Can Low Testosterone Cause ED?
Posted: February 9, 2021
We’ve all heard that testosterone is the main hormone for men, right? So, could low testosterone cause erectile dysfunction (ED)? The answer is a little more complex than you might think. However, there’s some evidence that testosterone may play a role in sexual health and erections.
Around ⅓ of men in the U.S. suffer from ED. Your risk for ED increases with age, much like your risk for low testosterone. This has led many researchers to look into a possible link between testosterone levels and erectile dysfunction. The key to remember is that ED is a complex condition that can have multiple different causes and effects, so symptoms, severity, and treatment may be different for each person.
What’s the Difference Between ED and Low Testosterone?
What exactly is ED? This is where you have trouble getting an erection, maintaining an erection, or you’re dissatisfied with the quality of your erection.
By contrast, low testosterone is where you have lower levels of the hormone testosterone. Low T can be due to lower levels of free testosterone circulating in your blood, or lower levels of bioavailable testosterone because it’s bound to proteins called sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG).
Some symptoms of low T include:
- Weight gain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of muscle mass
- Depression, irritability, or anxiety
- Low libido
- Reduced erectile function
While these conditions are different, there is some overlap and there may be a connection between the two.
How Low Testosterone Levels Affect Sex
When it comes to low testosterone, many of the symptoms can affect your sex life. For example, low libido can make you less interested in sex. Low energy levels can also make it difficult to take part in an active and rigorous sex life. However, there are some other symptoms that may indirectly affect sex.
Mood changes like depression, irritability, and anxiety can also take a toll on your sex life. They can make it difficult to be interested in sex or may lead to relationship problems that affect intimacy with your partner.
Mood changes and body changes like weight gain and loss of muscle mass can also lead to feeling self-conscious, which can make it hard to engage in the bedroom. Many men start to avoid sexual situations when they feel embarrassed about their body.
There’s also a chance that low testosterone levels can also affect erectile function. While research is still out on just how significant a role testosterone plays in erections, some evidence suggests that it may influence erections, either directly or indirectly.
How ED Affects Sex
ED, like low testosterone, can also affect your sex life. Trouble with erections, whether difficulty getting one or keeping one, can make sex more challenging for many men. This can lead to a dissatisfactory sex life and having sex less often.
Also, many men with ED experience anxiety and embarrassment due to the condition. They may worry they won’t be able to please their partner, or they may be less likely to seek help from a doctor out of embarrassment. Once again, feeling self-conscious or anxious can also cause issues for a person’s sex life.
Erectile dysfunction can also lead to reduced libido, a common symptom of low testosterone. Many patients feel less interested in sex when they have ED. So, as you can see, both low T and ED can affect your sex life, and they also share some common symptoms and effects.
Can Low Testosterone Cause ED?
Many men ask whether low testosterone is causing their ED. The simple answer is that there’s no simple answer. Some men with ED have low testosterone, but some have normal testosterone levels. Also, not every man with low T experiences erectile dysfunction.
There are several different things that can cause ED, including hormones, heart and vessel problems, relationship problems, and mental health conditions. The most common cause of erectile dysfunction is a hardening of your arteries, also known as atherosclerosis. However, severely low testosterone can also cause ED.
Many men with ED also have low testosterone levels. One study found that about ⅓ of men with ED also had low T. Also, both are often associated with the same conditions, including:
- Metabolic syndrome
Because low testosterone and erectile dysfunction often accompany each other, many doctors will test your testosterone levels if you have ED.
It’s also important to note that low testosterone can cause symptoms that may make it difficult to get or maintain an erection, such as depression and low libido. This can further complicate the link between the two conditions.
Fortunately, both these conditions are often treatable, so making a healthcare appointment is often the first step toward feeling better again.
Does Testosterone Replacement Help with Erections?
While testosterone replacement isn’t generally the first-line therapy for treating ED, some studies suggest it may help. In men with both low testosterone and ED, some studies have found that testosterone injections can help with erections, as well as other symptoms of low T like fatigue and libido.
Research of using TRT for erectile dysfunction is still ongoing. However, one study found that 40-60% of men with both ED and low T noted improvements with erections. So, if you have ED and other symptoms of low testosterone like low libido, low energy, or loss of muscle, our provider may recommend starting a testosterone replacement regimen to help. However, not everyone notices significant improvements in erectile function with TRT, so you may need more traditional ED medications, like sildenafil.
Some men even respond better to sildenafil when taking testosterone if they have both ED and low testosterone. Researchers are still studying this, but it makes sense because though sildenafil helps increase blood flow to the penis, it likely won’t help with low libido due to low T.
Address Your Symptoms and Start the Path Toward Better Health at Low T Center
Our team at Low T Center is here to help you take control of your health. We’re dedicated to reinventing men’s health by providing healthcare solutions customized to your lifestyle. Our providers are here to help you find underlying causes of your symptoms and provide personalized treatment plans suited to your needs. Start optimizing your health today by making an appointment at your nearest Low T Center.
Disclaimer: This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of Low T Center. You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.