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Total testosterone is not associated with lean mass or handgrip strength in pre-menopausal females

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The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between endogenous testosterone concentrations and lean mass and handgrip strength in healthy, pre-menopausal females. Testosterone has been positively associated with lean mass and strength in young and older males. Whether this relationship exists in pre-menopausal females is unknown. Secondary data from the 2013–2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were used to test this relationship. Females were aged 18–40 (n = 716, age 30 ± 6 years, mean ± SD) and pre-menopausal. Multivariate linear regression models were used to examine associations between total testosterone, lean mass index (LMI) and handgrip strength. Mean ± SD testosterone concentration was 1.0 ± 0.6 nmol L−1 and mean free androgen index (FAI) was 0.02 ± 0.02. In pre-menopausal females, testosterone was not associated with LMI (β = 0.05; 95%CI − 0.04, 0.15; p = 0.237) or handgrip strength (β = 0.01; 95%CI − 0.11, 0.12; p = 0.926) in a statistically significant manner. Conversely, FAI was associated with LMI (β = − 0.03; 95%CI − 0.05, − 0.02; p = 0.000) in a quadratic manner, meaning LMI increases with increasing FAI levels. Handgrip strength was not associated with FAI (β = 0.06; 95%CI − 0.02, 0.15; p = 0.137). These findings indicate that FAI, but not total testosterone, is associated with LMI in pre-menopausal females. Neither FAI nor total testosterone are associated with handgrip strength in pre-menopausal females when testosterone concentrations are not altered pharmacologically.



Scientific reports



Article number



1 - 9


Nature Publishing Group


London, Eng.





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal