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2023-10-23 22:03:40

Testosterone Levels by Age: What Does the Hormone Do?

You're likely somewhat familiar with testosterone, the male sex hormone. (Females have testosterone too, though!) Healthy testosterone levels are important for building and maintaining muscle mass, sperm production, bone density, hair growth, sex drive, and living an overall healthy lifestyle.

How do testosterone levels change as men get older? What can happen as a result?

Let's dive in!

man doing back squats in the gym

Testosterone Levels by Age

Keeping in mind that the "normal" range of testosterone levels by age can vary among individuals, and they also vary by age, the American Urological Association agrees that the range is 300-1000 ng/dL with <300 ng/dL as the general cutoff for low testosterone.

What Impact Do These Testosterone Levels Have?

You might notice a steep increase in testosterone levels between 15 and 18 years of age, which is when testosterone levels peak. What else is happening during that time?


This is when boys get a deeper voice, body and facial hair growth, a boost in sex drive, and increased muscle mass.

These changes typically begin to slow down around 19 years of age, when testosterone levels drop and then stabilize a bit more.

group of men in the mountains

How Does the Body Produce Testosterone?

In men, it's mostly the testicles that produce testosterone. And in women, the ovaries produce testosterone. (More on the ladies in a little bit!)

Your adrenal glands also contribute, although indirectly. More specifically, the adrenal glands make a hormone called dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and your body turns that into testosterone and estrogen.

What Happens if You Have Low Testosterone?

What if someone is experiencing low testosterone levels?

While the signs of low testosterone (also called male hypogonadism) will vary based on the man's age, common symptoms include reduced sex drive, loss of hair, fatigue, loss of muscle mass, weight gain, and even depression.

A normal testosterone level is important to avoid dangerous symptoms

What Happens if You Have High Testosterone?

Remember, more isn't always better, and that's certainly the case with testosterone.

When a man has high testosterone levels, he might experience acne, aggression, headaches, high blood pressure, an increased sex drive, a bigger appetite, and other symptoms.

Confirm Your Testosterone Levels with a Blood Test

While it helps to know the symptoms of abnormal testosterone levels by age, the only way to truly confirm what your testosterone levels are is through bloodwork.

For instance, eNational Testing's Men's Anti-Aging Hormone Panel checks your free testosterone, total testosterone, FSH, LH, and your free and total prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Assessing the levels of these hormones can give a better sense of what is causing lower-than-normal testosterone levels.

Additionally, the Standard Men's Health Panel checks your total testosterone, as does the Complete Men's Health Panel.

Checking Your Testosterone Levels with eNational Testing

Ordering your testosterone blood test with eNational Testing is easy — you can do it online in just a few clicks. You don't even need to see your doctor first.

If you think you might not have normal testosterone levels, find a testing center near you and order your test. We have more than 2,000 locations nationwide.

After receiving your test results, if your testosterone levels are not in the normal range, you'll have the opportunity to follow up with a clinician and discuss the next steps.

What Causes Too Much Testosterone (or Testosterone Deficiency)?

High testosterone levels in men commonly happen as a result of anabolic steroid use.

Low T can happen due to obesity, certain chronic medical conditions, poorly managed type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, and — very commonly — getting older. This is why some older men opt for testosterone therapy to help them get back into a normal range.

In addition, certain disorders of the pituitary gland can negatively impact the release of hormones from the gland, ultimately leading to low T.

How Can You Achieve Normal Testosterone Levels?

If you're displaying low or high testosterone levels and want to balance them out, the first step is to evaluate your lifestyle habits.

Changing your diet, drinking less alcohol, moving your body more, quitting smoking, and finding healthier ways to manage stress might all equate to more stable testosterone production.

For example, certain foods might help you reduce excess testosterone, including mint, licorice root, and flaxseed.

mint might cause low testosterone levels

Of course, if you're already experiencing low testosterone levels, you should avoid consuming these foods!

Supplementation might be able to help, too. There is research suggesting that ashwagandha can boost testosterone levels. (Learn more about the relationship between testosterone and ashwagandha.)

Strength training, in particular, can be good for increasing low testosterone levels — although the impact is temporary (as are most benefits that exercise offers, which is why we need to do it regularly).

When Lifestyle Habits Aren't Enough

So, you're following healthy habits and your testosterone levels still aren't behaving? Your healthcare provider might recommend hormone replacement therapy.

Testosterone replacement therapy can be done via injections, patches, or gels. If you're experiencing symptoms of low testosterone levels, testosterone replacement therapy essentially fills in the gaps to support your hormone levels.

Women Have Testosterone Too!

We've focused almost entirely on men because testosterone is the male sex hormone.

However, women produce testosterone too.

In fact, perhaps surprisingly, while women have more estrogen than men do, they have more testosterone in their bodies than they do estrogen!

Women need testosterone to promote bone density and muscle growth. It also plays a role in mood, sexual function, and energy.

If a woman's testosterone levels are outside the desired range, she might experience fertility problems, weak bones, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and other health problems.

An abnormal testosterone level in women can lead to health conditions like fertility issues

Achieving Normal Testosterone Levels

Every hormone in your body plays a very specific and important role.

Achieving average testosterone levels is important not just for your sex drive and muscle mass but for maintaining your overall health.

Ready to kick your symptoms to the curb and get your testosterone back to a normal range? Find a testing center and order your test today!