Testosterone is commonly associated with being the main sex hormone in males. Whilst this is certainly true, testosterone plays an important role in females, too. In short, it plays a significant role in the overall health of any human.
Owing to the obvious biological differences between males and females, testosterone is responsible for different things depending on the sex of the individual.
In men, testosterone is responsible for muscle growth and the development of male sex characteristics including body hair, testes, and penis.
For women, testosterone plays a vital role in the growth of reproductive tissue and bone mass. However, it is produced in far smaller quantities in women than men.
Over the course of an individual's life, their natural testosterone levels go through peaks and troughs. There are a number of factors which influence this. Low testosterone levels in both women and men can lead to serious health problems.
If you are in doubt about your testosterone levels, it is vital that you seek medical advice from trained professionals.
In this article, we’ll be discussing normal and average testosterone levels by the age of the individual. We’ll also touch on the implications of low testosterone levels in both men and women.
Normal Testosterone Levels By Age
Testosterone levels are measured by nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). Normal levels of testosterone change over the individual's lifetime.
Factors such as lifestyle, stress levels, sleep pattern all influence these normal levels. During puberty, a male’s testosterone levels could be anywhere between 300 and 1,200 ng/dL.
As men get older, their testosterone levels start to decline. Normally, this decline starts around the 30-year-old mark.
A major factor in determining normal testosterone levels in any individual is that individual’s subjective experiences, lifestyle, and genetic makeup, among other factors. By experiences, we mean how they feel on a day-to-day basis.
If an individual starts to experience some symptoms associated with low testosterone levels, there may be another underlying cause which has nothing to do with their testosterone.
This is because the symptoms of decreased T levels are also the symptoms of a myriad of other health issues.
The only way to consider T levels being on the lower side is a blood test. Some men and women who have low testosterone may not even know this is the case, as they might not experience any symptoms.
Average Testosterone Levels By Age
Many studies have been conducted in order to establish what average testosterone looks like across a range of age groups. Most of these studies, however, do not factor in most existing conditions or lifestyles.
This can lead to misleading data.
This being said, a decline in testosterone over age is a widely accepted fact of life. The severity of this decline is up for debate. You might be wondering why testosterone levels decrease with age.
This can be explained by looking at the menopause in women. The menopause is typically a woman’s body adjusting to post-childbearing age. The same is true for this decrease in testosterone levels in men - it’s called andropause.
One study conducted by Harvard Health Publishing in 2008 found that whilst there is a great deal of swing in the range of testosterone levels recorded in the sample, there is a steady decline in men over 40.
The “average” testosterone measurements in the sample were as follows:
Men in their 40s: 252 - 916 ng/dL
Men in their 50s: 215 - 878 ng/dL
Men in their 60s: 196 - 859 ng/dL
Men in their 70s: 156 - 819 ng/dL
As this study shows, men in their 60s and 70s can have a testosterone level of anywhere between 156 and 859 ng/dL. This is a considerable difference.
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The Implications of Low Testosterone
As mentioned earlier, there are serious health risks associated with low testosterone levels in both men and women. In clinical terms, low levels of testosterone is a condition known as hypogonadism.
The benchmark for low testosterone levels is different for men and women. Typically, low testosterone levels in men are identified at 300 ng/dL or less. In women, this number is 25 ng/dL or less if you’re under 50 years of age, and 20 ng/dL if aged 50 and over.
Having testosterone levels of 300 ng/dL or 25 ng/dL (in men and women respectively) is considered low. The clinical threshold for hypogonadism is any reading below 200 ng/dL.
Getting an investigatory testosterone count blood test should really be down to how you feel. People who are experiencing a testosterone level of 200 ng/dL generally feel terrible.
There are a collection of symptoms for low testosterone in men and women. There is some crossover with these symptoms, but mostly they’re different for men and women.
Men with low testosterone usually present with the following symptoms:
- Reduced sex drive and sperm count
- Sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction
- Decreased muscle mass and increased body fat
- Hair loss
- Depression and anxiety
- Fatigue and insomnia
- Bone mass loss
- Cognitive issues
Low testosterone in women usually presents with the following symptoms:
- Muscle weakness
- Osteoporosis/loss of bone density
- Weight gain
- Menstrual irregularities/fertility problems
- Decreased sex drive and sexual satisfaction
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If you or someone you know is experiencing the above symptoms, it is vital that you seek professional medical advice.
There are a range of treatments available for people with a low T count. The most common one is known as testosterone replacement therapy.
This therapy doesn’t stimulate your body into producing more testosterone, it adds to your current levels for an overall increase. TRT work best when prescribed by doctors who specialize in hormones, also known as endocrinologists.
Women with low testosterone should receive a variety of treatments as there might be an underlying health condition influencing T levels, such a polycystic ovary syndrome.
The use of certain medications or lifestyle changes is not uncommon to treat lower T counts in women. Whether male or female, doctors should work with you to develop a treatment plan tailored to you.