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Sex hormone-binding globulin

The sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) test measures the SHBG levels in a blood sample. SHBG is a protein produced mostly in the liver and binds to sex hormones in the blood.

This protein helps to control the amount of sex hormones that actively work in the body. When SHBG binds to sex hormones, your tissue cannot use the hormones. Your tissues can only use the free sex hormones, meaning the hormones that aren’t attached to proteins.

Your doctor may order an SHBG test if you show symptoms or signs of excess or low sex hormone testosterone. Testosterone also called the male sex hormone, is also present in females but in smaller amounts.

Testosterone maintains muscle mass, controls sex drive and aids sperm production in adult males. In adult females, testosterone is vital for the growth of muscles and bones and organ function. An SHBG test can check the amount of active testosterone in the tissues. This test is also known as TeBG or testosterone-oestrogen-binding globulin.

What is the SHBG test for?

The SHBG test is usually for gathering information on how testosterone is working in the body for  

The healthcare professional will likely order a total testosterone blood test first. The total testosterone blood test measures all testosterone in the blood, including the testosterone attached to proteins and the free testosterone. This test doesn’t provide information on the amount of free testosterone in the body, so your symptoms may be from too much or little free testosterone even when you have a normal total testosterone level.

If the result of your total testosterone doesn’t explain your symptoms, the provider may order the SHBG test to know how much free testosterone you have. You may also get total testosterone and SHBG tests at the same time.

Why check SHBG levels?

SHBG testing may be necessary if you show symptoms or signs of abnormal testosterone levels, particularly if your total testosterone test result did not explain your symptoms.

For males, this test is necessary if the following symptoms of low testosterone levels occur.

For females, the SHBG test may be necessary if the following symptoms of high testosterone occur.

What happens during the test?

The healthcare provider will draw a blood sample from a vein in your arm with a small needle. After inserting the needle, the provider will collect the blood sample into a test tube. A slight sting as the needle goes in or out is common, but the procedure is less than five minutes.

Will I need to prepare for the test?

No special preparation is necessary for an SHBG blood test.

Are there risks for the SHBG test?

A blood test has very few risks. Only slight pain or bruising where the provider inserted the needle may occur, but the symptoms clear quickly.

What does the result mean?

Your healthcare provider will likely check your SHBG blood test result with your total testosterone result. This helps estimate the amount of free testosterone in the blood.

If you have extremely low SHBG levels, more of your total testosterone is available for use in the body.

Low SHBG levels may result from

SHBG levels naturally reduce with older age as sex hormone production decreases.

If your SHBG levels are elevated, it may indicate less of the total testosterone is free, so your tissues aren’t getting enough testosterone.

Elevated levels of SHBG may result from

Your healthcare provider may order an SHBG test and other tests to check if your hormones are balanced.

Other facts about SHBG blood test

Your healthcare provider may use the SHBG test and other tests to diagnose early puberty in children. SHBG levels are usually high in children, as this protein prevents sex hormones from affecting body tissues. Low SHBG levels in children may lead to early puberty.

The SHBG test and other hormone tests are available at our Clinic. You can visit our clinic today or call 02071830244 for your SHBG test.