Stop your Netflix binge-watching session.
Trust me, you’ll love what you are about to read.
Plus it’s gonna be SUPER helpful if you are thinking about getting on the test train.
Read it and if you don’t understand it, read it again. And again. And come back to it later.
After you internalize this guide, you may never have to read another bogus article on testosterone again…unless new research comes out, then you might wanna catch up.
The thing with testosterone therapy is that it’s getting a lot of love and hate at the same time.
Both research and anecdotal stories of individuals users are wishy washy.
That being said, you should always remember that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
…What the hell does that mean?
It means that any smart user of testosterone (and any other form of supplementation for that matter) considers all available forms of evidence, not just what has or has not been published and is considered the truth.
Listen to your body and your intuition first is what I am basically saying.
Let’s get into it.
How To Measure Testosterone Levels And Where To Test
Reading about the confusing world of measuring testosterone will make you pull out your hair and go crazy, so I’ll keep it short and crispy.
There are three ways to test your testosterone levels: saliva sample, urine sample, and blood sample. Each method has its pros and cons.
Saliva and Urine tests are very cheap, but inaccurate. That’s it.
Hence doctors don’t recommend these tests to check your T levels.
Blood tests are much more accurate, but also more expensive.
If you want to test your total testosterone, 2 methods are go-to: ECLIA method and LC/MC Method.
Without getting too sciencey, the ECLIA method is a fast and affordable method used by most labs. However, the values often tend to be higher than in the LC/MC method.
LC/MS is short for liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. This is considered the gold standard under doctors, but the results take longer to come back to you.
If you want to measure free testosterone, you can do RIA Direct testing. It’s a very cheap method and used by most labs, but its effectiveness has recently been called into question.
Equilibrium Ultrafiltration is a more accurate way, but most labs don’t use this method, because it’s expensive, time-consuming and requires well-trained technicians.
You can also calculate it using your values for albumin, SHBG and total testosterone. However, it’s not going to be very accurate and requires you to pay for three different tests.
As to WHERE to get tested, ask your doc first. Insurance might cover it.
Most likely though you will have to pay it yourself.
First, you can order the test. For example, Health Testing Center offers Testosterone kits you can buy for a little over a $100.
You will also be told what local lab to go to that can do further testing and consult you on your results. LabCorp is one example, another one is Ageless Men’s Health that does the testing and gives you testosterone shots as well.
You should definitely test your testosterone more than once.
Your levels can vary by time and day, so it’s beneficial to have more results to work with…and also to analyze them better, which is gonna be the next thing I am addressing.
Do You Even Read Your Test Results, Bro?
I don’t think science is paying enough credit to HOW TO ACTUALLY READ THE DAMN TEST RESULTS & ANALYZE THEM.
Let’s look at an example.
Like a real life example, not just some Average Peter Joe Schmuck.
In fact, let me show you the test results of a friend of mine after he got his test checked. The results returned as follows:
So you just got your result back and your T is at 492 ng/DL which is considered “normal”, but right off the bat, you can see it’s in the lower range.
That reference range labs use consists of a wide variety of men who tested for testosterone:
…80-year-old men and 20-year-old men
…obese men and super fit men
…men with pituitary gland problems and men with glands that work like champs.
You can see how age ranges would be good to have, right? We’ll get to it in a bit.
So after you get your test results, you breathe a sigh of relief and give your balls a high-five for a job well done in kicking out a “normal” reading.
Truth be told, this number really means nothing. Nada.
Blood values of testosterone vary by the minute and the day.
And if your doctor tells you otherwise and urges you to JUST rely on that general number, he or she is just being lazy and does not want to do the right job of finding the most accurate meaning to your results.
Next, you got that number at the bottom, the steroid hormone binding globulin, or SHBG.
It binds about 60% of your testosterone and makes it unavailable for further use.
The more SHBG you have, the less free testosterone you have that can be used for all the sexy stuff.
You also got your estradiol levels (estrogen, the “anti” man hormone) checked that will determine if your test is used properly and can potentially thwart the effects of testosterone in your body.
What really matters is that you should have a good idea of what your total test level is (in the example above, it’s 492), your “free” testosterone and your “bioavailable” testosterone. 3 Different things.
About 30% of your testosterone is bound to another protein called albumin. So that’s unavailable as well.
A small percentage (on average about 4%) of all your testosterone circulates as free testosterone. Free testosterone plus the testosterone bound to albumin is the bioavailable testosterone, which can act on target tissues.
Briefly, how do you get to these numbers?
The math on the backend is too complicated, so I’ll just save you a headache.
If you go to the following link and input your values, you will get free and bioavailable testosterone including explanations of the math behind it:
Free & Bioavailable Testosterone calculator
When determining what’s considered a normal testosterone level, it’s best to look at what the reference range is for men your age.
Unfortunately, many labs don’t break down reference ranges by age. However, studies have been done in which researchers do just that. Below, I include the results from two such studies, the first one being from a 1996 study published in the “Androgens and the Aging Male”.
|Age||# Subjects||Total Test||Std Dev||Free Test||Std Dev||SHBG||Std Dev|
I know we are getting very detailed here but bear with me.
It is important to understand age range differences and not just go by your doc’s lab books.
According to the chart above, my friend’s total T value of 492 came close to an average number for a 75-84 year-old…and my friend is not that old. He is 24.
The next chart shows the T levels of men in the bottom five and ten percentiles as well as the T levels of the men in the top 95%.
According to this chart, the T value of 492 was near the bottom 10% of almost all age groups.
Is this a normal value? No.
So you can see how looking at these age range charts you will get a better understanding of your own results. Use them wisely.
|Age||# of Subjects||Mean Total Test||Std Dev||Median Total Test||5th %||10th %||95th %|
What Are Your Choices For T Replacement?
Now you know where to get tested & how to analyze your results.
The next question for you will be how to take it.
Though there are a few options, we believe that by far the best option is the injection.
If properly administered, they are quick, relatively painless, and you get the most hormonal bang for your buck.
In America, you have two injectable choices: testosterone enanthate and testosterone cypionate.
The way these molecules break down in your body differs slightly, but it’s not that big of a deal if your schedule and injection are on point.
For most men, 100mg a week of either testosterone is enough. However, some men need less and some men need more, possibly up to 250 mg a week.
Beyond that amount, you are starting to get into legit bodybuilding meathead cycles.
For example, my friend with the results above got started on a 250 mg/week cycle through Ageless Men’s Health and got re-tested after 90 days.
Some men split their weekly injection into two to experience that testosterone peak throughout the week and keep their blood levels of testosterone fairly stable.
You also might want to consider subcutaneous injections rather than intramuscular injections….which means that you apply the injection right under your skin as opposed to straight into your muscle.
If you inject it under your skin, it’s faster and less painful (at least for me). All you do is take a pinch of skin on your glute, thigh, or even belly, and inject a tiny needle into the fold at either a 45-degree angle, press and release the skin.
Simple as that!
Testosterone gels have recently gained more popularity, but they have their drawbacks. You must apply them daily, on freshly showered skin and you have to refrain from swimming and such.
Pretty annoying if you ask me.
In short, just about everything else (pills, pellets, etc..) is not as effective as injections or gels, and you should not consider those options.
Do Your Balls Shrink To The Size Of Peanuts When Injecting Testosterone?
That’s the most common fear and in many cases true.
Your body thinks it does not have to produce testosterone anymore, so your sperm count might go down…if you don’t add HCG, human chorionic gonadotropin, to your repertoire.
HCG mimics LH, luteinizing hormone that tells your two brothers – and by that I mean your balls – to produce testosterone.
HCG is administered subcutaneously via an insulin needle, usually at 250 or 500 UI twice a week.
Advantages – And Side Effects – To TRT
As with any therapy – or really anything in life – the benefits won’t kick in after the first night. Here is a list of benefits, some of which you should experience as well:
- Your sex drive should go up significantly after about 3 weeks
- You might also start feeling less depressed and more motivated after a week or two.
- Insulin sensitivity starts to increase in a few days, becoming evident – less body fat – in 3 – 12 months.
- You will generally feel less anxious and more sociable in about two weeks. That’s how long it approximately takes for your prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain that controls attention and other complex tasks) to be stimulated.
A lot of people complain about the side effects of TRT – most of which are not true.
First and foremost, TRT DOES NOT CAUSE prostate cancer.
Researchers have compiled thousands of papers and case studies and determined that there is no link UNLESS you had prostate cancer before you started TRT. In that case, TRT seems to amplify cancer for unknown reasons.
Another side effect is polycythemia, the increased production of red blood cells in your body & thickening of your blood.
This can potentially cause heart attacks and strokes.
So you need to be in check of your hemoglobin and hematocrit values. If hemoglobin exceeds 18.0, or hematocrit exceeds approximately 50.0, you need to change something: change your dose of testosterone, or donate some blood to the red cross.
You also won’t grow boobs when you get on TRT. Gynecomastia is very rare and becomes a problem only in bodybuilders who take more than 1000 mg to 3000 mg a week…freakishly high numbers you should not consider.
Besides that, all other claims are simply wrong. Men with low testosterone are often prone to a variety of other dangerous conditions.
For many men, TRT can be the gateway to the “good life” (Tai Lopez voice). If you are feeling depressed, lack motivation, lost your edge that your wife or girlfriend claim you once had, TRT might be an option.
However, you should first check your blood work and symptoms to see if you are really in need of it.
Needless to say, a testosterone-healthy lifestyle is a MUST if you are thinking long term.
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