Total Testosterone vs. Bioavailable Testosterone: Why SHBG Matters

Sex Hormone Binding Globulin or SHBG is essential to maximizing the availability of testosterone, the substance every man wants to measure. Today, science is telling us that both men and women need an optimized hormonal profile, and testosterone is widely known to be important for men.

Why SHBG is Important for Your Health and Performance

Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) is a glycoprotein primarily produced in the liver and most commonly found in the bloodstream. It binds to any of 17 sex hormones, including testosterone and estrogen, and transports these chemicals throughout the body. Testosterone and sex hormones are referred to as “bound” when attached to SHBG. When these hormones are not bound to SHBG, they are referred to as “free”, or “bioavailable”, and can freely exert their effects upon your body. The sum of bound and free testosterone is referred to as total testosterone.

It is well-known that a proper balance of testosterone and other sex hormones have a crucial impact on your health. Excessively high SHBG is problematic especially for males and athletes because it decreases the amount of free testosterone . High levels of SHBG are associated with infertility, a decreased sex drive, and erectile dysfunction, especially when total testosterone levels are already low. In both men and women, low levels of free testosterone can result in reduced muscle growth and impaired post-workout recovery. Additionally, recent research suggests that high levels of SHBG bind to estrogen and reduce bone mass in both men and women- potentially leading to osteoporosis. Thus, optimal SHBG levels are crucial in maintaining proper bone health and some experts are now suggesting routine measurement of SHBG as a useful new marker for predicting severe bone diseases.

So how do you know if you need to increase or decrease your SHBG levels? The only way is to get your blood tested. Once you know your SHBG levels, you can make the proper lifestyle changes to modify your levels and optimize your health

By: Heather Schwartzmann, PA-C

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Boston Testosterone Partners
National Testosterone Restoration for Men
Wellness & Preventative Medicine
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