If your erectile dysfunction is a result of low testosterone, oral ED medications may not be the answer.
As a physician that treats men for both low testosterone, and erectile dysfunction (ED), I am often asked “does low testosterone cause ED?”
The simple answer is: Maybe.
Low testosterone and ED are those kinds of medical conditions that we refer to as “co-morbid.” That means they often occur in the same man at the same time, but we cannot say definitively if one “causes” the other.
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Still, we know that declining levels of testosterone certainly effect sexual desire and sexual function. We also know that testosterone is essential for normal erectile function, however the exact role it plays in getting an erection is still unclear. It is also unclear how low your testosterone has to drop, before it affects your ability to get an erection. Some men who have been diagnosed with low testosterone, or Low-T, do not have erectile difficulties.
Low T, Erectile Dysfunction, and Oral ED Drugs
As you can see, the relationship between low testosterone and ED is complicated. But, one thing we do know is, that if low testosterone is the root cause of your erectile dysfunction, the most common oral ED medications may not help you. Multiple clinical studies have shown a direct causal relationship between Low-T and decreases in libido, or sex drive. A decreased libido may not necessarily cause ED, but a lack of sexual desire, can negatively impact your ability to gain, or maintain an erection.
Viagra and the rest of the most commonly prescribed oral ED medications all fall into a class of drugs known as PDE5 inhibitors. They all work basically the same way, and improve your physical ability to get and maintain an erection. They are not designed to have any impact on libido. Viagra and related drugs do not do anything to increase sexual desire.
More importantly, if low testosterone is your problem, these drugs cannot do anything to increase your testosterone levels.
Research has shown that in men with other factors causing erectile dysfunction, low testosterone can contribute, and make the problem worse. This is also because low testosterone is strongly related to other conditions that impact nerve sensitivity and blood flow.
Low testosterone is linked in some way with many of the conditions that increase the risk of erectile dysfunction such as:
- Heart Disease
This means that many men with low T are likely to be suffering from one or more of the above conditions. These are the very conditions for which Viagra and the other oral ED drugs are contraindicated. Therefore this is another reason, why men with Low-T and ED, may not be able to take Viagra or other prescription ED drugs.
For such men there are other treatment options available, that may include testosterone replacement therapy. However, we need to first find out if low testosterone is at the root of, or a major contributing factor to, your sexual difficulties.
Related Article: What to do When ED Medication Don’t Work?
Whether your ED is related to low testosterone or not, you need to know that oral ED medications are no longer your only, or even your best option, to deal with ED issues.
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