Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Men's Health

Font Size

'Low T' Diagnosis May Need More Than a Blood Test

Physical exam for testosterone levels is also essential because of lab inconsistencies

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, March 10, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A blood test alone is not enough to diagnose low testosterone levels in men, and it should be used in tandem with a physical exam, a panel of experts says.

The number of men in the United States diagnosed with low testosterone has increased significantly over the last decade, they noted. However, inconsistent laboratory practices and other problems result in unreliable blood test results for the condition. Testosterone is the major male sex hormone.

The lack of consistency in laboratory practices occurs in areas such as blood-sample collection and storage and the methods used to analyze blood samples.

The panel of doctors from six major U.S. institutions analyzed data from more than 10,000 patients. Their findings were published online March 6 ahead of print in the May issue of the journal Urology.

"In some cases, testosterone levels, tested on the same day from a blood sample taken from a single patient, differed by as much as 30 percent from one lab to the next," said study author Dr. Darius Paduch, a urologist and male sexual medicine specialist at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, said in a medical center news release.

The findings indicate that relying on blood test results alone can lead to both under- and over-treatment of low testosterone levels in men.

Paduch said "it's critical to primarily focus on treating the patient and his symptoms," while using blood test results as a "secondary guideline."

Symptoms of low testosterone levels -- also known as hypogonadism -- include fatigue, loss of sexual desire and erectile dysfunction. The condition is widely regarded as something that affects men aged 65 and older, but it's increasingly being diagnosed in younger men with diabetes and obesity.

Doctors and other health care providers should insist that labs follow standardized guidelines for testosterone testing issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Paduch said.

Today on WebMD

man coughing
Men shouldn’t ignore.
man swinging in hammock
And how to get out it.
shaving tools
On your shaving skills.
muscular man flexing
Four facts that matter.
Food Men 10 Foods Boost Male Health
Thoughtful man sitting on bed
Man taking blood pressure
doctor holding syringe
Condom Quiz
man running
older couple in bed