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Male Hormone Testing

Why should you test your testosterone levels?

Testosterone is the key male hormone. It is vital to the development and maintenance of male sexual characteristics and function. Normal active blood testosterone levels help to maintain sex drive and fertility in healthy men. Research shows it even helps maintain psychological health.

Testosterone is increasingly being recognised as important to a wide range of health related areas. This includes contributing to maintaining healthy and active energy levels and bone and muscle mass.

If your blood testosterone levels fall or the testosterone in your body is no longer as active as it was (low T), you may start suffering from what many people call the male menopause, andropause, or as the Centre for Men’s Health refers to it, Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome. 

What are the symptoms of low testosterone?

If you do have low T, you may find you are suffering from symptoms. The list includes: 

Find out more about the signs of Low T here. You can take a free questionnaire test to see if you have the symptoms of the male menopause/testosterone deficiency.

Which markers are included in our male hormone blood test?

The Centre for Men’s Health offers a full Male Health Check. This includes a broad blood test, featuring full profile of 46 markers covering liver and kidney function, lipids and full blood count, TSH, FSH and LH, as well as prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and a testosterone test.  A raised PSA can be an indicator of possible prostate cancer and checking its level with a blood test is essential before patients can proceed to testosterone replacement therapy.  

Some of the most important male hormone measures included in the full panel blood test are:

Total testosterone measures the total level of this male hormone in your blood. Low testosterone (low T) can lead to the symptoms of the male menopause or testosterone deficiency syndrome. 

The full profile blood test at our UK clinics also includes SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin), a type of protein in your blood, because it binds to androgens, including testosterone, and inhibits their function in the body. Some 50-60% of testosterone is strongly bound in this way. As men get older, the level of SHBG in their blood tends to rise, and this can be one of the factors resulting in testosterone deficiency.

Albumin is another type of protein in your blood that also binds between 40-50% of total testosterone in circulation, albeit more weakly. 

The blood test also includes a calculation of what is called free testosterone, which is the remainder of the male hormone not bound by either SHBG or albumin, and accounts for only 1-3% of the testosterone in your blood.

In addition, the blood test measures Oestradiol, one of the two main forms of the hormone oestrogen in men, is essential in modulating libido, erectile function and spermatogenesis (the origin and development of sperm cells). High oestrogen in men can lead to symptoms including infertility, gynaecomastia (‘man boobs’) and erectile dysfunction (ED).

How to test testosterone levels

For a full blood profile, including a testosterone test, a venous blood sample is required. This means your blood has to be taken by a qualified phlebotomist in our London TRT UK clinic.

Alternatively a blood sample kit can be sent out to you at home and you can use this to have your blood taken at a chain of partner clinics across the UK. Many of our patients find these are very convenient ways of taking their testosterone test.

You will need to be fasting when the sample is taken to ensure an accurate measure of your testosterone levels. By fasting, we mean you should not eat or drink anything apart from water from when you go to bed the night before until your blood sample is taken the next day.

Why do your testosterone blood test with the Centre for Men’s Health?

The Centre for Men’s Health has been diagnosing and providing private treatment to men across the UK for low testosterone (low T) for 30 years and our team of expert doctors has significant experience in the field. 

What are low testosterone levels?

This is a complex question because most testosterone is not “free” and so available for use by the body and there is no single threshold below which symptoms start to appear. You can find out more here.

What can I do if my blood test shows I have low testosterone?

If your male hormone panel blood test indicates you are suffering from low testosterone, the doctor will also check whether you are suffering symptoms of the male menopause or testosterone deficiency syndrome. Once he has confirmed it is safe for you to proceed with treatment, it is likely he will recommend an initial trial course of TRT to treat your low T symptoms.

Is finger-prick blood testing just as good as venous blood (from a vein)?

In theory, finger-prick blood testing, done by the patient in their own home at a time that suits them and sent off by post should be simple and easy. But there are hidden complications that mean the results you receive from finger-prick testing might not be accurate. In the worst case, the lab won’t be able to use your sample and you have to repeat the process.

The first problem lies in actually drawing the blood. In order to ensure enough blood is taken, it is advisable to:

As you can see, there are quite a few things to remember to get it right.

And even once you have taken the sample, other problems can occur. The blood sample can clot, or coagulate. This happens as a result of the body’s natural mechanism to prevent excessive bleeding, but it can cause blood sample errors. It can occur because either you have taken too long to collect your sample or because you haven’t mixed it fully after collecting it.

You can also have what is called a haemolysed sample, where red blood cells have burst and the haemoglobin (the protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen to the body) has leaked into the rest of the sample. This may occur as a result of squeezing your finger too much as you take the sample or scraping it against the side of the sample tube.

Finally, if you do not take a large enough sample it will be insufficient for the lab to obtain enough serum (liquid) to test.

While capillary blood may be suitable for accurate testing under ideal circumstances, there are many factors that can interfere with this. On the other hand, venous blood, with a sample being taken by a phlebotomist in a clinic or at home is much less likely to suffer from these problems and is generally more reliable in producing accurate blood test results.

Links:

WHO Guidelines on Drawing Blood: Best Practices in Phlebotomy.

Hematology.org. 2022. Blood Clots.

Should I take my testosterone test blood sample at home or have it done for me in a clinic?

Finger prick testing where the patient collects a blood sample at home to be sent off directly to the lab only works well if the patient has a good capillary blood supply which does not clot rapidly. However, practical problems in taking the sample this way can lead to inaccurate test results. Venous blood samples, where a trained phlebotomist draws blood from the patient in a clinic, which is the preferred method at the Centre for Men’s Health, avoid these problems and are generally more likely to produce accurate and reliable test results.