Testosterone is an essential hormone for healthy male function. In men, testosterone plays a key role in the development of reproductive tissues such as the testes and prostate, as well as promoting secondary sexual characteristics such as increased muscle and bone mass, and the growth of body hair.
When it comes to sexual health it is also one of the most misunderstood aspects. Many people believe that low testosterone can cause erectile issues.
In today’s article we will explore what usually happens when there is low testosterone in a man’s system.
Outside of sexual dysfunction, other symptoms of low testosterone include loss of muscle mass, loss of body hair and facial hair, increased body fat, and loss of bone density.
Low Testosterone and Low Libido
Researchers still struggle to understand how testosterone increases libido. It’s fairly normal for a man’s sex drive to slowly decline after his teens and 20s, but libido varies widely between men.
For example, what one man might consider a low sex drive, another might not. Also, sex drive is affected by stress, sleep, and opportunities for sex.
For these reasons, defining a ‘healthy’ or ‘normal’ sex drive is very difficult. Usually, each man must identify his own lack of sex drive as a problem.
Low testosterone is one of the possible causes of low libido. If testosterone is lowered far enough, virtually all men will experience some decline in sex drive.
In a large study of men in Massachusetts, about 11% overall said they had a lack of sex drive. The researchers then tested all the men’s testosterone levels. About 28% of men with low testosterone had low libido. These men were relatively young, with an average age of 47; older men might have worse sexual symptoms.
Keep in mind that low testosterone is only one of the causes of low libido. Stress, sleep deprivation, depression, and chronic medical illnesses can also diminish a man’s sex drive.
Low Testosterone and Erectile Dysfunction
Contrary to some reports, low testosterone itself rarely causes erectile dysfunction. or ED.
Erection problems are usually caused by atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of the arteries. If damaged, the tiny blood vessels supplying the penis can no longer dilate to bring in the strong flow needed for a firm erection.
This is why diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, and high cholesterol are the three main causes of atherosclerosis and are linked with erectile dysfunction.
Low testosterone is a frequent ‘accomplice’ to atherosclerosis in creating erectile dysfunction.
Experts believe that in men with other factors causing erectile dysfunction, low testosterone can strongly contribute, making a difficult situation even worse.
Strengthening the connection, low testosterone is linked in some way with many of the conditions that lead to erectile dysfunction:
- Metabolic syndrome
- Endothelial dysfunction
Although low testosterone isn’t known to cause them, the associations between other medical conditions and low testosterone can be significant.
Treatment for Low Testosterone Levels
Testosterone therapy improves sex drive and satisfaction with sex in many men. If you are concerned that you may have lower testosterone levels it is wise to seek the advice of a doctor.