Revolutionizing men's health: The influence of salivary testosterone measurements

Testosterone is a hormone that plays a pivotal role when it comes to developing and maintaining male reproductive tissues and secondary sexual characteristics, such as increased muscle and bone mass, and the growth of body hair. Testosterone is also produced by the female body, albeit at much lower levels.

This hormone has a wide-ranging influence on the body, impacting everything from sexual development to bone health and mood regulation. Ensuring testosterone levels are balanced is therefore central to overall health and well-being, underscoring the value accurate and reliable hormone evaluation offers.

Tecan has a diverse range of immunoassays available – including purpose-made kits for screening sex hormones – based on luminescence or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) technologies.

Testosterone production takes place in the testes in men and in the ovaries in women. Similar to other steroid hormones, it follows a diurnal rhythm,1,2 meaning production peaks in the morning and declines during the day.

The hormone exists in the blood in several forms, including free, bound to sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) or bound to albumin. Free testosterone is the biologically active form, which means it has the capacity to interact with androgen receptors in different tissues throughout the body. It is, therefore, responsible for the physiological functions related to the hormone.

The testosterone level can be evaluated by measuring the free fraction in bodily fluids such as plasma, serum and saliva. Only free testosterone has the ability to pass from the bloodstream into saliva, making the latter a prime candidate for this testing method.

Using saliva to measure hormones is less invasive than other testing methods, making this method more popular. Moreover, samples can be easily taken several times a day, even by patients themselves. This is important as, due to the diurnal rhythm of testosterone, both the time of testing and the number of samples play a central role in the analysis of peak and baseline testosterone levels.

Reliable results

Saliva-based testing is a key tool for monitoring male testosterone levels but assays with high sensitivity and accuracy are vital for ensuring reliable diagnoses.

Tecan has more than 20 years of experience and know-how in manufacturing immunoassays for saliva hormone testing, and is known for being able to deliver assays of the highest quality to facilitate the growing saliva research and support the diagnostics community.

Tecan’s luminescence- and ELISA-based saliva immunoassays are globally recognized and have been used to accurately measure cortisol and sex hormones across various peer-reviewed studies.2,3

For example, Goncharov et al. used the Tecan Testosterone Luminescence Immunoassay to measure salivary testosterone.2 The study demonstrated that this assay delivered accurate measurements of salivary testosterone levels for the diagnosis of various forms of hypogonadism in men, as well as for the analysis of androgen status in women.

In another study, Schmidt et al. came to similar conclusions when leveraging the power of the Testosterone Luminescence Immunoassay in healthy individuals, declaring that the assay is appropriate for quantifying the steroid hormone in human saliva.3

Stress and testosterone

Stress can have a severe impact on testosterone levels. For example, acute stress, such as a sudden stressful event, can cause a temporary increase in testosterone levels as part of our ‘fight or flight’ response, where the body releases different hormones to prepare the body for immediate action.

However, chronic or prolonged stress can cause testosterone levels to decrease over time as raised levels of the stress hormone cortisol can impede the production of testosterone.

High cortisol levels hinder the production of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which are required for the testes to produce testosterone. Additionally, chronic stress can impact general lifestyle changes that also contribute to decreased testosterone levels, including unhealthy eating habits, poor sleep, and reduced physical activity.

Physiological and psychological applications

Military personnel are often exposed to challenging multi-stressor environments, which include a combination of physical, psychological, and cognitive demands such as sleep loss and caloric restriction.

Therefore, preventing burnout and maintaining performance levels requires balancing out stressful periods with sufficient recovery, and it is crucial to be able to establish metrics that would enable a good analysis of appropriate training loads and periods of rest in military training and operations.

Cortisol and testosterone, in addition to the testosterone/cortisol ratio, have been used successfully as markers of excessive training stress, physiological strain, and insufficient recovery periods in non-military settings.4,5,6

Therefore, a number of studies have been focused on investigating the variations in testosterone and cortisol levels in saliva during various excessive military training phases, using Tecan assays, including the Testosterone Luminescence Immunoassay.

The findings indicate that hormonal responses could act as markers of physiological strain when individuals are going through military training regimes and could be practical markers of soldier readiness when incorporated into a larger monitoring system.7,8 The results can also be applied outside of the military, highlighting how acute and physiological challenges provoke certain hormonal responses.


Testosterone levels have a significant impact on men’s health, and having accurate and reliable methods to measure this hormone is of the utmost importance. Saliva is ideal for testosterone screening, as only the biologically active form, free testosterone, is present.

Tecan has a wide variety of assays available, specially developed and validated for saliva, that can measure the levels and presence of various hormones such as cortisol and testosterone. These assays have already been used in key research studies and by clinicians around the world, and they are becoming more and more popular due to their accuracy and reproducibility.

Tecan has also recently announced the launch of a new Steroid Panel LC-MS Kit, which facilitates the measurement of up to 18 steroids in parallel in serum samples.

To discover more or to see Tecan’s full portfolio, visit


  1. Brambilla, D. J., et al. The effect of diurnal variation on clinical measurement of serum testosterone and other sex hormone levels in men. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2009, 94(3), 907-913.
  2. Goncharov, N. et al. Diagnostic significance of free salivary testosterone measurement using a direct luminescence immunoassay in healthy men and in patients with disorders of androgenic status. The Aging Male, 2006, 9(2), 111-122.
  3. Schmidt J. et al. Practical evaluation of two commercial immunoassays for the quantification of steroid hormones in human saliva. Journal of Cellular Biotechnology, 2021, 7, 25-33.
  4. Meeusen R. et al. Prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the overtraining syndrome: joint consensus statement of the European College of Sport Science and the American College of Sports Medicine. Medicine and science in sports and exercise. 2013, 45(1), 186-205.
  5. Kreher J. B. et al. Overtraining syndrome: a practical guide. Sports health. 2012, 4(2), 128-38.
  6. Cadegiani F. A. et al. Hormonal aspects of overtraining syndrome: a systematic review. BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2017, 9(1), 14.
  7. Tait J. L. et al. Impact of military training stress on hormone response and recovery, PLOS ONE, 2022, 17(3).
  8. Zueger R. et al. Testosterone and cortisol responses to acute and prolonged stress during officer training school, The International Journal on the Biology of Stress, 2023, 26(1), 2199886

About Tecan

​Tecan is a leading global provider of automated laboratory instruments and solutions. Its systems and components help people working in clinical diagnostics, basic and translational research and drug discovery bring their science to life.

In particular, the company develops, produces, markets and supports automated workflow solutions that empower laboratories to achieve more. Its Cavro branded instrument components are chosen by leading instrumentation suppliers across multiple disciplines.

Tecan works side by side with a range of clients, including diagnostic laboratories, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and university research centers. Its expertise extends to developing and manufacturing OEM instruments and components, marketed by its partner companies. Whatever the project – large or small, simple or complex – helping its clients to achieve their goals comes first.

The company holds a leading position in all the sectors it works in, and has changed the way things are done in research and development labs around the world. In diagnostics, for instance, it has raised the bar when it comes to the reproducibility and throughput of testing.

In under four decades, Tecan has grown from a Swiss family business to a brand that is well established on the global stage of life sciences. From pioneering days on a farm to the leading role the business assumes today, Tecan empowers research, diagnostics and many applied markets around the world.

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Last updated: Jun 7, 2024 at 12:20 PM


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