Introduction: At present, there are no well-accepted reference ranges for serum testosterone concentrations in women.
Aim: The aim of this study was to determine the reference ranges for serum testosterone and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) in premenopausal women with normal menstrual cycles.
Methods: We measured serum total, free, and bioavailable testosterone and SHBG concentrations in 161 healthy, normally cycling women (18-49 years). Morning blood samples were collected during follicular, mid-cycle, and luteal phases of the menstrual cycle and analyzed using validated methods. Mean, median, and weighted average hormone levels across menstrual cycle phases as well as percentiles for a typical 30-year-old woman were determined.
Main outcome measures: Age-related serum levels of total, free, and bioavailable testosterone and SHBG levels in normally cycling premenopausal women.
Results: Serum testosterone concentrations exhibited an age-related decline, whereas SHBG remained relatively stable across studied age ranges. Reference ranges for total, free, and bioavailable testosterone and SHBG were established using 5th and 95th percentiles. The estimated 5th and 95th percentiles for a 30-year-old woman were: testosterone, 15-46 ng/dL (520-1595 pmol/L); free testosterone, 1.2-6.4 pg/mL (4.16-22.2 pmol/L); calculated free testosterone, 1.3-5.6 pg/mL (4.5-19.4 pmol/L); bioavailable testosterone, 1.12-7.62 ng/dL (38.8-264.21 pmol/L); and SHBG 18-86 nmol/L. The variations of hormones and SHBG across menstrual cycle were consistent with previous literature.
Conclusions: Reference ranges for free, total, and bioavailable testosterone and SHBG were established in premenopausal women using validated immunoassays and an adequate number of subjects consistent with recommendations by the National Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards. The increase in testosterone in the mid-cycle period is relatively small compared with the overall variability, so these reference ranges can be applied irrespective of the day in the menstrual cycle the sample has been taken.
© 2011 International Society for Sexual Medicine.