Testosterone Levels By Age: How Each New Life Chapter Brings Change

Humans are constantly changing, evolving, growing, and aging. The seasons of life write different chapters within our bodies — some of growth and some of decline. And as we change so does the amount of male hormone we produce, with testosterone levels indicating significant fluctuations by age. The question is, how and why?

From your days in the womb to late adulthood, your testosterone levels are constantly changing, adjusting to the needs of each life chapter. 

The American Urological Association (AUA) lists 300 ng/dL as the recommended guideline for normal total serum testosterone levels in males. But the truth is, men come in many shapes and sizes, with varying health backgrounds, lifestyles, and most importantly, different ages.

With that being said, an array of factors will impact YOUR testosterone levels. We’ll dive a bit deeper so you can understand why exactly testosterone levels vary, especially by age.

Testosterone Levels by Age

Testosterone is responsible for the development of physical male characteristics and promotes the production of muscle mass. It’s also essential for the male sexual and reproductive systems. As the needs of your body change, so does the average testosterone level in your bloodstream.

Testosterone levels, therefore, vary by age, peaking around early adulthood, and gradually beginning to decline between age 30 – 40. Your average testosterone level will drop about 1.6% every year (total testosterone that is) while your free testosterone levels decrease between 2% – 3% per year.

Below are the age groups with the most significant impact on your average testosterone levels.

(1) Adolescence & Early Adulthood

During puberty, GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone) stimulates the pituitary gland to produce more LH and FSH, also known as luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone respectively. 

LH, a key trigger for your reproductive system, is responsible for stimulating the Leydig cells in your testes and promoting the secretion of testosterone. The chain between GnRH, LH, and ultimately testosterone, leads to enhanced testosterone production during adolescence.

During adolescence, your average testosterone level thus experiences a critical increase, ranging between 208.08 ng/dL to 496.58 ng/dL. Levels generally reach their highest point in your twenties with up to 575 ng/dL for total testosterone.

An increase in average testosterone levels during puberty is necessary to meet your body’s growing demands and to support the development of muscle and male-specific features. It also stimulates bone growth and sexual function, as well as the male voice box and genitals.

(2) Adulthood

While your average testosterone level can remain high throughout adulthood and advanced age, the majority of men will begin to experience a steady decline with every passing year — starting at around 40 years of age.

The testosterone range for mature adults in their thirties and early forties varies between 359 to 498 ng/dL for 30 to 34-year-olds, with a slight decrease beginning to appear when reaching the mid-forties (350 to 473 ng/dL).

While age-related initial drops in testosterone are not instantly perceived by most men, over time, the decline becomes more noticeable. In some instances, the steady decrease in average testosterone levels can lead to hypogonadism — the medical term for low testosterone.

(3) Middle-Aged Men & Late Adulthood

By age 70, most men will have reduced their testosterone production by roughly 30%, which can lead to frustrating symptoms, including fatigue, low libido, decreased sexual performance, and the loss of muscle mass. It can also trigger irritability, mood changes, and depressive symptoms.

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Healthy men between age 50 and 79 can expect their testosterone levels to drop as low as 156 ng/dL, which is technically below the AUA’s cutoff of 300 ng/dL for “normal” testosterone levels.

Nonetheless, about three-quarters of older men remain within the normal range for healthy average testosterone levels. While this is great news, the current diabetes and obesity epidemics are rewriting many of our public health statistics as both present factors that promote the development of testosterone deficiency.

Maintaining healthy testosterone levels, even well into older age is, therefore, imperative for your continued well-being. After all, normal average testosterone levels in elderly men have been linked with better muscle strength, bone density, cardioprotective support, and more energy.

How to Test Testosterone Levels?

You now have a firm grasp of the ranges of testosterone levels by age and understand how your body changes as you grow older. Your average testosterone level is thus a reflection of your body’s current life season and represents various internal processes.

It’s a good idea to begin routinely checking your testosterone levels if you have low libido or suffer from erectile dysfunction for example.

But how do you test your testosterone levels?

A simple blood test will be able to shed light on where your levels are at. Most doctors will check your total testosterone levels first, others will add another variable referred to as free testosterone.

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Free testosterone, in addition to albumin-bound testosterone, is also called bioavailable testosterone. The latter is the testosterone that is readily available for your body to actively use.

After sending your bloodwork to a lab, it takes about two days for you to hear back from your physician. If your levels are low, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes or will discuss options for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). 

Other Factors Affecting Your Average Testosterone Level 

While age is a significant aspect of your testosterone health, there are many other contributing factors. A particularly important one is diet, given that a healthy versatile diet can support testosterone maintenance. 

After all, the right diet has a profound impact on your weight, which is a key element in developing obesity and/or type 2 diabetes — both of which can adversely affect your testosterone.

Other critical factors include your level of exercise, with resistance training being especially beneficial, and your lifestyle — which constitutes your alcohol intake. Additional factors can comprise your stress levels and sleep quantity and quality. 

The truth is that your testosterone levels are a culmination of many factors coming together and interacting, which highlights the importance of healthy habits in your daily routine.

Curious about the full extent of the role of testosterone in your body? Sign up for our newsletter and let’s learn together.

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