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Last updated: Oct 05, 2022
6 min read

Testosterone test kit: everything you need to know

felix gussone

Medically Reviewed by Felix Gussone, MD

Written by Michael Martin

Disclaimer

If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic moved many provider visits to your living room couch, at-home health testing was a booming industry. Today, test kits allow you to check everything from food sensitivities to fertility, all from the comfort of your home. One of those home tests is a testosterone kit. Read on to learn more about these testing kits, signs of low testosterone (or low T), and treatments.

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sexual health

Low testosterone affects 39% of men

Check yours
Check yours
xpoll-ac-testosterone-test

sexual health

Low testosterone affects 39% of men

Check yours
Check yours

How to test testosterone levels 

Testosterone tests check your testosterone levels. One option to measure your testosterone is to visit a healthcare provider for a blood test. Because testosterone levels fluctuate throughout the day and peak in the mornings, healthcare providers generally require two blood tests from different mornings to diagnose low T. 

Your provider may also request tests for luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), and prolactin, which could indicate other underlying conditions that may cause low T (UCF, n.d.).

If you’d rather avoid visiting your healthcare provider’s office, you may want to try an at-home testosterone test kit, available online and in stores. With testosterone test kits, you collect a sample and mail it back to a lab (via a prepaid shipping label). After you send the kit back, your results are usually provided by email or online within a few business days.

There are three types of at-home testosterone test kits:

  • Saliva: With this test, you collect your saliva in a tube and mail it to a lab. Unfortunately, the use of saliva testing for testosterone is controversial. Some studies have found that salivary and blood testosterone levels are closely correlated, while others found they don’t match up (Arregger, 2007; Adebero, 2020; Fiers, 2014). One review noted that sample collection methods and storage of salivary tests could significantly impact accuracy, and small amounts of blood in your saliva can also impact results (Groschl, 2008).
  • Dried blood spot (DBS): With DBS testing, you prick your finger with the supplied tool, apply blood to the testing paper, and mail the kit to a lab. One small study determined DBS testing is as accurate as traditional blood testing for hormones like testosterone (Salamin, 2021).
  • Microtainer: With this safe and easy approach to measuring hormones in your blood, you prick your finger with the supplied tool and add a few drops of blood to a small tube. Just like the venous tubes in phlebotomy labs, these tubes are designed for transporting a blood sample to a lab for testing. Microtainer tests are intended to replicate traditional in-lab or in-clinic testing as closely as possible with a finger prick at home, and they can also measure a similar set of hormones that healthcare providers test for at the doctor’s office. Peer-reviewed research regarding the accuracy of such tests is limited.

What is a normal testosterone level?

What’s considered a “normal” testosterone level differs for men and women. 

For men

The exact cut-offs for normal testosterone levels in men vary, but estimates typically range from 300–1,000 ng/dL. According to the American Urological Association (AUA), a total testosterone hormone level below 300 ng/dL indicates low testosterone in men, also known as hypogonadism (Mulhall, 2018). Healthcare providers might still treat someone with slightly higher T levels if the signs and symptoms are typical of low T.

For women

For women who are not in menopause, the normal range for total testosterone is around 15 to 46 ng/dL (Kanakis, 2019). 

Unfortunately, testosterone deficiency and testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) haven’t been thoroughly studied in women, and the threshold for low testosterone in women hasn’t been conclusively defined. However, some women with low testosterone levels have found testosterone therapy effective at restoring sexual desire (Davis, 2016).

Women can also suffer from hyperandrogenism, where testosterone or other androgen levels are too high. Hyperandrogenism has several potential causes, including (Rasquin, 2021):

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Late-onset congenital adrenal hyperplasia
  • Ovarian or adrenal tumors
  • Cushing syndrome
  • Certain medications
  • Idiopathic hyperandrogenism (no known cause)

Symptoms of low testosterone in men

For men, the symptoms of low testosterone can include (Sizar, 2021): 

Low T is more common as men get older. Testosterone levels fall about 1–2% a year, starting around age 40 (Miah, 2019)

Symptoms of low testosterone in women

For women, the symptoms of low testosterone can include (Wierman, 2014):

Low testosterone hasn’t been thoroughly studied in women, so it’s unclear how many women experience low T (Davis, 2016).

Symptoms of high testosterone in men

High testosterone levels don’t usually happen naturally; if they do, it’s rare. In men, the most common cause of high testosterone is abusing anabolic steroids or taking too much testosterone prescribed by a healthcare provider. Symptoms of high testosterone include (Ganesan, 2021):

Symptoms of high testosterone in women

In women, high testosterone levels are most commonly caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which occurs in up to 12% of women and is the most common female hormone disorder. Signs of hyperandrogenism in women include (Rasquin, 2021):

  • Irregular periods
  • Hair loss on the scalp
  • Excess facial and body hair (hirsutism)
  • Acne
  • Deepening of the voice, growth of the larynx (or Adam’s apple), and clitoral enlargement—these symptoms may also indicate a tumor and should be investigated immediately.

High or low testosterone levels can cause frustrating symptoms. Fortunately, there are many options available to test your testosterone levels. Whether you use an at-home testosterone test kit or visit a healthcare facility to test your hormone levels, a healthcare provider can help you develop a treatment plan to address your symptoms. 

References

  1. Adebero, T., McKinlay, B. J., Theocharidis, A., et al. (2020). Salivary and serum concentrations of cortisol and testosterone at rest and in response to intense exercise in boys versus men. Pediatric Exercise Science, 32(2), 65–72. doi:10.1123/pes.2019-0091. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31770720/
  2. Arregger, A. L., Contreras, L. N., Tumilasci, O. R., et al. (2007). Salivary testosterone: a reliable approach to the diagnosis of male hypogonadism. Clinical Endocrinology, 67(5), 656–662. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2265.2007.02937.x. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17953627
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Felix Gussone is a physician, health journalist and a Manager, Medical Content & Education at Ro.