Testosterone Levels: Higher Isn’t Always Better

September 18, 2021

Testosterone levels in men normally slowly decline with age. Levels typically decrease by 1-2% each year beginning at the age of 40. Low testosterone can cause men to have difficulties with erections, low libido, fatigue, mood changes, drops in energy in the afternoons, sleeping problems or difficulty maintaining muscle mass. It can also have an impact on cardiovascular and bone health.

When using medications such as TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) or Clomid (clomiphene citrate) to increase levels to a “normal” range, it is important to stay within a parameter. Labs, doctors and urologists tend to have different ranges indicating “normal,” but most agree that higher ranges don’t mean better results. In fact, they can actually be problematic.

Testosterone levels in healthy males in their teens are usually in the 700 range. For healthy men in their 30s and 40s, levels are typically in the 600 range. Healthy men in their 60s usually have levels in the 500 range and men who are 70+ are typically in the 400 range. Most labs will indicate a “normal range” for testosterone for all men between 350-850, not differentiating in age. However, there is no definitive number within the 350-850 range to indicate symptomatic relief. It’s unique to each patient. On the flip side, it is well-studied that testosterone levels that are too high and out of range (over 900+) can actually cause harm.

Often men think the higher they can get their testosterone, the better they will feel; that it’ll lessen symptoms of low testosterone. This is not accurate. Some men feel a relief in symptoms in the 400 range, whereas others may need to be in the 600s. Once over 900, the risks begin to outweigh any benefits and symptoms may worsen.

Risks of having a testosterone level over 900 includes mood instability (irritability, edginess, aggressiveness), polycythemia (an abnormal increase in red blood cell concentration putting one at higher risk of blood clots and strokes), and an inverse effect on the cardiovascular system (increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes even if healthy). Finally, it can turn the benefit of supplementation on its head by increasing estrogen in the body adversely affecting testosterone levels. 

It’s important to monitor men on testosterone supplementation to ensure they are staying within range and are feeling the benefits. Likewise, monitoring levels ensures that the adverse effects of too much testosterone isn’t a factor.

In the case of testosterone, more isn’t always better. If you have any low testosterone symptoms, would like to an evaluation or to discuss treatment options, contact Austin Urology Institute at 512.694.888 to schedule an appointment with a provider.