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Health Protocols

Lab Testing

Men’s Health Concerns

Testosterone (Total) (serum)

Testosterone is a steroid hormone from the androgen group primarily secreted in the testes of males and the ovaries of females with small amounts also secreted by the adrenal glands (Burger 2002; Wood 2012).

Testosterone is a key anabolic steroid responsible for directing metabolism and tissue repair and regeneration (Demling 2005; Wu 2014; Yu 2014). In men, testosterone also plays a key role in the development of male reproductive tissues as well as promoting secondary sexual characteristics such as increased muscle and bone mass and hair growth.

In addition, testosterone is essential for overall health and wellness. Recent research has revealed the association between low testosterone and many age-related diseases. Conditions such as heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and low libido are now thought to be attributed to what doctors call “low T” (Stanworth 2008; Rivas 2014; Huo 2016).

On average, an adult male has about 10 times more testosterone in the circulation than an adult female (Gentil 2016). However, women are far more sensitive to testosterone than men. Women with low testosterone may be more at risk for bone disease, dysfunction of the blood vessels, heart disease, muscle wasting, tiredness, and loss of libido (Lorenz 2017; Bolour 2005; Kaczmarek 2003; Rohr 2002; Rech 2016; Burger 2006; Bachmann 2006).

  • Reference Range for Men: 264-916 ng/dL (over age 18)
  • LE’s Optimal Range for Men: 700-900 ng/dL

Free Testosterone (serum)

Free testosterone is the biologically active form of this hormone measured in the blood. 

  • Reference Range for Men:
    • 20-29 yrs: 9.3-26.5 pg/mL
    • 30-39 yrs: 8.7-25.1 pg/mL
    • 40-49 yrs: 6.8-21.5 pg/mL
    • 50-59 yrs: 7.2-24.0 pg/mL
    • >59 yrs: 6.6-18.1 pg/mL
  • LE’s Optimal Range for Men: 20-25 pg/mL

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) (serum or plasma, frozen)

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a potent form of testosterone required for male sexual development (Roth 2011; Hiort 2013). In adults, DHT is the primary androgen in the prostate and in hair follicles (Anitha 2009). DHT levels are higher in men with male-pattern baldness and prostate dysfunction (Dhingra 2011; Wright 2010). Remember, women with higher levels of DHT can also lose their hair (Urysiak-Czubatka 2014).

Additionally, men and women on testosterone therapy should always check their testosterone blood level to make sure that it stays within an optimal range.

  • Reference Range for Men: 30-85 ng/dL
  • LE’s Optimal Range for Men: 30-50 ng/dL

Pregnenolone (serum or plasma, frozen)

Pregnenolone is sometimes called “the mother of all hormones.” All other steroids including testosterone and estrogens are derived from this important hormone (Velarde 2014). For this reason, optimal blood levels of pregnenolone are critical for a healthy hormone balance. Pregnenolone is also important for proper brain development, cognition, memory, and mood (Ducharme 2010; Mellon 2007; Brown 2014; Ritsner 2010). These dramatic effects on the brain explain why pregnenolone is known as a neuro-active steroid.

  • Reference Range for Men: <151 ng/dL
  • LE’s Optimal Range for Men: 125-175 ng/dL

Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin (SHBG) (serum)

Testosterone and estradiol circulate in the bloodstream, bound mostly to sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) and to some degree other proteins. Only a small fraction of the sex hormones are unbound, or "free," and thus biologically active and able to activate their receptors (Holst 2004; Rosner 1991; Hammond 2016).

SHBG levels should not be too low or too high. SHBG helps protect androgens like testosterone from being metabolized rapidly by the liver or excreted in the urine by the kidneys. If SHBG levels are too low, then testosterone will be metabolized and/or excreted too quickly and essentially wasted. If SHBG is too high, it decreases the active form of the hormone available to the tissues by binding too much of it up. Thus, bioavailability of sex hormones is influenced by the level of SHBG (Laurent 2016). High levels of insulin decrease SHBG level (Strain 1994). On the other hand, thyroid hormone and estrogen increase it (Serin 2001; Kalme 1999; Selva 2009).

  • Reference Ranges for Men:
    • 20-49 yrs.: 16.5-55.9 nmol/L
    • >49 yrs.: 19.3-76.4 nmol/L
  • LE’s Optimal Range for Men: ~30-40 nmol/L

Estradiol (E2) (serum)

Estradiol (E2) is the predominant sex hormone present in females and is also found at lower levels in men (Wise 2009; Schulster 2016). In men, high levels of estradiol are associated with abdominal fat, enlargement of the prostate, and cardiovascular risk. Also, low levels below 18 are associated with increased risk of fracture (Amin 2006).

  • Reference Range for Adult Men: 7.6-42.6 pg/mL
  • LE’s Optimal Range for Adult Men: 20-30 pg/mL

Total Estrogens (serum or plasma)

Total estrogen is a measurement of overall estrogen status. Estrogens are important regulators of reproductive and non-reproductive organs in men (Cooke 2017). They are involved in sexual development, lipid metabolism (Kula 2005), bone health (Vandenput 2009), and regulate body weight and adiposity (Rubinow 2017), immunity (Ercan 2017) and cardiovascular health (Sudhir 1999). The total estrogen test does not break down the individual estrogens but looks at the total body burden of estrogens and can even include exogenous estrogens such as phytoestrogens and xenoestrogens from the environment.

  • Reference Range for Men: 40-115 pg/mL
  • LE’s Optimal Range for Men: 40-77 pg/mL

Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) (serum)

Prostate specific antigen (PSA) is produced exclusively by cells of the prostate gland (Lilja 1988; Sp 2013). Used in conjunction with the digital rectal examination, PSA is a useful screening test for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer. The real value of the PSA test is looking at trends over time versus a single PSA reading.

  • Reference Range: 0.0-4.0 ng/mL
  • LE’s Optimal Range: 0.0-1.0 ng/mL

Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) (serum)

Alpha-fetoprotein (a-FP, AFP) has several applications, the most important being in the management of testicular cancer.

  • Normal range: 0.0-8.3 ng/mL

Refer to Life Extension’s Male Hormone Restoration protocol for additional information about the benefits of these and other tests to overall health.

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