Testosterone Levels In Men By Age [Ultimate Guide]
This is the most comprehensive guide to testosterone levels on the entire planet.
In today’s guide, you’ll get answers to questions like:
- What are normal testosterone levels by age?
- What are the signs and symptoms of low (or high) levels of testosterone?
- How can I test my testosterone levels?
In short: if you want to be an expert when it comes to understanding testosterone levels, you’ll love this new guide.
What Is Testosterone?
What is testosterone exactly?
Testosterone is not just a male hormone. It is the male hormone. It’s both an androgen and an anabolic steroid. It is a sex hormone and it helps in the development of male characteristics.
As the saying goes:
Testosterone is what turns boys into men.
Testosterone will literally put hair on your chest, builds bigger muscles, and help you be more of a man.
Just to be clear, both men and women produce and need testosterone, but a grown man’s testosterone levels are typically 7 to 8 times more than adult females.
It turns out, there is much more to testosterone than just any one single measurement.
Testosterone comes in several different types:
- Total testosterone
- Free testosterone
- Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG)
- Albumin Bound
Let’s take a look at each of these different types of testosterone levels:
Total Testosterone Levels
A total testosterone level is an all-inclusive measurement of the hormone testosterone. Typically, total testosterone levels are measured in nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl). It is a sum total of all the other types of testosterone types listed above (i.e. free, SHBG, and albumin).
Total testosterone levels fluctuate significantly over the course of a day. Normal levels of total testosterone can range from 270 ng/dl to 1200 ng/dl (a HUGE range) and they are largely dependent on age.
Normal Levels By Age Chart
Here is a chart showing the range of total testosterone levels as it changes with age based on research
Males Aged 0 - 60 Years Old
|Age||Low (ng/dl)||High (ng/dl)|
Females - Aged 0 - 60 Years Old
|Age||Low (ng/dl)||High (ng/dl)|
|6m-9y||< 7 ng/dl|
Average Male Total Testosterone Levels By Age
The range of total testosterone levels gives us an idea of what’s normal, but it doesn’t paint the entire picture. Let’s look closer by seeing what actual research has shown to be normal averages of total testosterone levels by age.
Here is a chart showing average testosterone levels in men. These are real numbers pulled directly from research studies.
And the same data in a table:
|Age||Average Testosterone Levels|
Here’s the thing:
“Low” total testosterone levels are relative to the individual. One man might be fine at 500 ng/dl while the next man feels like garbage with anything less than 700 ng/dl.
To make matters worse, a “low T level” varies widely across lab tests. I’ve seen various labs consider anything from 220, 240, 270, to 300 ng/dl to be low. Researchers and medical institutions are in disagreement on this one. It can be super confusing.
Total testosterone levels are what most men care about, but it shouldn’t be. Total testosterone levels don’t really mean much when it comes to the way you feel.
Because your body doesn’t care about your total.
What does it care about?
Free Testosterone Levels
The free testosterone lab test can also be called “Free T Index”. It is typically measured in pg/ml. A normal free testosterone level is typically in the range of 1.5% to 2% of total testosterone levels.
Free testosterone is the level of testosterone that is, well, free. It is not attached to anything and this makes it bioavailable for the body. In other words, it is unbound in the blood and ready to be used. Of all the different types of testosterone, this one is the most important.
Your a 50-year-old man and your total testosterone level is 750 ng/dl and your free T level is 225 pg/ml, respectively. Now imagine another 50-year-old male with a total level of 750 ng/dl, but his free testosterone level is 20 pg/ml.
One one hand, both of these men have the same total amount of testosterone at 750 ng/dl which is very good for a 50-year-old guy. On the other hand, I can almost guarantee you that a man (regardless of age) with a free testosterone level of 20 pg/ml is going to have signs and symptoms of low T
The endocrine society has indicated that a large portion of the male population has normal testosterone levels, but sub-optimal free (or bioavailable) testosterone. These men may have signs and symptoms of low T but have a normal testosterone level.
The Range of Normal Free Testosterone Levels
The normal range of free testosterone levels in men ranges from about 30 pg/ml to 200 pg/ml.
Here is a chart showing the spectrum of free testosterone levels from low to high as they change with age:
Normal Male Free T Levels In pg/ml
|Age||Low (pg/ml)||High ( pg/ml)|
Converting Male Free T Levels to ng/dl
Here is the exact same chart as above except for free testosterone levels converted into ng/dl instead of pg/ml:
|Age||Low (ng/dl)||High ( ng/dl)|
Albumin Bound And Bioavailable T Levels
Albumin is a protein in the blood.
It is the most prevalent protein of all proteins in your blood. Roughly 50% of the testosterone in our blood is attached to albumin.
When testosterone is attached to albumin it is technically biologically inactive. That being said, when bound to albumin, the attachment is significantly weaker than when bound to SBGH. Because it is so weakly attached, albumin-bound testosterone is still considered to be bioavailable.
This may seem contradictory, but as research has shown, bioavailable testosterone increases when albumin-bound T increases.
Bioavailable Testosterone in Males
Since albumin takes up such a large percentage of what’s considered to be bioavailable testosterone, I’ve included it here.
Bioavailable testosterone levels are made up of albumin and free testosterone.
Here is a chart of normal bioavailable testosterone levels in men.
|Age||Low (ng/dl)||High ( ng/dl)|
Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG)
I saved this type of testosterone for last because it is the ‘bad guy’.
Unfortunately, a large portion of testosterone in your blood is not bioavailable because it is attached to a protein called sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). Roughly 45% of the total testosterone in your blood is made up of SHBG. The good news is that using the strategies and techniques discussed on AndrogenHacker, you have the ability to decrease SHBG levels.
This ‘binding globulin’ attaches itself to testosterone and then transports it around the body. In doing so, it inhibits the testosterone it is attached to from doing anything.
If your SHBG level is high, your total testosterone level will not accurately reflect how much testosterone is available to your bodies tissues. If it’s low it means that there is more testosterone available to your body.
SHBG is usually high in children and then decreases quickly when a man reaches puberty. After that, as a man starts to get older, the levels of SHBG start to increase gradually. This gradual increase leads to a decrease in free testosterone.
SHBG is often increased in:
- Hypogonadism (Low T)
SHBG is typically measured in nmol/L. SHBG is usually ordered along with other male hormone tests (like total and free testosterone) to evaluate your sex hormones.
Normal SHBG Levels For Males
Men By Age
|Age||Low (nmol/L)||High (nmol/L)|
|18 and >||10||57|
How Can I Tell If I Have A Low Testosterone Level?
Here are the signs and symptoms of a low level of testosterone in your blood:
- This is probably the most common sign of low testosterone.
- Low T gets misdiagnosed for depression very commonly.
- This is the development of breast tissue in men
- Gynecomastia can also be called “man boobs”, “gyno”, or “bitch tits”
- The first sign that this is happening is swollen pecs.
- A low sex drive
- aka lack of interest in sex or a low libido
- Weak bones
- Issues with getting an erection
- aka erectile dysfunction (ED)
- Issues with concentration
- aka brain fog
- Decreased muscle mass
- Decrease in height
- related to weak spinal bones
- Fertility problems
- Low sperm count
- Weak Erections
- Decreased testicle size
- No morning wood
- A decrease in spontaneous erections
- Loss of body hair and a decrease in the frequency of having to shave
Benefits of Normal Testosterone Levels
- Normal blood pressure
- Decreased obesity
- More muscle and strength
- Decreased cardiovascular risk
- Decreases the probability of heart attack
- Better blood lipid profile
- Decreased anxiety
- Deep voice (and more stable)
- Sharper mind
- Stronger Bones
- A more positive outlook on life
- Makes you more assertive
- Gives you a hairy chest
- Bigger penis
- During puberty, the amount of testosterone you have will help to make your penis larger
- Increases the size of your testicles
- Boosts your sex drive
- Makes you more attractive to females
- Increases sperm production
There Is A Downside of Elevated Testosterone
Having high testosterone levels isn’t all cupcakes and rainbows, unfortunately. Once you do optimize your testosterone levels using the techniques talked about on this website, be aware of the dangers of having a high testosterone level.
- More likely to smoke
- Increased risk of injury
- Drink more alcohol
- Increased risk of participation in high-risk activity
- Unprotected sex (with multiple partners)
- Criminal activity
How To Test Your T Levels
The first step in any testosterone optimization journey is knowing your baseline testosterone levels.
There are many options available for testing your T levels.
Go To Your Doctor
Going to your doctor and having blood work done for serum testosterone levels is going to get you the most reliable and accurate results. Blood work is considered the gold standard for measuring testosterone.
If your doc is to make a diagnosis of hypogonadism (aka “low testosterone”), you should expect this blood work.
Be sure to tell your doctor all the medications you are on as some medication can have an effect on testosterone levels.
Examples of medicine that affects testosterone levels:
- Corticosteroids (like prednisone)
Blood and Serum Testosterone Levels
Blood tests are usually done early in the day. Testosterone levels in your blood can vary significantly from day to day, hour to hour, and even minute to minute. The morning time is the optimal time to test testosterone levels for both men and women. Morning is when your testosterone levels are highest.
Remember that testosterone blood levels and serum testosterone levels are the same thing.
Are Saliva Tests Accurate?
There are two studies that test the relationship between blood and saliva testosterone levels.
This first study was carried out on 127 healthy males at Saint Louis University. It found a strong correlation between all forms of serum testosterone and salivary testosterone levels.
This next one was a bit smaller. It was done on 52 men in “good health”. I put quotes around “good health” because 20 of the men had low testosterone. It was done at the University of Buenos Aires in 2007 and just like the above study salivary T levels were very similar to levels of testosterone in the blood.
Testing Testosterone Levels FAQs
Let’s address some common questions about testing testosterone levels:
What Time Of Day Are Testosterone Levels Lowest?
A normal range for testosterone levels is roughly 300-1200 nanograms per deciliter. Your “normal” level might be very different from the next guys, but it’s important to keep in mind that this level can change drastically from day-to-day, hour-to-hour and literally minute-to-minute.
If you have your testosterone level checked after 2 pm, well, it’s probably wrong. After 2 pm is the time of the day that is most likely to end up showing lower testosterone levels.
So, when is it best to measure testosterone?
What Time Is T Highest?
Traditionally, the morning time is usually when T levels are highest. Specifically, 8 am to around 11 am.
This time frame does change with age.
If you are younger than 45, you should have your levels drawn earlier. Draw at around 7 am, if possible. The reason for this being that men of other ages have been proven to have significantly lower levels of testosterone as the day progresses.
On the other hand, if you are 45 or older, you can have your levels drawn anytime before 2 pm without skewing results too much.
When testing testosterone, does it need to be a fasted test?
According to Lab Testing Online it is important that a fasted result be obtained.
It’s not absolutely necessary, but it will give the most accurate result.
What Are Some Related Tests?
- Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)
- Luteinizing hormone (LH)
- Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH)
- Semen analysis
- Pituitary gland
- Prostate specific antigen (PSA)
How Frequently Do I Need To Have My Testosterone Levels Checked?
How often should a man have his testosterone levels tested?
Assuming you don’t have any signs of low T, I recommend that men start getting their testosterone levels checked at minimum once every 5 years starting at age 25.
If you are having signs of low T, then the answer is pretty obvious:
Get your levels checked ASAP.
If it turns out that your testosterone levels are low, then I would at minimum get your levels tested once a year depending on what sort of interventions you decide to do to increase your test.
Testosterone levels are complicated.
There are five different types:
- Bioavailable (a combination of albumin and free testosterone)
For Men, the range of normal total testosterone levels is roughly 300 to 1200 ng/dl depending on age. An “average normal” is somewhere between 500-700 ng/dl which also depends on age. Free testosterone levels range from about 30 pg/ml to 200 pg/ml.
You can learn more about SHBG levels (and how to reduce them) using the link below:
So, what’s next?
So far, you have:
The next step is to start making changes to your lifestyle. There are a handful of factors that have the biggest impact on testosterone.
These ‘biohacking testosterone basics’ are not sexy or revolutionary …
… but they are what actually works.
These are covered in part 4 of this ‘getting started’ series:
David, RN, CCRN