Metabolic Health

Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin (SHBG)

A healthy result should fall into the range 18 - 57 nmol/L.

Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) is a protein that binds tightly to the primary sex hormones testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, and estradiol (an estrogen). In this bound state, SHBG transports these hormones in the blood as biologically inactive forms. Therefore, changes in SHBG levels can affect the amount of hormone that is available to be used by the body’s tissues. The sex hormone-binding globulin test may be used to help evaluate men for low testosterone and women for excess testosterone production. A healthcare professional may order this test in conjunction with other tests to evaluate the status of a person’s sex hormones. In men, SHBG and total testosterone levels may be ordered to help determine the cause of infertility, a decreased sex drive, or erectile dysfunction. In women, SHBG and testosterone testing may be useful in helping to detect and evaluate excess testosterone production and/or decreased SHBG concentrations and in evaluating women suspected of having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Although small amounts of testosterone are produced by the ovaries and adrenal glands, even slight increases can disrupt the balance of hormones. Currently, the SHBG test is not performed frequently or routinely. Primarily, this test is ordered when the total testosterone results do not seem to be consistent with clinical signs and symptoms, such as: sexual problems in men, and irregular menstruation and/or excess hair growth in women.

What are normal SHBG levels?
The normal ranges for SHBG concentrations in adults are:

Males: 10 to 57 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L)
Females (nonpregnant): 18 to 144 nmol/L

Men typically have lower SHBG levels than women. However, a man’s SHBG level will usually increase with age as his testosterone levels drop.

Pregnancy usually raises SHBG levels. They typically return to normal after childbirth.

Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin (SHBG) result calculator

insert the value from you Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin (SHBG) test result.

What does it mean if your Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin (SHBG) result is too low?

Please refere to the gender and age specific reference ranges in the 'Research' section.

A low SHBG level means that more of the total testosterone is bioavailable and not bound to SHBG. Decreases in SHBG are seen with:

-Obesity

-Polycystic ovary syndrome

-Hypothyroidism

-Steroid use

-Cushing disease

What does it mean if your Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin (SHBG) result is too high?

Please refere to the gender and age specific reference ranges in the 'Research' section.

A high SHBG level means that it is likely that less free testosterone is available to the tissues than is indicated by the total testosterone test. This may be seen in:

-Liver disease

-Hyperthyroidism

-Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa

-Corticosteroids or estrogen use (hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives

-Pregnancy   

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