Last month I wrote an article on why I don’t intend to go on TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) yet.
My argument was I was I didn’t need it. I’m showing no symptoms of low T and I lead a healthy life anyway.
While true, I was being a hypocrite.
Anyone who’s read my health articles will know that living a life of vitality is of utmost importance to me. You should invest in your health early as it will add twenty productive years to your life. How much more of life could you experience with an extra twenty years!
Making a decision on a hunch is not aligned with my approach to using data for health and longevity. Sure, the body has a built-in intuition that you have to listen to, but supplementing with cold hard data is always recommended.
I’ve had my testosterone tested a couple of times in the past. It used to be either very expensive to do it privately or difficult to get on the NHS. If you’re showing no signs of low T they won’t test you for it.
The process is becoming easier thanks to a greater awareness of TRT in the UK. Also, private blood testing companies like Medichecks have smooth lined the process.
Importantly, they understand that checking for low T requires more than a testosterone test alone. Many factors come into play with regard to when finding out if you’re suitable for TRT and they’ve developed a comprehensive blood test based on this.
You can order a blood testing kit directly from the Medichecks website.
To get tested costs money but if you’re in the 35 and above age bracket and you’ve never tested for low T then it’s worth the investment.
Medichecks says the test is for men who are on, or about to start, TRT. While I’m in neither camp it’s useful for anyone who wants to understand their current health as it relates to TRT. In other words, if the test comes back and you’re low you should consider speaking with your doctor.
It has 40 different tests. These include:
Total T, free T (calculated), oestradiol, SHBG and prolactin
Red blood cells
Haemoglobin, HCT, RBC, MCV, MCH, MCHC and RDW
White blood cells
White cell count, neutrophils, lymphocytes monocytes, eosinophils, basophils and blood film report
Platelet count, MPV
ALP, ALT, CK, gamma GT
Total protein, albumin, globulin
Heart disease risk
HDL % of total
I’m not going to pretend I know what all of the 40 variables are for. Total T, free T and oestradiol are key markers as they tell you what the key hormones in TRT are like.
If total T and free T are low then you could have problems. That said, even if both are at ‘normal’ levels but your oestradiol is high then you still may have symptoms.
Though the female hormone oestradiol is important for men to have, too much of it counteracts the testosterone.
Doing the test at home
Once you’ve paid for the test you’ll receive a kit in the post. It contains instructions, vials to collect the blood, finger pricks to draw the blood, hygienic swabs and a pre-paid return address.
You prick your fingers a couple of times, allow the blood to drip into the vials to the fill line, seal them up and post back to the lab.
Receiving the Medichecks TRT Check Plus results
A couple of days later I received an email saying my results were in and uploaded to my Medichecks account.
The results are presented via a data dashboard. This is helpful if you want to have regular tests as the dashboard will allow you to see any changes in your data.
The results are presented via this data dashboard. You can then click on each panel to dig into the data
The results also come with comments from a doctor. Mine said:
TRT Check Plus (Testosterone Replacement Therapy) 17 Mar 2017
“I note that you are taking this test as a general health check.
“Your red and white blood cells are normal. Your platelets have been reported as clumped: this is usually a normal finding and relates to difficulty in taking your blood sample.
“The CK (muscle marker) is normal for an active person.
“You have normal proteins and ferritin.
“Although your total cholesterol is a little elevated this is due to a combination of slightly raised LDL (bad) cholesterol and an elevated HDL (good, protective) cholesterol. The key point is that the ratio of HDL (good) cholesterol to total cholesterol is a very healthy one.
“Your thyroid function is normal and all your hormones are within the normal range.”
And my testosterone results?
Good right? Well, not exactly.
I’ve dug into the data and while they’re in the ‘normal’ range they are borderline. This is the results with UK and US conversions.
- Total test = 16.64nmol/L converted to 480 ng/dl
- Free test = 0.302nmol converted to 9ng/dl
- Oestradiol = 41.42pmol converted to 11.3pg/mL
- SHBG = 40.03nmol/L
- Prolactin = 196mIU/L
That said, optimum levels of total T and free T differ depending on who you ask. I’ve read posts saying you should be at least in the 600 ng/dl range for total T. Then I read posts saying anywhere from 400 to 600 ng/dl is optimum.
Comparing my results with the chart above says I’m low in total T and normal in both free T and SHBG.
TRT is about intuition as well as science
I pointed out at the beginning of this article that listening to your body is a skill you need to learn.
I feel good, have drive every day, push myself in the gym every week and I’m making positive changes to my body. My intuition tells me I don’t have any issues as far as low T is concerned.
The blood results say I’m in normal range, though depending on the research I’m either normal or ‘low normal’. The science tells me I need to keep an eye on my T levels.
For now I intend to continue as I am. In six months time, I’ll order a retest to see where I’m at.
Do I recommend the Medichecks TRT Check Plus blood test?
If you’re concerned about your long-term health (you should be) and understand that testosterone decreases as you age you should get a blood test.
The Medichecks TRT Check Plus test is as comprehensive a test you can get. With 40 different tests included you will have as much data as needed to know when or if you need to go on TRT. The way the data is presented is useful to understand long-term trends too.
If you live in the UK, chances are the NHS is not going to give you as comprehensive test as this. From what I’ve read online, doctors in the UK are woefully behind when it comes to understanding and prescribing TRT.
As I’ve talked about before, services like Medichecks is empowering us to take control of our own health. If you’re a man above 30 (and some cases even in your 20s) having the incorrect hormone levels can cause you all sorts of problems in life.
At £119 it’s not cheap but few things of value usually are. Get tested, it could improve your life.