experience symptoms of low T.

So that’s a good rule of thumb for the lower threshold. And from there you can shoot for levels that are in the higher range for your age group.

But it’s important to note that optimal testosterone doesn’t necessarily mean you need super-high levels. Past a certain level, testosterone can actually cause a bunch of not-so-good side effects, like sleep apnea and overly thick blood. You typically only have to worry about too much testosterone if you’re using testosterone replacement therapy. Barring some physiological defect, too much T usually isn’t a problem found in men increasing their testosterone naturally through changes in lifestyle and diet.

How to Measure Your Testosterone Level

There are three ways to test your testosterone levels: saliva sample, urine sample, and blood sample. Each method has its pros and cons.

Saliva and urine tests are relatively inexpensive and fast. You can even buy a saliva test kit on Amazon for about $30. Just spit in the cup, put it in the mail, and a week later you’ll get a total testosterone measurement. The problem is that saliva and urine tests aren’t very accurate, which is why endocrinologists typically don’t use saliva or urine samples when diagnosing low testosterone levels. Instead they use blood serum tests.

While blood tests are much more accurate and sensitive than saliva or urine tests, they’re also much more expensive — blood tests for total and free testosterone can set you back $130. Because I wanted the most accurate results, I went with the blood serum testing.

What I didn’t know before I got tested was that there are different kinds of testosterone blood tests, some more accurate than others. As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, there isn’t much standardization amongst labs when it comes to testing. Some labs use one method, while another lab will use another test.

I later learned that the blood test I used to measure my total testosterone for my experiment wasn’t the most accurate on the market and wasn’t what the CDC is recommending labs use in their goal to standardize hormone testing. (I tested myself a month after my 90-day experiment with the blood test the CDC recommends. I’ll share my results in a bit.) I also learned that measuring free testosterone is pretty dang hard and that most free T measurements that labs give are typically just estimates.

Below I share what I learned about the confusing world of testosterone blood tests.

Blood Tests for Total Testosterone

ECLIA Method. When I tested myself for total testosterone for my experiment, the method the lab used was ECLIA, short for Electrochemiluminescent Immunoassay. It’s a fast and affordable method to measure total testosterone in your blood. Many labs use this method because it’s automatic and doesn’t require too much work on a lab technician’s part. However, some studies have shown that values obtained with ECLIA are significantly higher compared to the more reliable LC/MS method. Which brings me to…

LC/MS Method. LC/MS is short for liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. It’s considered the gold standard method by many researchers in measuring small molecules. Its accuracy and consistency is why the CDC is recommending LC/MS to be the standard method used when testing total testosterone. Because LC/MS is more sensitive than ECLIA, doctors typically use this method when testing patients with really low testosterone levels, such as women and children. While it’s more accurate and sensitive, the LC/MS method is more expensive than ECLIA. And it takes a bit longer to get your results.

A month after my 90-day experiment, I got tested again, but this time using the LC/MS method. My total testosterone level using this method was 826.9 ng/dl. Meaning my T levels increased even more since starting my testosterone changes.

You’ll have to make the call on which method you go with. If you don’t think you have extremely low T, ECLIA will work just fine. Just know that most researchers see LC/MS as the method that produces the most accurate and consistent results. Labs often offer both ECLIA and LC/MS tests. Later on, I’ll share where you can get tested using either method.

Blood Tests for Measuring Free Testosterone

Reading about the myriad of ways to measure free testosterone has nearly put me in the nut house. It’s confusing.

The problem that labs face is that there is so little free testosterone in our body, it’s hard to measure directly. Below I lay out the methods available right now to measure free T.

RIA Direct. It’s cheap, fast, but not very accurate. Recent studies have been calling into question the use of RIA direct methodology to measure free testosterone. Unfortunately, most labs across the country only use RIA direct because of its cost effectiveness. LabCorp, the lab I used, only measures free T using RIA direct. Despite the criticisms levied at RIA direct tests, many researchers believe it’s an adequate method for routine tests.

Equilibrium Ultrafiltration. Many in the field of endocrinology argue that equilibrium ultrafiltration is a superior and more accurate testing method to RIA direct. The problem is that many commercial labs don’t offer the method because it’s so time consuming and requires well-trained technicians. If you can find a lab that uses equilibrium ultrafiltration, expect to spend a bit more than you would for a RIA direct.

Calculated free testosterone. Instead of directly measuring free testosterone in your blood, it’s possible to get a rough estimate by calculating the amount of albumin, SHBG, and total testosterone in your blood. The problem with this method is that 1) it’s not very accurate and 2) it requires you to pay for three different tests: albumin, SHBG, and total testosterone. This can get pretty expensive, pretty fast.

As you can see, you have a variety of options when getting tested for T levels. My recommendation is to try to get your total testosterone number using the LC/MS method and use whatever method is available and cost effective to measure free testosterone. Of course, I’m just a guy who writes a blog about manliness, so take that recommendation with a grain of salt.

Where to Get Tested for Testosterone

Alright, so you might be asking your computer screen, “Where do I get tested?”

If you’re suffering symptoms of low testosterone, ask your doctor to order a blood test for you. Insurance might cover it.

If you’re just curious about your T levels, you actually don’t need a doctor’s order. You can sign-up for a test yourself.

Here’s how:

Order the test. You’ll need to order a blood test using a website that sells blood tests to consumers. No, you don’t send the website a blood sample. These sites contract with labs across the country to draw blood. They basically act as a middleman.Here are the sites I used to buy my tests:

You can also order albumin and SHBG tests from both Health Testing Centers and Request a Test so you can use the calculation method to figure out your free testosterone levels.

Go to a local lab. After you pay for your blood test, you’ll get an email from the website with your order information. You’ll also be told which lab you need to visit in your area to have the test done. Both Health Testing Centers and Request a Test sent me to LabCorp. If you’ve ever applied for a job that requires a drug test, you’ve probably been to LabCorp yourself, as they are a national company.

Get blood drawn. A nice nurse will draw some blood samples. The whole process takes less than 2 minutes. It’s best to get your blood drawn first thing in the morning, as T levels are at their highest in the morning and steadily decline throughout the day.

Get your results. Two or three days later, you’ll get an email from the lab with your results.

Test more than once. Because testosterone levels are sensitive to a whole host of environmental factors, it’s important to get tested more than once when diagnosing low T. You could have below average T levels one week, but slightly above average the next. This is particularly important if your doctor is considering putting you on testosterone replacement therapy. You don’t want him to make the decision from a single test!


Whoo, that was a lot of info. If you feel a little lost, here’s a crib sheet:

  • Don’t use lab reference numbers to determine if your T is low. They’re not usually accurate. Use the charts above for your specific age range.
  • Take a blood test to determine your total T levels. You can get this blood test at the doctor, or by signing up online and going to a local lab. Make sure to get tested in the morning!
  • If you can, take the LC/MS test to measure your total T — it’s the most accurate. If that’s not available, the ECLIA test will work okay.
  • To find your free T, try to use the Equilibrium Ultrafiltration test — it’s the most accurate. If that method isn’t available, the RIA Direct test will work okay.

I hope this information was useful. I definitely learned a lot in the process. Again, if anybody sees any corrections that need to be made or if I missed anything, please offer your constructive and friendly feedback.

Tomorrow we’ll cover that long awaited subject : how to boost your testosterone naturally.

Testosterone Week Series:
The Declining Virility of Men and the Importance of T
The Benefits of Optimal Testosterone
A Short Primer on How T is Made
What’s a “Normal” Testosterone Level and How to Measure Your T
How I Doubled My Testosterone Levels Naturally and You Can Too

{ 157 comments… read them below or add one }

101 23STEVE23 October 19, 2013 at 1:42 pm

I’m,37 my test came back at 141.I’m tired all the time, and my whole body just hurts. Will TRT help me? Thax

102 STEVE October 19, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Good stuff on here, very helpful!!

103 Russell October 26, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Great info! I am 57, have had my prostate removed and have recently started Androgel 1.62 because of low T levels. My 1st total blood serum reading was 144 and a few weeks later was166. When I look back I must have had low T levels for a long time because I have been suffering from low T like symptoms unknowingly for as long as I can remember (but not one Dr could figure out what was wrong with me) I have been doing a lot of research on T and I would like to ask a few questions: (1) If T levels are highest in the morning, and testing is done in the morning, how much does T drop throughout the rest of the day and why are the highest readings used to determine one’s T levels (Shouldn’t it come from an average reading) (2) If T levels are highest in the morning, why would Androgel require application in the morning (I get better results applying around 1pm) (3) If your body reduces/stops T production when Testosterone Replacement Therapy is started, would one need a higher dose to raise T levels? Androgel 1.62 recommends 5mg (2 pumps) but I am applying 10mg after reading a Dr’s article where he said he has had better patient T level results with double dosing. (4) Does one’s body eventually start producing T after a certain time on TRT, and if you know, approx how long does it take? I hope I am not being a PITA with all the questions but I have trying to get these answers for a while with no success. Thanx!


104 Tim October 30, 2013 at 7:30 am

What is the difference between what is referred to as “natural” and synthetic HRT? Are there known side effects to either. I have been taking Androgel 1.62 but never had any positive effects. I am first stages of taking the “natural” HRT. Full Blood workup and my T levels are very low. However I was ask to stop taking the Androjel 72 hrs before having blood work done. I guess I’m trying to find a solution to help this 57 yr old body get back to some normal energy level, ect. Tim

105 zeke October 30, 2013 at 11:17 am

Dear Russel,
Why did you have
your prostate removed ? if it
was cancer I would like to
know what doctor is prescibing it ?
Thanks. Zeke

106 Donald Stahl October 31, 2013 at 10:48 am

I am 70. In response to my complaint that my every-three-weeks injections didn’t seem to be providing any benefit, my board-certified endocrinologist just told me my score (apparently total T) of 523 was just fine, and that my desire for a score in the 800s was not to be countenanced because of the risks posed by dihydrotestosterone. What should I do?

107 23STEVE23 October 31, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Donald, I would say if u don’t feel good with your T at 523, and your Dr. Won’t give u more to raise ur T until u feel good, I would find a new Dr. Good Luck!!!

108 Julyguy76 November 4, 2013 at 3:07 pm

I just had mine tested in October (in the Tulsa Area). I am a 37 year old man, used to body build so I still carry a fair amount of mass. However, I am exhausted, stressed to the max, etc… I also noticed im somewhat emotional and things “work” for my wife and I but arent what they used to be. ….that sucks, I’m friggin 37, used to run 2-4 miles a day, and could at one time bench 80lbs more than my body weight…

Test came back, my total T level was 150. Im amazed im not crying at the sight of kittens. Got my first injection on 10/15. Once a month for three months, test again. Im not happy with this. I want this fixed… I feel like crap and honestly im a little depressed at all of this.

Is one injection a month enough to dig my T level out of the trench? How long before I notice a difference? To date it has been around 20 days and nothing… THIS SUCKS! I’m ready for some change.

109 23STEVE23 November 4, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Julyguy76, how much T did ur Dr. Give u for the month?

110 James McVee November 4, 2013 at 7:58 pm

I just got back from my doc. I am 29. My level was 767.

111 Mario November 8, 2013 at 2:02 pm

I just found out that my t level is 187. I am 40 years old. My urologist told me that is way too low. I am really sad about this. He had mentioned on the voice mail ( he had left a message on my voice mail while I was away on vacation) that I should get started on some gel. Does it work and what are the benefits? side effects? anyone can help I would appreciate it

112 Joe P November 9, 2013 at 12:31 am

I’m 54, reasonably fit but have always had a low sex drive. I like sex but not often (4-6 weeks) . In the last few years I’ve felt like what can only be described as burnout and quit working a year ago to try and revive myself. I exercise regularly, weight OK, Never done any steroids. I don’t drink regularly but have been an occasional binge drinker.

I had my T measured 6 weeks ago

Testosterone 243 (Range 156 -877)
SHBG 12.8 (Range 13-71)
Free T 7.8 (Range 4.7 – 25)

When i challenged the SHBG the Dr suggested I tried a 30 day T shot.
I felt a little better, a bit spottier and less brain fog but no change in Libido.

After 30 days I went back and my Tesosterone was checked again and it came in even lower:
Testosterone 133 (Range 175-781)

Same time of day but different lab.

Now Dr has proposed and I’ve taken a Nebido 6 week T shot which will then go to 12 week shots if it works. I cant find any relevant Nebido experiences online apart from Bayer marketing and juicers.

I’m based in Thailand and I can find doctors here who will pretty much give me whatever I want in the way of testing or treatments. The problem I’m having is finding someone who can actually explain what is going on in my body and propose an action plan that isnt “try this and see”. My “normal” free T number seems to be because my SHBG is so low but I cant find any resources discussing low SHBG.

The only online resources I can find for Nebido seem to be for juicers and gender changers. If anyone can point me to realworld unbiased resources for older folk T experiences I’d appreciate it.
My real question of course is what is a real normal T for a fit 55 year old and how do I get to it ?

113 R.Garg November 9, 2013 at 4:00 am

My age is 60 years , male , My (in blood test)TESTOSTERONE Value
Method C.L.I.A value -1174.16
units -ng/dl
(Reference range given in the report
Adult Male 241-827 )
I am not taking any drugs or replacement therapy . Why it is so high ?

114 Julyguy76 November 11, 2013 at 4:43 pm


I honestly have no idea… poor questions on my part. I was kind of in shock at the number. I go in for round two this week. I will ask while im in there.

115 S.Rajmohan November 12, 2013 at 11:18 am

I am 44 and divorced 8 years ago. In that period I never had sex but controlled. Now I seem to be impotent and the worrying part is my parents have made arrangements to get me married.What treatment I should undertake?

116 T Nation November 15, 2013 at 10:49 pm

CAUTION: Use Nebido and be ready for 90 days of hell! I felt dizzy and light headed all this time. I could not focus in meetings and started getting panic attacks. I had to get on Diazepam/Ativan to control it. STAY AWAY from this DANGEROUS concoction.
I have undescended testicle and my T level has been low after mid 20′s i.e in the range of 7 to 15. Stress certainly has a bearing on it. I was able to impregnate a girl in my teens but had problem later with poor motility and low sperm count. BUT, I still was fit, had good mood, had lots of hair growth and pretty good libido and decent erections!

117 T Nation November 15, 2013 at 10:52 pm

However, more I read on the internet more I get tempted to get my T levels up. It’s impossible to find a T specialist and every GP, Urologist or Endo seems to know less than you can find on the web. They are quick to do a blood test and if the levels are low they prescribe Gel or pills or Ethanoate injections. Pills don’t work that well, injections have peaks and valleys (mood swings) and gels I have yet to try.

118 T Nation November 15, 2013 at 11:01 pm

Boosting your T artificially i.e through prescription does have an impact i.e your erections will be stronger, you will think sharper and you will lose 10% weight and put on 15% more muscle. It does work from that perspective! HOWEVER, be very careful as that’s all the drug co’s want you to know. The PROBLEM is that you will also get: shrinking testicles, scrotum will pull your testicles into belly, reduced ejaculate, lower sperm count (as your body stops producing natural T/sperms when artificially enhanced. You will also start getting male pattern baldness. WORST, you will get more anxious, moody and if you are prone to these things in the first place then good luck as your will feel the impact 20 times to the point that you WILL get panick attacks and you will feel dizzy especially with NEBIDO (be very careful with this slow release ester – it’s dangerous).
My advice is to not worry too much about your T levels. Yes, try natural supplements and try to eat well, exercise and live stress free. TRUST me (who has experimented and read too much about this) — despite drug co’s promoting all the benefits – in the end CONS OUTWEIGH THE PROS. Leave it the way nature designed it for you. It’s a game of golf and you are only playing your own game and Don’t worry about getting it (T) up just coz you read that it will make you a MAN!
Just exercise and eat well!!

119 jimmy November 19, 2013 at 8:56 pm

As for shrinking testes, reduced ejaculate, etc…….. 250 unit injections twice a week of hCG will prevent that all together.

120 rink November 20, 2013 at 9:33 am

73 yr old reading in Oct 2013 reading was 36. Now in Nov its 364 its helped
my sleep however energy same as b/4
My fear is weight gain adding 10 lb since starting. Im not very active having
bad hip,I cant have the weight now tipping 310 lb.

121 Julyguy76 November 20, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Went last night for round 2. Asked while I was in there. I am on 1 ML of Depo Testosterone, once a month. I took the shot at 5:45 PM (17:45) Yesterday and noticed a differnce this morning. The nurse was actually amazed I didnt feel much better over the last month. I really didnt feel any different. She seemed to think they would up it to bi-monthly.

The good news, T-Nation, is that Im already bald and covered in body hair. I also had a vasectomy early this year so I dont really care about the sperm count…. :) Everything else you mentioned is worth paying attention to. I will keep a close eye on it. However, in the short term. Anything that makes me feel better is a welcome change and something I want to strongly consider.

122 Rocky November 24, 2013 at 2:32 pm

I am 45 and have been dealing with every symptom of low t for a few years.
Last year at my annual physical I requested my dr to check Test levels.
They came back at 515 for total testosterone.
He explained I was well within normal range and was not able to rx me for therapy.
He suggested that I may be under stress and cou ld give me a Rx for antidepressant.
I declined leaving his office without any answers feeling the same to this date.
I recently did a lot of research on low t and decided to see a hormonal specialist.
Explaining my symptoms and took another blood test.
This year my total T was 412.
Same lab a year later and a drop of 100 points.
I was amazed that it dropped so much.
I have just received my first test cypionate injection along with hcg injection.
I am putting all my faith in it and hoping I can get back to feeling myself ahain not only for me but for my wife and my kids.
Anyone who is suffering with the symptoms understands what I mean. It totally changes you as a person.
Testosterone has so much importance in a man’s body its not just for sex drive and a firm erection. It is responsible for an enormous amount of things.
Do your research screw your reg MD.
Go to a Dr. that is geared towards replacement therapy.

123 Alok Sharma November 25, 2013 at 9:06 am

Wonderful treatise on T levels. I live in India and was diagnosed for Low Free T. But one endocrinologist told me that Free-T tests in India are not reliable? So what do I do here?? I do travel a lot to UK & Germany. How can I get myself tested properly (And where)? Thanks for the help

124 gene h November 26, 2013 at 12:25 am

what is normal test. ?? I have had tests from 291 to 91 this year and am on androgel 1.62% 2 pumps a day? Please help G.H.

125 cws717 December 1, 2013 at 11:06 am

This site was the best info I could find on the web. Not only does it give the different numbers for the different tests it also gives the age ranges for them. This was a HUGE help for me in presenting my case to my Drs. as he & she both would only test total T and kept telling me I was in ‘normal’ range, which was around the mid 300s for total T and I’m 47. It was only after my nutritionist asked the Dr. to test ‘free T’ levels because she felt that after my weight loss, thru exercise and diet change that I had not increased my muscle % as much as she felt it should. So, I finally got a ‘Free T’ test done and I was at 6.4 a number in range for a man 30+ yrs my age! Now, as an HIV positive man, low T is something many of us need to watch. And since the meds for HIV seem to cause or affect low T but of course none of the drug companies will admit that. I’ve been fighting this battle for almost 2 yrs and finally started T therapy yesterday. I am on Testim1%, and of course it’s too early to state whether or not it’s working but I’m glad to finally have the chance to see if it will work.
To wrap up here… I just want to say THANK YOU! for putting this info out there. If it wasn’t for your website I wouldn’t be on my way to feeling like a human again and on my way to a normal body. Forgot to mention that my meds have caused me to have a belly that made me look like I was 6 mos pregnant and the moobs to match, not to mention the loss of muscle in both my arms and legs. I’ll post again after 30 days of treatment.

126 brad December 1, 2013 at 7:21 pm

I was first diagnosed with low t when I was 15. My level then was 291. I never did anything about it. I am now 38 and my level is 265. I have always wondered if I should seek treatment. I don’t and have never had a sex drive.

127 Jim December 5, 2013 at 7:37 am

Hi, i am 70. Been using Androgel & Cernos for 15 years now. Cernos is best! 5gm to 7.5gm/day. T levels 400 to 900. Your psa will go up according to your T level, so don’t panic. I get up to a psa of 6. Yes enlarged prostrate, and biopsy… yuk… Most doctors have no clue about levels, most are scared to provide prescriptions over 5gm/day. Lot of stupid laws on the gel, controlled substance…. jerks. the gel will make your life like a young man :-) Forget the free and total, just do total and go by how you feel. Try and keep the psa down. If you cannot sleep, your level is to high. If you do not get night erections, you are to low… simple. If you cannot get it up for sex properly, consider 5mg cialis per day. yes, per day. Take a 20mg and cut into quarters, best cost method. Been doing that for 10 years now. For you taking injections, once a month is stupid. You will range from a high of over 2000 to as low as 100 at the end of the month. Do it weekly or at least every 2 weeks. half life of T is about 3 days, do the math. i did the blood tests for a month so I know first hand!!! There also is a implant good for about 4 to 6 months, but i did not try it. I hope this helps you guys.

128 Caleb December 6, 2013 at 8:04 pm

22 and my level is 68. I hate cancer

129 abdullah December 17, 2013 at 4:45 am

in your research on the hormone, did u come across a time which is the optimal time to get your t levels tested? keeping in mind diurnal variations and all

130 abdullah December 18, 2013 at 3:00 am

also, i checked major labs in my city, Lahore, Pakistan and none of them do the LC/Ms test. Is there a ratio of some sort to equate the LC/MS test to the other one?

131 g.h December 18, 2013 at 11:55 pm

thanks to everyone, and if there are any more comments about low t at 91 plleeaasseee post.thanks again

132 Adrian December 21, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Yikes! I got my Serum total Testosterone test result today, and my T level is ONLY 273 ng/dl and I am 19 year old. I also workout (for past 1 year), take a health diet, take adequate sleep. I need to visit my endocrinologist as soon as possible :/

133 gene h. December 22, 2013 at 11:30 pm

I am 68 and generally in ok shape, hunt &fish ,but as for feeling like a man ,forget it.? I have been on androgel 1.62% for a year and my psa is the same as it was 25 yrs. ago? Any suggestions,and thanks again in advance,very sincerely g. h.

134 Randy Ice PT, CCS December 26, 2013 at 9:14 am

Re: Androgel

Many of you not getting any results from Androgel because it is poorly absorbed through the skin. Ditto for Teststim. There is also more conversion to estradiol when testosterone is taken topically due to the presence of aromatase in the skin.

The gold standard for testosterone replacement in injectable testosterone cypionate, a product I have used for 18 years with great results. It is what we use in all of our “low T” men on in our anti-aging medicine clinic. We teach them how to do the once weekly injections themselves at home. Because it is generic, it costs only $4/week as opposed to the ridiculous $275/month cost of Androgel.

Randy Ice PT, CCS
Clinical Coordinator
Vintage Medical Group
Murrieta, California

135 David January 4, 2014 at 4:04 pm

There are so many ads nowadays for hormone therapy and replacement etc. The numbers and recommended levels are very confusing. Great educational post that will help clarify the numbers for many. The followup post to read is your post on naturally increasing T levels. A doctor prescription for injections isn’t necessary.

136 jeroamo January 4, 2014 at 8:52 pm

T levels of 448 and 9.8 free… kind of low…

However, I’ll tell you probably why…

My good HDL is under 40, and total cholesterol under 140 and I have a vitamin D deficiency of 19. Also pre hypertension at 132/89

I lift and work out and can run a half marathon no problem…

It’s a lot diet related, I can’t eat dairy, dairy has a lot of Vit D, I also hate eggs…cholesterol. My doctor put me on 50k IUs of vit D per week and told me to cut out all alcohol and most salt.

So if your low t..check your cholesterol/vitamin d levels…they play a role in it.

137 Br January 14, 2014 at 10:09 pm

Thank you so much for this very useful post!!

138 Curt January 19, 2014 at 8:17 am

Interesting post. There are always debatable trade-offs in a balancing act such as this. Let’s hear the downside too (or did I miss that in another post?) You provide data and I see one link to a report. How about adding references so we can dig deeper into the subject through the sources of data?

139 Cor January 23, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Age 33, Total T = 124. I suffer from a lot of medical problems, including an auto-immune disease that causes a lot of pain, and muscle and bone atrophy, but only in my low back and leg. Can any medications (non-hormonal) affect T levels? I don’t think this is related since I have had symptoms of low T for years now, but just finally had a test reflect this. I also suffer from anxiety and insomnia, can this be related to low T, and will replacement therapy shots that I started today make these worse??

140 Kris January 29, 2014 at 2:48 pm

I am in the BHRT business and appreciate the article and honesty about the issues and how Traditional medicine isn’t looking at all the issues.The other factor with men on Testosterone therapy is there Estrogen increase but really do appreciate how you broke it down.

141 Jerry Telle January 29, 2014 at 9:39 pm

My levels vary between 137 and 200 and my doc refuses to go higher. I’m chronically fatigued along with chronic pain. Impossible to add muscle mass or strength which is about 33% of teens and twenties and thirties.

142 cathy February 5, 2014 at 1:20 pm

This article is very interesting. My husband is 49 yrs old has been using androgen for about 6 yrs. He has aways been couch potato and still is. He rarely gets off the couch except to eat and his food choices are terrible. Ive told him that exercise will increase his T levels but he’s not interested in any thing except his video games and TV. He has always been this way. His Total T is usually low ( last blood test it was 209 ( 348-1197 range) but his free was “normal” 10.0 ( 6.8-21.5 range) However, he does not apply his gel regularly, sometimes skipping a day or two, sometimes he forgets for several days. Our sex life has never suffered from his supposed low T, having sex every day is the norm for him . Since the Dr doubled his dose ( because his last Total T test was low) his sex drive is way too much, I feel his lab results are not accurate, and it concerns me that the Dr doubled his dose.

143 steve February 6, 2014 at 9:23 pm

There is alot of good info in here. I am a male 25 yrs old. I have been using depo testosterone for over a year now. Before I started my level was in the low 200′s. I started with a 2ml injection bi-weekly. I went back 8 weeks later and my level had dropped to the high 100′s. My urologist had me self inject 2ml weekly. After about a month I felt amazing. The tiredness was gone more alert and overall felt better. Along with this I was working out so that could of helped as well. Another eight weeks I got tested and the the level was at 1280. The doc told me to cut back to every other week. I stopped using the testosterone all together and went back 8-10 weeks later and my level was down in the high 100 range. So I started weekly again and now I am seeing an endocronologist who tested me and my levels read 1400. According to her its way to high and not safe. The therapy is great it gives you energy focus strngth increased sexual desire but you also get body acne faster haor growth smaller testicles and decreased seamen. Its a tough because it isa temp fix unless you use it for life. As soon as you stop your levels will drop. Then your back to where u started. Thats why i got a referral to an endo to see if maybe the pituitary isnt functioning properly and come up wthan alternative solution.

144 steve February 7, 2014 at 5:25 am

I have recently gotten my Testosterone levels all around tested and i was a user of steroids since 17 im now 30 and i constistedly used em for 13 years. My test levels came back that they where unreadable they where that high. Any answers if ya can thanks

145 FRED February 8, 2014 at 12:40 am

I am 67 years old. Last year I had the blood test and my total T was 512, which I am happy with, and I have good energy. My problem is that I had my prostate removed in 2010 due to cancer and I need injections to get an erection. Is there any product out there that will give me an erection without using injections?

146 Tom February 22, 2014 at 7:57 pm

I am 26, had my testosterone level checked. It was 546. I am doing the diet and hopefully will get it to at least 850.

147 dharris February 23, 2014 at 7:43 pm

i noticed alot of guys posting on here were taking T shots only once every 30 days and not getting results when tested after 30 days. I can tell you with experience for 3 years of shots, that every man’s T levels drop off faster than you think as the days go by. I found that I get excellent results by getting a shot every 8-10 days(same monthly amount). Our bodies use up the T and since we are giving them an artificial source we have to regulate it as we used to produce to balance out. Try this and I think you will get better results. also, I Pyramid my amounts each year. I will slightly increase the amount for 3 months, then decrease for 3 months then back to normal 3 months. You do this because the body will get used to a certain amount and only produce a certain amount to go along each month. I do this to make sure my body produces some T naturally to add to what I am putting in and it works well.

148 Daniel March 1, 2014 at 12:55 pm

I’m 54 and for years have had signs of low T but never knew anything about testosterone . Have had do many health issues I would never have made a connection anyway . Bladder cancer , liver cancer +transplant for just 2 of the issues . But after all the ads for low T etc. I asked Dr’s ( different opinions )
To check levels . Last month total = 30 . This month total = 34 . Yes those numbers are correct !!
The range from lab is 335 to 1197 . And I got only
30 – 34 at the end of this week I see an Endocrinologist . Have never been to one before and it took 6 weeks to get an appointment . I really hope I can get treatment and answers . My hair has always been Thick and last 3 months has drastically thine out , my exhaustion level is devastating literally start getting up about 7 am and can’t bring myself to get out of the house until around 2 pm. I’ve never had to use an alarm always got up at 5 am worked 12 hours per day and like I just wrote I set 10 alarms and barley get going . Sorry if I’m rambling but at least this is the short version.
I’ve only seen people state 3 digit numbers but has anybody else got the levels I do ?? 30 – 34 not a misprint. I’ve been trying to get Dr’s for the longest time to figure out what’s wrong and have given them detailed lists of the effects, symptoms etc . It seems they only go with the most obvious and simple diagnosis . And don’t go any further . Ducks how much time wasted . And I’m the one that did all the leg work and research . They like to dismiss Google
Please let me know about those numbers . And is severe depression from the very low levels ?

149 Russell March 5, 2014 at 10:56 am

Hey jeroamo 33-
Interesting you would bring up vitamin D. I am 47 and on 50k of vitamin D TWICE a week and last week scored a 64 on vitamin D. It seems like I should be off the chart on it but that is 64 with a range of 30 to 100 or as I see it average at best. I feel better on the days I take it. I also take androgel and scored a 460 last week and no testes were ordered on HDL or cholesterol. SO to my question……. is there something I can read up on on the correlation of the vitamin D and T? my doctor has mentioned nothing about this possibility and I have always wondered if the two are interconnected.

150 Sam March 10, 2014 at 1:30 pm

My results came back quoted to me over the phone as “0.187 nmol/l” measured at 9am. I am 51.
Can anyone comment on this, as it doesn’t seem to match the kinds of numbers being quoted on this forum? Maybe the units are different.

151 Gra March 10, 2014 at 3:50 pm

Hi Daniel,

The typical, I’m not an expert, ask your Dr., etc. disclaimer.

After dealing with clear symptoms of LowT, doing all sorts of research and my General PA saying “Yes, I agree with your research”, but then refusing to treat with anything more than a monthly shot of 100mg testosterone cypionate, I suffered severely for months as my total T continued to decrease until I could get in to see an Endo.

Endo’s first statement after review? “Poor guy, you must feel awful. Are you carrying your testosterone bottle with you?”


Good, we’ll give you a 200 mg shot before you leave and you are to immediately start 200 weekly – that 100 monthly is giving you just enough to get your levels “UP” to that of a female and you don’t have the estrogen to compensate.

Been at 200 mg weekly for 7 months. Gone from T totals of low 100′s to high 600′s.

Gained 17 lbs and LOST 1/2″ from my waist. Can anybody say muscle mass? Even as a teen with consistent weight lifting I’ve never had muscle definition and now I’m loaded. By no means do I resemble a body builder, simply that you can now see defined biceps, calf and thigh muscle, etc.

Tshots have resolved a dozen other issues I’ve dealt with for life. No more migraine headaches, no more human barometer as I used to get massive sinus pain when there was going to be a 10 degree shift in temps over a one hour period, no more constant joint and muscle connectivity pain, etc.

I wake up refreshed “every” morning!

Yes there are risks from this regular dosing and I’m clearly aware of them but am delighted with the great vs. bad ratio.

Clearly from my view I could live to be twice my age without Tshots or die tomorrow with Tshots and I’ll stay on them without hesitation.

Do your research on Endocrinologists in your area. Be sure you focus on one that is fully into getting your T Levels correlated to your needs for physical and emotional well being which will vary some with all men but from everything I studied, most men are top of the world with minimal negative effects in the 600-800 range. Again, all of this varies by every individual for many genetic reasons, simply presented as a “general” overview from someone who is physically and emotionally better in 40% of bodily needs than I’ve been in several years and better in the other 60% of bodily needs than I’ve been in my entire life.


152 Michael March 15, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Brett, I have a question for you or readers. Does anybody knows a Doctor in South Florida that is knowledgeable in this matter (I live in West Palm Beach area)
I had all the symptoms, went to the doctor (Endo), first test 243, second two months later 396.
I still have same symptoms but he insists that because this is in his “range”, I’m very good, and there is nothing else to do.
So, Im trying to find real doctor.
Thx guys.


153 Mark March 18, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Is low t based on free t? My total T is at 1400 my SHBG is 127 but my free is only at 0.9. My doc is putting me on a once weekly injection does tis sound correct. And is low T based on free T as well as total. Any advice?

154 Mark March 18, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Sry I am 46

155 Dick March 26, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Daniel’s comments and Gra’s answer are excellently stated. Daniel, you have all the symptoms of hypogonadism, the medical term for low testosterone. I, too, have the symptoms and am trying to get on a program that will help. I started with a locally formulated testosterone gel, which gave me severe side effects. I do not know if a commercially available gel will work better, but have talked to three men who swear that the injections work great for them and are affordable. I see an endocrinologist tomorrow for the second time and expect to start on injection therapy soon. I understand exactly about the fatigue issues and depression. Hand in there and seek an endocrinologist with experience in this matter. Good luck. Gra’s response seems to indicate that the proper treatment will get you there!

156 ali abdu April 3, 2014 at 10:42 am

I have checked my testosterone level ,that is 4.67 ng/dl.but stil i did not reach puberty and doctor also told me no any sign of any syndrom.so now what can i do?

157 Phil Krajewski April 12, 2014 at 8:17 pm

Interesting article. I’m 48 and have diabetes, which is well controlled. I just had my T levels checked as part of a regular check up and my level is 1028 ng/dl. Don’t know what the free T level is, but the SHBG came out to 69 nmol/L. I’ve seen some articles that this level (SHBG) is a bit high. Is that true and should I really be concerned about it–if anyone knows? Thanks.

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