Erectile dysfunction can be one of the common symptoms of low testosterone. Find out more about the connection between the two conditions and how to treat them.
By Wyatt Myers
Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
Many symptoms, both physical and emotional, can result from low testosterone. And because testosterone is tied to arousal, perhaps the most obvious symptoms for men are a low sex drive and erectile dysfunction, or ED.
Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
If you’re struggling with erectile dysfunction, the problem may be more complicated than just low testosterone. Although it’s true that a reduction in the sex hormone testosterone can cause a lack of sexual desire that, in turn, leads to trouble getting or maintaining an erection, there are many causes of erectile dysfunction, some of which have nothing to do with testosterone.
For example, problems with blood flow related to diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure, or years of alcohol and tobacco use can be causes of erectile dysfunction that are completely independent of testosterone. In these instances, not enough blood flows to the penis, which leads to erectile dysfunction. In other instances, erectile dysfunction can be more of a psychological problem related to anxiety, stress, or depression. Other causes of erectile dysfunction include the use of certain medications or medical procedures, and even certain injuries, such as damage to the testes.
Is Low Testosterone Causing My Erectile Dysfunction?
With all the different causes of erectile dysfunction, it’s often difficult to determine whether it’s a symptom of low testosterone or something else. One clue is whether other symptoms of low testosterone are also present, such as a reduced sex drive, anxiety, irritability, difficulty concentrating, or depression.
The best way to find out for sure is with the guidance of a qualified doctor. “It’s important to have your doctor evaluate erectile dysfunction to determine if it may be the result of underlying cardiovascular disease, psychogenic causes like stress or performance anxiety, or potentially due to very low testosterone,” says J. Aaron Davis, ND, director of the Low T Center in Indianapolis.
Advice for Men With Erectile Dysfunction and Low Testosterone
Although trying to have sex with erectile dysfunction can cause physical and emotional challenges, many experts agree that erectile dysfunction related to low testosterone is highly treatable, and can be remedied with the right combination of lifestyle changes and medical treatments. “Clinical research data has explored the influence of testosterone replacement therapy on erectile dysfunction and found that in many men with identified low testosterone, testosterone replacement therapy can provide a positive influence on erectile function,” Dr. Davis says. “In some cases, testosterone replacement alone can have a restorative influence on erectile function.” However, in more severe cases of ED, Davis says that the combination of testosterone replacement therapy and medication for ED may provide the best outcome.
Gregory Lowe, MD, a urologist with Wexner Medical Center at The Ohio State University in Columbus, also suggests improving certain health habits for additional support in your fight against erectile dysfunction and low testosterone. “Strength training exercises and attempting new challenges will often improve these issues,” Dr. Lowe says, who also emphasizes the importance of a positive attitude. “Recognizing the effect that low testosterone can have on emotions and physical strength can help improve how men experience and deal with