What is Low Testosterone?

What is Low Testosterone?

Wondering what is low testosterone considered? Testosterone is a hormone that helps regulate many bodily functions, but it can also cause adverse side effects when levels are too low.

Table of Contents

What is Testosterone?

Testosterone is a hormone found in both males and females. In healthy males, testosterone is found at a concentration range of 270 ng/dL-1070n g/dL.1 Healthy testosterone levels for females should be anywhere from 15 ng/dL-70 ng/dL.1 Testosterone production occurs in the Leydig cells of the testes.2 Read on if you are looking to answer the question, “what is considered low testosterone?”

What is Considered Low Testosterone

What is Testosterone’s Function?

In males, testosterone is an essential component of the development of primary sexual functions and characteristics, including the descent of the testicles, enlargement of the penis and testes, and development of libido. Later in life, the role of testosterone is to regulate secondary male sex characteristics that are associated with masculinity.3

So, what is considered low testosterone?

Overview of Testosterone

Is Testosterone a Steroid?

Testosterone can also be an anabolic steroid, which is a synthetically derived version of testosterone as opposed to the naturally produced version.4 Steroids generally have a bad reputation, due to how they are portrayed in the media. However, anabolic steroids that are used appropriately are safe and medically supported. Testosterone that is used as prescribed is an effective treatment for hormone deficiencies in men, delayed puberty, and muscle loss for certain conditions.4

When testosterone is used for any reason that is not medically supported, it is considered anabolic steroid misuse.4 Situations of steroid misuse are both illegal and dangerous for the individual. To ensure appropriate usage, patients considering testosterone treatment should speak with a medical professional to determine the testosterone dosage and treatment plan that will work for their situation.

Read on to learn what is considered low testosterone.

What Does Testosterone Do?

Testosterone function is essential for primary sexual development in babies and for the regulation of secondary male sex characteristics during puberty and throughout adulthood.

Testosterone and Fetal Development

The role of testosterone in healthy male development starts in the womb. At around 7 weeks of fetal development, testicle development is initiated by the sex-related gene on the Y chromosome. Leydig cells and endothelial cells move into the testicles and begin to produce testosterone.5 This early testosterone production supports the development of the male urogenital tract and the formation of the prostate and external genitalia.
Then, the testes descend into the scrotum and begin to secrete higher concentrations of testosterone. Additional roles of testosterone in sexual development include initiation of spermatogenesis and enlargement of the penis and testes.5

Testosterone and Puberty

During puberty, testosterone function plays a role in the development and regulation of secondary male sex characteristics. These are the characteristics associated with masculinity and include male hair patterns, vocal changes, voice deepening, growth spurts, and skeletal muscle growth. Normal concentrations of testosterone in puberty are important for proper development.5


In adulthood, the purpose of testosterone is to regulate libido, help with the production of red blood cells and sperm, and maintain bone and muscle mass.6 Healthy testosterone function continues to support sexual function and masculine behaviors. When testosterone levels exceed or fall below the normal range, patients may experience undesirable effects, such as the symptoms of hypogonadism.

Read on to learn what is considered low testosterone.

Effects of TRT Report

How Are Testosterone Levels Controlled?

Testosterone production is controlled by the pituitary gland at the base of the brain. The pituitary gland receives signals from the brain to increase or decrease testosterone production and then relays these signals to the testes.7

But what is considered low testosterone?

Normal Testosterone Levels for Men By Age

When it comes to considered what low testosterone is, one has to take age into account. The average levels of testosterone for men by age are:8

  • Males 20-24 years old: concentrations greater than 409 ng/dL
  • Males 25-29 years old: concentrations greater than 413 ng/dL
  • Males 30-34 years old: concentrations greater than 359 ng/dL
  • Males 35-39 years old: concentrations greater than 352 ng/dL
  • Males 40-44 years old: concentrations greater than 350 ng/dL

These levels may vary somewhat from person to person, meaning what is considered low testosterone will vary based on age. Maintaining testosterone levels within a healthy range as men continue to age is essential for continued healthy body function. Having high or low levels of testosterone can impact men in many ways, including affecting libido and overall energy levels.

What Tests MeasureTestosterone Levels?

What is considered low testosterone and how do you test it? There are many different tests that can measure what is considered low testosterone levels in the body, including:

Total Testosterone Blood Test

The total testosterone blood test measures the concentration of both free testosterone and testosterone that is bound to proteins in the blood.9

Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG)

Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) is a protein that binds to sex hormones in both men and women. SHBG measures how much testosterone is transported to tissues in the body.10

Free Testosterone

The free testosterone test measures testosterone in its active form.9

Free Testosterone vs. Bioavailable Testosterone

Want to figure out what is considered low testosterone and how you can test for it? Free testosterone is the testosterone in the body that is not bound to proteins. Bioavailable testosterone refers to both free testosterone and testosterone bound to the protein albumin.11

Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) Blood Test

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is produced by the pituitary gland and is used by the body for sexual development and function. It also helps to control the production of sperm in men. FSH is a helpful blood test for hypogonadal men because it can be used to determine if there is a problem with the testicles.12

Luteinizing Hormone (LH) Blood Test

Luteinizing hormone (LH) in males causes the testicles to produce testosterone. LH is often tested in combination with FSH.13
TDT Report

What Are the Causes of High Testosterone?

High testosterone levels are caused by conditions that increase the production of testosterone in the body. These conditions include polycystic ovarian syndrome, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, ovarian or testicular tumors, and adrenal tumors.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) affects 4%-12% of women of reproductive age.14 A hallmark of PCOS is hyperandrogenism, or elevated testosterone levels, caused by a disruption of normal ovarian function. Elevated testosterone female levels in PCOS appear with the symptoms of acne, weight gain, menstrual irregularities, and hirsutism.15

Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH)

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is a genetic disorder that affects the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands produce several hormones, including cortisol, mineralocorticoids, and androgens, such as testosterone.16 CAH is generally defined as classic CAH or non-classic CAH. In classic CAH, excess levels of androgen may be present. Excess testosterone production as caused by CAH may present as short height and early puberty in both males and females.16

A Deeper Understanding of Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia

Ovarian or Testicular Tumors

Testosterone levels that far exceed the healthy range may be caused by ovarian or testicular tumors.3 However, androgen-secreting ovarian or testicular tumors are rare. About 1%-1.5% of all tumors in men are testicular tumors, and only a small portion of these will secrete excess testosterone.17

Adrenal Tumors

Androgen-secreting adrenal tumors are also rare.18 In patients diagnosed with an androgen-secreting adrenal tumor, testosterone levels may exceed the healthy range.

What Happens When Testosterone Levels are Too Low?

When men’s testosterone levels fall below the healthy range, they will begin to experience the symptoms of testosterone deficiency. Notable symptoms include erectile dysfunction, fatigue, and moodiness. Clinically significant low testosterone requires the measurement of serum testosterone less than 300 ng/dL in combination with the symptoms of hypogonadism.

Low Testosterone in Fetal Development

What is considered low testosterone when it comes to fetal development? Low testosterone in fetal development will lead to poor development of primary sex characteristics. Features may include small testes and a small phallus. After birth and in the pre-pubertal years, the features of low testosterone may include gynecomastia, difficulty gaining muscle mass, and low energy.3

Low Testosterone in Puberty

When it comes to puberty, what is considered low testosterone levels than normal?

Healthy testosterone levels in adolescents are necessary for puberty. In adolescents with delayed puberty, primary and secondary hypogonadism explain less than 20% of cases.19 The features of low testosterone in puberty and after puberty may include small testes, small phallus, gynecomastia, low sperm count, low energy, and decreased secondary sex characteristics (such as facial or axillary hair).3

Low Testosterone in Adults

In adulthood, it is essential to learn what is considered low testosterone. Hypogonadism is very common in adult males. Between 10-40% of men internationally have been diagnosed with testosterone deficiency.20 In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that four to five million men are affected by hypogonadism.21

The high rates of hypogonadism are attributed to the natural decline of testosterone in aging men. After the age of 40, total testosterone concentrations decrease by about 1.6% each year.22Hypogonadism is diagnosed when men have a serum testosterone concentration of less than 300 ng/dL while experiencing the symptoms of testosterone deficiency.23

Signs of Testosterone Deficiency

Learn the signs of what is considered low testosterone. Some common signs of testosterone deficiency include:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Decreased body hair
  • Fatigue
  • Infertility
  • Moodiness
  • Thinning bones (osteoporosis)
  • Weight gain

Treatment for Balancing Testosterone Levels

Looking to answer what is considered low testosterone and how to treat low T levels? There are many treatments besides TRT that advertise ways to get testosterone levels back to normal. However, it is important that patients select a method that has been proven to produce the desired treatment results.

Other Testosterone Supplements

Testosterone boosting supplements have been sold under the claim that they will boost testosterone levels, improve libido, and help patients feel stronger. However, only 24.8% of 109 common supplements sold as “testosterone boosters” have data to support increases in testosterone concentrations.24 Additionally, for 55.5% of the 24.8%, there is conflicting data to support no change or a decrease in testosterone concentration associated with the use of the supplement.24
Alarmingly, 10.1% of 109 common “testosterone booster” supplements have data supporting a decrease in testosterone concentrations.24 The bottom line is that testosterone supplements are not an adequate method for treating testosterone deficiency. Patients who wish to treat their hypogonadism should seek out methods that have proven results, such as testosterone replacement therapy.

Testosterone Replacement Therapy

Testosterone replacement therapy, or TRT, is a treatment for the symptoms of hypogonadism. TRT provides the body with an external source of testosterone to bring testosterone concentrations into the healthy range. There are several studies that have proven the ability of TRT to raise testosterone concentrations. In a systematic review of 57 TRT treatment studies varying from 12 weeks to 36 months, it was found that 92.8% of treatments raised total testosterone concentrations above 346 ng/dL.25

In a study of the health related quality of life measures in men undergoing TRT, it was found that total testosterone concentrations increased from 223 ng/dL to 482 ng/dL after 3 months of treatment.26 In the same study, 63 months of treatment yielded testosterone concentrations of 539 ng/dL.

What Are the Benefits of Testosterone Testing and Treatment?

Men who are diagnosed as hypogonadal will have the option to undergo testosterone treatment in order to help bring their levels back up to normal.

Get Answers

Trying to figure out what is considered low testosterone and how to treat it?

One of the first benefits of testosterone testing is that patients will finally receive an answer for the symptoms they have been experiencing. Low libido, decreased energy, and moodiness can leave a person feeling frustrated and lonely. While being diagnosed with hypogonadism may feel challenging, the good news is that hypogonadal patients will have the opportunity to treat their symptoms and start to feel like themselves again.

Enjoy Better Health

The benefits of testosterone therapy are numerous. Evidence based benefits of TRT include improved libido and erectile function, improved mood and energy, and improved muscle mass and strength to name a few.25

Better Mental Health

One of the health benefits of testosterone replacement therapy is improved cognitive function. A study of 54 men taking TRT for 8 months saw significant improvements to cognitive function if they were experiencing cognitive impairment prior to the start of treatment.27

Better Sexual Health

Testosterone replacement therapy has been proven to improve libido and erectile function in hypogonadal patients.28 In the Testosterone Trials, a comprehensive series of studies to evaluate the effects of testosterone treatment, it was found that 20% of men in the testosterone-treatment study group reported having sexual desire that was “much better” than it was prior to treatment.29A survey of 105 men taking TRT found that 41.9% of patients experienced improved libido after 3 months of treatment.30Given that sexual health is one of the chief concerns associated with hypogonadism, the improvements to libido and sexual function provided by TRT are substantial.

Better Physical Health

Testosterone’s effect on the body has been proven to increase lean muscle mass, decrease fat mass, and increase bone density and strength. In a review of multiple studies on the impacts of TRT on patient strength, it was found that lower extremity strength increased by more than 10% in patients receiving intramuscular injections of testosterone.31In a study on improvements to bone strength following testosterone treatment for 12 months, it was found that spine trabecular bone strength also improved by an estimated 10.8%.32

Better Emotional Health

Testosterone replacement therapy may help to stabilize mood swings associated with testosterone deficiency. In the Testosterone Trials, it was found that TRT could provide small improvements to the moods of hypogonadal patients.29Testosterone replacement therapy is also proven to help with depression that has been specifically caused by hypogonadism.

A meta-analysis of TRT’s effect on patient management of major depressive disorder found that TRT had a significant positive effect in patients diagnosed with both major depressive disorder and hypogonadism.33

Take Charge Again

After receiving TRT treatment, patients will be equipped to make positive changes in all aspects of their lives. Patients who are physically, mentally, and emotionally healthier will emerge from TRT treatment with a renewed sense of confidence and an improved quality of life. However, it’s important to note that it takes between 6-12 months to feel the maximum effects of the cycle of testosterone treatment.34
What is Considered Low Testosterone

Natural Ways to Increase Testosterone to Increase Testosterone

There are some natural ways that patients can increase their testosterone levels. However, evidence does not support that these methods will lead to significant increases.

Exercising Regularly

Evidence supports that increasing exercise is linked to increased serum testosterone levels.35It is unknown if exercise will maintain elevated testosterone levels in the long-term. Patients will likely need to engage in regular exercise to experience the benefits of elevated testosterone levels.

Changing Your Diet

Choosing a well-balanced diet is one of the best ways to work to improve our overall health. Specific adjustments can be made to dietary choices in order to elevate testosterone concentrations in the body.
A study of 3,128 men found that low fat diets were associated with lower serum testosterone levels.36Balancing a diet with healthy fats and carbohydrates may help to manage low testosterone levels. The ketogenic diet is not appropriate for every patient, but it has been shown to drastically raise total testosterone concentrations.37

Lowering Stress Levels

Stress levels and testosterone levels are closely related. Increased stress inhibits testosterone-biosynthetic enzyme activity, which decreases the amount of testosterone secreted in the body.38This inverse relationship between stress and testosterone concentration indicates that lower stress levels will allow testosterone to be secreted at a natural rate.

Get Help for Testosterone Imbalance at Immortal Male

Are you looking to learn more about what is considered low testosterone and how to get started on treatment?

Immortal Male is a premier testosterone replacement therapy center. The TRT program offered by Immortal Male is designed to assist patients with achieving healthy testosterone levels. It also works to address other common concerns, such as hair loss or high cholesterol.

Immortal Male places patient health and comfort first and foremost. Patients will find that they are in the care of a highly educated team prepared to answer any of the questions that arise during the treatment process. Call us today to learn what is considered low testosterone and how you can overcome these issues.


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Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism

Stephanie T. Page, John K. Amory, F. DuBois Bowman, Bradley D. Anawalt, Alvin M. Matsumoto, William J. Bremner, J. Lisa Tenover, Exogenous Testosterone (T) Alone or with Finasteride Increases Physical Performance, Grip Strength, and Lean Body Mass in Older Men with Low Serum T, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 90, Issue 3, 1 March 2005, Pages 1502–1510, https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2004-1933B)