Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 12/15/2020
As a man, testosterone is an essential hormone for keeping you physically fit, maintaining your sex drive and ensuring you have a high quality of life.
Testosterone is a type of androgen, or male sex hormone. It’s the primary sex hormone found in your body and plays a key role in controlling your male physical features, as well as certain aspects of your sex drive and sexual performance.
For men, the normal range for testosterone is 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) of blood, or 10 to 35 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L).
If your testosterone levels are below this range, you may suffer from low testosterone, or “low T.” If your levels are above this range, it may signal a health issue that’s causing your body to produce excessive amounts of testosterone.
It’s normal for your testosterone levels to fluctuate throughout your life. Factors such as aging, as well as your lifestyle, habits and general health might cause your production of testosterone to increase or decrease during certain periods.
Below, we’ve provided more information about normal testosterone levels for men, as well as the symptoms and causes of low testosterone levels.
We’ve also explained how you can check your testosterone levels, as well as what you can do to increase your testosterone production if you’re deficient.
Because everyone is different, there’s no exact “normal” level of testosterone for men. Instead, normal testosterone levels for men exist within a range.
Most labs will consider your testosterone levels to be normal if they’re between 300 and 1,000 nanograms per deciliter of blood (ng/dL).
Some labs use nanomoles instead of nanograms to measure testosterone levels. In this case, the normal range is 10 to 35 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L).
It’s worth noting that these ranges can vary from one lab to another. Some labs have a range that extends below 300 ng/dL on the low end and/or above 1,000 ng/dL on the high end. It’s best to talk to your healthcare provider to find out more about their specific criteria.
Checking your testosterone levels is a simple process. You can check your testosterone using a blood test called a testosterone levels test. During this test, a healthcare professional will use a small needle to take a blood sample from a vein in your arm.
This process is quick and easy, although you may feel a slight stinging sensation as the needle is inserted and removed.
Your blood will be analyzed in a laboratory. After this, you’ll receive information about your testosterone levels.
It’s important to understand that there can be multiple symptoms of low testosterone that are both physical and non-physical, and the best way to start the process is by discussing it with your healthcare provider.
You can organize a testosterone level test through your healthcare provider or by contacting a lab testing center in your area.
Low testosterone levels are often referred to as low testosterone (low T), androgen deficiency, testosterone deficiency syndrome (TD) and hypogonadism. Low testosterone can cause a variety of symptoms and may have a significant impact on your quality of life as a man.
Testosterone levels below 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) are generally recognized as low testosterone.
If you have low testosterone, you may not notice any symptoms. Some men with low levels of testosterone experience:
Reduced sex drive
Difficulty sleeping, including insomnia
Erection problems, including erectile dysfunction (ED)
Reduced strength and muscle mass
Increase body fat
Depression and difficulty concentrating
Reduced bone density and strength
Low sperm count
If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms and think that low testosterone could be the cause, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about undergoing a testosterone levels test.
A variety of factors may contribute to lower-than-normal testosterone levels. One common factor is aging.
Starting from around 30 or 40 years of age, it’s fairly common for testosterone levels to slowly decline over time.
Other factors that may cause low testosterone include:
Obesity or significant,
Low thyroid function (hypothyroidism)
Abuse of illicit drugs and/or alcohol
Congenital defects that affect the reproductive system
Use of certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs
Some surgical procedures, such as certain types of brain surgery
Injury to the testicles or diseases such as testicular cancer
Abuse of performance enhancing drugs, such as anabolic steroids
Many diseases and disorders, including hemochromatosis, uncontrolled diabetes, kidney failure, obstructive sleep apnea and others
Low testosterone is treatable. We’ve provided more information further down the page about the options you have if your testosterone levels are low, including lifestyle changes and medications you may receive from your healthcare provider.
There are several ways to increase your testosterone levels. If you have mildly low testosterone, you may be able to bring your levels up in the normal range by making changes to your lifestyle, diet and habits.
If you have very low testosterone levels, or if lifestyle changes aren’t effective, you may need to use medication to increase your testosterone levels.
If your testosterone levels are towards the low end of the normal range but aren’t low enough to be considered clinically low testosterone, you may be able to increase your testosterone levels by making certain changes to your habits and lifestyle. These include:
Improving your sleep habits. Your levels of testosterone increase while you’re asleep and decline while you’re awake, making healthy sleep habits important for maintaining a normal testosterone level. Try to reach or exceed the CDC’s recommendation of at least seven hours of sleep per night.
Exercising more. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, getting more exercise could help to increase your testosterone production. Research has found that being physically active is linked to higher levels of testosterone and other important hormones.
Reducing stress. Research shows that high levels of cortisol -- the hormone that your body produces as part of its response to stress -- are associated with reduced levels of testosterone. Try to minimize your stress, either through relaxation exercises or changing the aspects of your life that cause you to feel stressed in the first place.
If you’re overweight or obese, try to lose weight. Obesity is closely associated with low testosterone in men, with one study published in 2014 finding that obese men have testosterone levels 40 to 50 percent lower than men in the normal BMI range. If you’re overweight and have lower-than-normal testosterone levels, try to reduce your weight until you’re in the normal BMI range.
Use testosterone-boosting vitamins and supplements. Some supplements, such as ashwagandha, zinc, magnesium and vitamin D, may help to increase testosterone if you have an existing deficiency.
Our guide to increasing testosterone provides more information on lifestyle changes, habits and supplements that you can use to increase your testosterone production.
If you have clinically low testosterone levels, or significantly lower levels than the norm for your age, your healthcare provider may suggest testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).
Testosterone replacement therapy involves using man-made testosterone to increase your total level of testosterone.
Testosterone is available in numerous forms, including as a transdermal patch, a topical gel, a tablet, an implant or as an injection.
TRT works quickly and can provide relief from many of the symptoms of low testosterone. It’s typically more effective in younger men with low testosterone levels, although it can also help older men too.
Although testosterone replacement therapy is effective, it does have risks and can cause side effects. Common side effects of TRT include:
Heart health issues, such as worsening heart failure
You’ll need to discuss these issues with your healthcare provider before using any testosterone treatment.
Currently, research is inconclusive about whether or not testosterone replacement therapy can increase your risk of developing prostate cancer or facing cardiovascular health issues such as stroke or heart attack.
As a man, your testosterone should be between 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) or 10 to 35 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L) to be considered clinically normal.
If your testosterone is below the normal range, you may have low testosterone. It’s best to talk to your healthcare provider about this to learn more about the possible causes and treatments that are available to help you.