Experiencing low testosterone can be a tough experience, and when something doesn’t feel right either in your body or in your mood, it often comes down to testosterone levels. In such a situation, it is quite likely that you will come across the term ‘free testosterone’ while looking up solutions to fix it.
This is because testosterone is present in the bloodstream in two different forms- Bound Testosterone and Free Testosterone. It is free testosterone that holds more importance than its other counterpart even though the presence of bound testosterone is much higher in the body.
Let’s find out more about free testosterone, its importance, what is its role and what are the various testosterone tests.
Free Testosterone Vs Total Testosterone
In order to know what free testosterone is, it is important to first understand the difference between the various forms of testosterone and what total testosterone means. As mentioned earlier, there are two different forms of testosterone found in the blood.
First- is the ‘bound testosterone’, which forms the major part. When testosterone is released in the bloodstream, nearly 98% of it binds itself either to sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG) or albumin. These are called ‘bound’ testosterone and they aren’t really of much use to the body because the hormone-binding receptors make it incapable of any function.
The other form of testosterone which does not attach to the protein receptors is called ‘free’ testosterone. Just about 2% of the total testosterone remains free-flowing in the body but it is this form which influences various functions in the body.
Free testosterone can connect with any testosterone-friendly receptor in the body because of their free nature thus proving beneficial. For example, when the cells from the bones or muscles absorb free testosterone, it leads to the replication of cells which helps expand bones and muscles. It also regulates vital functions like metabolism in the body and more.
Total testosterone, as the name implies, is the combined amount of both free and bound testosterone present in the body.
How Are Testosterone Levels Checked
The total testosterone in the body naturally is a lot higher than free testosterone. When your total testosterone volume is low, free testosterone is automatically low. However, it is important to note that, at times your total testosterone might seem to be at normal levels, but you might have low free testosterone availability which is the root cause of various health issues. Therefore, when you test your testosterone level, you should always consider the amount of free testosterone in the blood rather than the grand total.
The testosterone levels are determined by the following tests:
- Total testosterone test: In this, the healthcare providers measure both free and bound testosterone in the blood combined.
- Free testosterone test: This test helps find out the concentration of unbound or free testosterone in the blood.
- Bioavailable testosterone test: This test measures the amount of free testosterone, plus the testosterone that is loosely attached to albumin- a form of protein in the blood.
If you are to test for low testosterone, you can expect a series of examinations conducted by specialists to see the underlying issues that can hinder testosterone production. They may conduct a physical examination, check for blood counts, cholesterol levels, testosterone levels in the blood, testicular biopsy, etc.
Role Of Free Testosterone
Free testosterone is the most dynamic form of the hormone which can attach to any testosterone-specific receptor cells in the body. This makes them more functioning and they thus offer a wide range of benefits. For example, they impact the growth and expansion of muscle tissues and bones, giving a low-pitch voice and masculine look to men. Someone with low testosterone may find it difficult to increase muscle mass and hence many people go for testosterone-boosting supplements.
An adequate amount of free testosterone in the body also enhances mood and helps maintain a good energy level, sex drive, fertility, metabolism, etc. Testosterone becomes incapable of performing these functions once they are bound with the blood proteins. The free form, however, is available at a low level because as soon as testosterone is released in the blood, the blood proteins like SHBG or albumin attach to the majority of them and inhibit their capability.
Therefore, it is important to maintain a healthy level of free testosterone in the body.
Benefits Of Free Testosterone
Earlier, we discussed that free testosterone is available in limited quantities in the bloodstream but offers maximum benefits to the body in this form alone. Here’s a list of the advantages offered by free testosterone which helps men in different ways-
How To Increase Free Testosterone
It is important to ensure that there is an adequate amount of free testosterone in the body because of the wide range of crucial health benefits attached to this form. If you are experiencing low testosterone, then here are some of the natural and effective ways you can increase it:
Healthy Diet And Workout
One of the most important factors that can affect hormone profile and as a result, overall health is your food habits and the kind of lifestyle you lead. Therefore, you need to include a well-balanced diet with a good amount of testosterone-boosting nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, pulses, etc.
In addition to following a nutrition-rich diet, it is also important to keep your body active with regular workout regimes. Resistance-trainings and compound movements are some of the types of exercises that are known to boost free testosterone in the body.
It goes unsaid that stress can lead to a number of health problems and one of them is hormonal imbalance. One of the major reasons behind testosterone deficiency in most men is high levels of stress. This leads to weight gain, and high blood pressure, and affects cardiovascular health which can bring significant lifestyle changes. Therefore, it is important to reduce stress in order to eliminate the low testosterone condition.
Some of the ways you can relieve stress include meditation, following good sleep habits, and yoga among other relaxation techniques.
Testosterone Boosting Supplements
Testosterone has gained a massive amount of attention over the last few years because of its benefits and so have the testosterone boosters. Natural testosterone boosters are an effective way to accelerate testosterone production in the body and there are many options in the market today. These are non-steroidal formulations and the ones from reputed brands are generally safe to intake. These dietary supplements have ingredients that increase the body’s natural capability of producing testosterone.
Problems Of Low Testosterone
Testosterone is responsible for multiple functions in the body and mind. A deficiency of it, can, therefore, have a serious impact on health and lifestyle. Some of the most common issues arising due to testosterone deficiency are :
Low testosterone is a common problem among aging men. However, when speaking about testosterone deficiency or its issues, free testosterone is often ignored or undiscussed. Although available in low quantities in the body, free testosterone is the most active form and can link with any cell receptor to carry out various functions. That is why, when you plan on boosting testosterone production, you need to consider increasing the free testosterone.
If you experience symptoms like fatigue, low sex drive or mood fluctuations, and you try everything without much results, it can be quite frustrating. In such a situation, it is best to get your testosterone level tested after consulting with a healthcare practitioner and start looking into ways to bring the level up for a better living.
Frequently Asked Questions
Free Testosterone Or Total Testosterone- Which Is More Important?
While both free and total testosterone are needed in the body, free testosterone is of higher importance because it can attach to any receptor in the body and perform important functions. Total testosterone is the grand total combining both free and bound testosterone.
How Much Free Testosterone Is Present In Men?
Of the total amount of testosterone present in the body, just about 1 to 2% concentration makes free testosterone and nearly 98% binds to the blood proteins.
How Can I Increase Free Testosterone In The Body?
Free testosterone can be increased by making some healthy changes to the lifestyle including protein-, vitamin-, mineral-rich food to your diet and consistent resistance exercises. You can also use natural testosterone boosters to improve testosterone production in the body. Aside from that, following a healthy sleep habit and lowering stress levels help in combating testosterone deficiency in a big way.