Testosterone Related Diseases Ed

Although the prevalence of erectile dysfunction (ED) has been difficult to quantify, this medical condition clearly affects tens of millions of men in the United States alone. Low testosterone levels are one of several potential risk factors for ED, but some of the questions concerning the relationship between testosterone and ED remain unanswered.

What is ED?

Erectile dysfunction, or ED, is the inability to sustain an erection strong enough for sexual intercourse. For some men, ED may be only a periodic problem. For others, it can be an issue that affects every attempt at sexual intercourse. Currently, the definition of ED does not include guidelines on how frequent the occurrences must be in order to constitute a medical condition that requires treatment. Many physicians address this question on a patient-by-patient basis.

The process of achieving and sustaining an erection is influenced by many of the body’s system, including the endocrine system, the vascular system and the nervous system. Mental context (e.g. lack of sexual arousal or heightened anxiety) matters, as well. For these reasons, ED can have a wide range of causes. Low testosterone is one such underlying cause.

The Role of Testosterone in ED

Testosterone is required for normal erectile function. Men with dramatically low testosterone levels (a condition called hypogonadism, or testosterone deficiency) have a high incidence of ED, and testosterone replacement therapy has been shown to alleviate ED in such cases. Approximately 5 percent of the men seeking treatment for ED fall into this category. A blood test for testosterone levels can be used to diagnose hypogonadism.

Although 5 percent may sound like a small number of cases, many more men who see a clinician for ED have testosterone levels that are considered moderately lower than normal. In these men, the low testosterone may be contributing to ED along with other factors, or their ED symptoms may be due to something else altogether. Consequently, prescribing testosterone for ED may or may not be beneficial for these patients.

It’s worth noting that not all men with a moderate decline in testosterone levels experience ED. Also of interest, some men with normal testosterone levels find their ED is improved by testosterone replacement therapy. These findings highlight how the role of testosterone in erectile function can vary from one individual to the next.

Other ED Risk Factors

ED can have many causes apart from low testosterone. In fact, ED is oftentimes the symptom of a more serious health problem, and treating that underlying problem may alleviate ED. The following medical conditions can all contribute to ED:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Physical injury that impedes erectile function.

In many cases, low testosterone is found alongside one or more of these other risks factors, and together they all contribute to ED. For this reason, ED treatment may need to be multi-factorial in order to address the spectrum of causes.

Resources

Lakin, M. (n.d.). Erectile dysfunction. Retrieved January 16, 2010 from the Cleveland Clinic Web site: http://www.clevelandclinicmeded.com/medicalpubs/diseasemanagement/endocrinology/erectile-dysfunction/.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2008). Hypogonadism. Retrieved January 16, 2010 from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/male-hypogonadism/DS00300/DSECTION=complications.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2008). Erectile dysfunction. Retrieved January 16, 2010 from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/erectile-dysfunction/DS00162.

Rajfer, J. (2000). Relationship Between Testosterone and Erectile Dysfunction. Reviews in Urology, 2(2), 122-128.

WebMD, LLC. (2008). Testosterone. Retrieved January 14, 2010 from the WebMD Web site: http://men.webmd.com/testosterone-15738.