Diagnosing Low Testosterone
Other Tests to Diagnose Low TestosteroneAlthough low testosterone can be diagnosed based on the results of the blood levels alone, your healthcare provider might want to order a few more tests to try to determine the exact cause. This is particularly important in boys or young men, as low testosterone levels are highly unexpected in these age groups.
If possible, the underlying condition should be identified and treated. However, many cases of low testosterone have no identifiable cause. These are known as idiopathic cases.
(Click Causes of Low Testosterone to learn more.)
Some of the other tests used to try to pinpoint the cause of low testosterone might include:
- Semen analysis
- Luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) testing (LH and FSH are hormones released by the pituitary gland that normally stimulate testosterone production in males)
- Prolactin level testing (high prolactin levels can cause low testosterone)
- Chromosome or genetic testing, if a genetic condition is suspected
- Pituitary function testing, if the problem is suspected to occur in the pituitary gland
- A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), if the problem is thought to occur in the pituitary gland or hypothalamus in the brain.
How Not to Diagnose Low Testosterone
Low testosterone should never be diagnosed based on symptoms alone, particularly in older men who may have subtle symptoms that could be caused by completely unrelated factors. The condition should probably not be diagnosed based on the results of saliva testing -- blood testing is a simple, easy, and well-recognized standard.
Some people might argue that low testosterone should not be diagnosed based on the results of one blood test alone, as levels can vary so much; however, a clearly abnormal result is unlikely to change.
Most importantly, you should not self-diagnose low testosterone and treat yourself. This could be potentially dangerous -- too much testosterone can cause a variety of problems, some of which are serious. Making a diagnosis is not difficult, but does require a blood draw and at least one trip to your healthcare provider's office.