Low Testosterone and Erectile Dysfunction: What Does the Science Say?

Low Testosterone and Erectile Dysfunction

If you have low testosterone levels, there’s a chance you also suffer from low libido and sex drive, excess weight gain, mood swings, insomnia, and other health conditions.

But what about erectile dysfunction?

Is there any link between low testosterone and erectile dysfunction? And if it is, what can you do about it?

These are all excellent questions. We’ve made sure to find the answers by doing an extensive research – exploring what the science says.

Here you’ll find everything about low testosterone and erectile dysfunction. Be sure to keep reading to find out how they’re linked, their causes, and ways to treat them.

You can use the “Table of Contents” list below to easily navigate through the article.

What is Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile Dysfunction, or ED as its commonly called, is an inability to achieve or keep your erection strong enough for a sexual intercourse.

Before we go any further into explaining ED. Let’s take a look at what happens when you get an erection.

The male penis has two long, cylindrical masses (chambers) of tissue. They are called the corpora cavernosa. Each of these masses, or chambers, contains countless small blood vessels and one major artery.

When a male becomes aroused, his brain sends chemical signals to his penis – stimulating the blood vessels to dilate and allow for more blood to flow into the penis.

During this process, the blood gets stuck in the corpora cavernosa and doesn’t go back. This causes the penis to stay erect.

However, if the blood flow to the penis is too weak, or if it fails to stay trapped in the corpora cavernosa, it then leads to the infamous erectile dysfunction.

Who Suffers From Erectile Dysfunction?

You’d be forgiven for thinking that you’re one of the rare people suffering from ED. But that’s far from the truth.

Erectile dysfunction is extremely common. So common, in fact, that over 40% of men suffer from some type of ED by the time they reach their 40s. And by the age of 70, this number rises to a whopping 70%.[1]

But it isn’t just middle and older-aged gentlemen that suffer from this condition. Young males do too. According to modern research, an estimated prevalence of erectile dysfunction in young males is around 30%. [2]

It goes without saying, these statistics are concerning. Countless men suffer from this problem, and what’s worse, many of them don’t even know why.

If you’re one of these people, and you’re reading this article, good news! We’ve found some information that might help you out.

First off, let’s talk about the underlying causes of ED.

Main Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

Low testosterone is one of the possible causes of ED, but it’s not the most common one. So before we explain the link between low testosterone and erectile dysfunction, let’s look at some of the more common causes.

The first and most common one is a restricted blood flow to the penis. Which is a result of health issues such as high cholesterol, calcification of the arteries, and high blood pressure.

Erectile dysfunction can also appear as a result of emotional and mental problems. These include anxiety (especially performance anxiety), depression, and relationship issues. [47, 48]

Multiple sclerosis, injuries to the spine, and other neurology-related conditions can also cause ED. [3]

But the list doesn’t end here. Other common causes of ED include:

Alcohol

Too much alcohol is never a good thing. Not just for your overall health, but also for your reproductive organs.

Studies show that heavy alcohol consumption interferes with erections. However, the good news is, the effects are only temporary – lasting only while you’re intoxicated.

If you’re experiencing ED while sober, chances are alcohol doesn’t have anything to do with it. It could be another cause, such as:

Medications and Drugs

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that certain medications seriously affect male’s erections. And not in a good way.

There are a host of common medications that can cause erectile dysfunction. Including certain painkillers, anti-depressants, and even blood pressure drugs. [52]

However, never stop taking any medicines before consulting with your doctor.

Some street drugs like ecstasy (MDMA), speed, cocaine, and marijuana can also cause erectile problems in men. [53]

Stress

Being stressed is completely normal. In fact, stress is sometimes a good thing – it serves to keep us motivated and focused on the tasks ahead.

However, too much stress, and too often is when things go bad. Unfortunately, many of us live with this kind of stress, which slowly destroys us.

This constant stress is what causes numerous health problems, including low testosterone and erectile dysfunction. It’s certainly not easy to get in the mood for fun when you’re constantly being bombarded by stressful events.

Dealing with stress is a hard task, but it’s possible to manage it.

First and foremost, consider making certain lifestyle changes that will benefit your mood and lower stress levels. This includes regular exercise, a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep.

Relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga work great too –  if you’re into those kinds of things.

Weight Issues

Being overweight doesn’t only impact your self-esteem, it also affects your sexual performance.

Obese males are shown to have lower T-levels, which plays a role in regulating sex drive and erections.

Being overweight also leads to an increased blood pressure and hardening of the blood vessels, which further restricts blood flow to the penis. [4]

The Link Between Low Testosterone and Erectile Dysfunction

Okay, now onto the part we’ve all been waiting for.

Is there a link between low testosterone and erectile dysfunction, and if there is, what can you do to fix the problem?

Studies show us that yes, while it’s not extremely common, low testosterone can cause erectile dysfunction. [5]

If you have low levels of T flowing through your body, this might affect your sex life. One of the obvious signs to look for is low libido, but another symptom can be ED.

However, the relationship between low testosterone and erectile dysfunction is incredibly complex. So complex, in fact, that it’s yet to be fully understood by science.

One thing is clear though – low testosterone levels lead to a number of health problems that are involved in erectile dysfunction. These include obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and type 2 diabetes. [3]

Therefore, even if low testosterone isn’t the main cause of your erectile dysfunction, it’s still incredibly important to treat it to prevent further health complications.

How to Improve Your T-Levels

Okay, now that we know that low testosterone and erectile dysfunction are interlinked, let’s look at the ways you could improve your male hormone.

We’re only going to list natural and safe methods for improving testosterone.

We don’t want you to suffer from unnecessary side effects. Or even worse, potential health complications, due to unsafe compounds.

Regular Exercise

It’s common knowledge that regular exercise boosts overall health and well-being. Not just physical health, but mental too.

Interestingly, a sweaty gym session can improve your testosterone levels too.

A large study reveals that men who exercised consistently had higher baseline T-levels. It doesn’t even matter what age you are, either – elderly people exercising regularly increased their T-levels, reaction time, and overall athleticism just as much as the rest of the study group. [6, 7]

Just to paint the picture of how beneficial exercise is, let’s have a look at this study. It shows us that regular exercise had more impact on obese men’s testosterone levels than a weight loss diet.

And what’s the best exercise for boosting testosterone? According to research, it’s weightlifting, aka strength training. [8, 9]

If for some reason you can’t lift weights, there’s no need to get upset! Cardio and HIIT (High-Intensity-Interval Training) are also very effective at naturally increasing testosterone. [8, 9]

A Well-Balanced Diet

Surprise, surprise. Research suggests that the foods you eat have a big impact on your testosterone and other hormones.

If low testosterone and erectile dysfunction are troubling you. It could be due to your diet.

First and foremost, you should start paying attention to your calories and macros.

Specifically, make sure to eat enough protein. This will help you maintain a healthy muscle mass, along with aiding in fat loss. This indirectly translates to improved testosterone levels. [11, 12, 13]

Carbs are also important for your T-Levels. Research shows that carbs can help optimize your male hormone during intense exercise. Especially resistance training. [54, 55]

Looking at the research, it’s clear that a diet based on nutritious foods offers the biggest benefits. Make sure that each of your meals is well-balanced in terms of fats, proteins, and carbs. This will not only improve your testosterone levels, but also your overall health.

Minimize Stress

Hello stress, my old friend. We’ve already talked briefly about stress, but now we’re going even deeper.

You see, stress is everywhere around us. Fact is, in today’s hectic world, it’s virtually impossible to avoid it.

When you don’t deal with stress efficiently, your body produces excess amounts of cortisol in your blood. Now, don’t get me wrong, cortisol is a good thing – without it, your body wouldn’t be able to function normally.

However, too much cortisol can wreak havoc on your body. Leading to a number of health hazards, including low testosterone and erectile dysfunction. [14, 15, 16]

Unnaturally high levels of cortisol are horrendous for your testosterone. These two hormones completely contradict each other – when one raises, the other drops down.

What’s more, high cortisol levels and stress are linked to obesity, insulin insensitivity, and accumulation of harmful fat around your organs.

So as you can see, it’s not just testosterone and erectile dysfunction that are at stake here – your overall health gets affected just as much.

In order to minimize stress, make sure to get adequate rest. Specifically, focus on getting enough deep sleep. For most people, that’s between 7-9 hours per night. [28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33]

You should also minimize or at least cut back on stressful events in your life as much as possible.

Go out in nature, take a long walk, spend time with animals, read, meditate. Do anything that makes you feel relaxed and at ease.

Get Enough Vitamin D

Vitamin D is incredibly important for our overall health and testosterone levels. A lack of vitamin D can lead to a number of health problems, including low testosterone and erectile dysfunction.

The best and the most natural source of vitamin D3 is obviously the sun. If you can’t get it from the sun, however, make sure to take vitamin D in the form of a supplement.

Studies have proven that vitamin D deficiency leads to low testosterone and erectile dysfunction. Despite this, nearly half of the population in the United States is vitamin D deficient. An even higher number of people have sub-optimal levels of D3. [17, 18]

A large 1-year study has found that taking 3,000 IU of vitamin D daily increased men’s testosterone levels by roughly 25%. [19]

If you have problems with low testosterone and erectile dysfunction, make sure to check your vitamin D levels to check if that could be the underlying cause.

Take Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

There are certain supplements that can help restore your T-levels. Including specific vitamins, minerals, and testosterone boosters.

There was a study which proved how zinc and vitamin B supplements boosted sperm quality in men by a whopping 74%. Zinc was also shown to improve testosterone levels in athletes and those deficient in this mineral.

Other vitamins that can help boost your sex hormone and T-levels are A, C, and E. However, we need more research to determine just how effective they are. [10, 23, 24, 25]

Out of all the vitamins, Vitamin D has been shown to be most effective. So again, if you don’t get at least 20 minutes of sunlight per day, consider taking Vitamin D as a supplement. [19, 27, 28]

Take T-Boosting Herbs

High-quality testosterone boosters use herbs which are shown to aid in testosterone production.

Some of these herbs include:

  • Ashwagandha – It’s one of the most natural and studied herbs. It helps to reduce cortisol, a hormone that negatively affects testosterone. Along with directly improving testosterone levels in males – up to 17%. [34, 35, 36]
  • Mucuna Pruriens – It’s an ancient herb that contains L-DOPA, which is responsible for improving your well-being. Thanks to its healing effects, it helps to improve sleep and reduce stress, which indirectly helps with T-levels. It also reduces prolactin levels which further encourages the production of testosterone. [37, 38, 39]
  • Stinging Nettle – It’s an aromatase inhibitor, meaning it helps to reduce estrogen production. This, in turn, helps boost your T-levels. [40, 41]
  • Fenugreek – Found across Mediterranian coasts. Fenugreek contains seeds which show promise when it comes to boosting free testosterone in males. In a study linked below, Fenugreek supplementation raised their free testosterone levels by an incredible 46%. [42, 43]

Other Methods of Treating ED

If your erectile dysfunction is caused by low testosterone, then make sure to go over the solutions we mentioned above.

A healthy lifestyle, diet, exercise, and sleep all play a key role in maintaining healthy erections.

However, if you already have all of these under control, and if your ED isn’t caused by low T, then here are the other ways you could treat your condition:

Natural Herbs and Remedies

Some men have successfully treated their ED with natural remedies. However, always be sure to check for the quality of ingredients before ingesting these compounds.

Some ingredients are unfortunately untested and outright dangerous. For this reason, we’ve decided to research only the best and safest ingredients that are backed up by science.

What we came up with is this list. There you’ll find the best natural herbs and ingredients for boosting T-levels, improving libido, and helping with erectile dysfunction.

Okay, so what are the best remedies for treating ED specifically? Here’s the list:

  • Korean Red Ginseng [46]
  • Asparagus Racemosus (Shatavari) [44]
  • DHEA [45]

There are other ingredients that might help with erectile dysfunction. However, most of them are backed up by anecdotal evidence, so I decided not to include them on this list. If you want to see the full list which includes testosterone enhancers, click here.

Specific Foods

There are certain foods that can help you with erectile dysfunction. Some of them contain beneficial compounds which improve blood flow, thus enhancing your erections.

Here’s the list:

  • Dark leafy greens and beets – Due to their nitrate-rich profile, leafy green veggies and beets help to improve blood flow to your penis. [50]
  • Dark chocolate – Dark chocolate is rich with flavonoids and anti-oxidants which help improve circulation. This, in turn, supports healthy erections. [56]
  • Oysters – Oysters have long been known as an aphrodisiac. That’s because of their high zinc content, which is shown to benefit male reproductive organs and testosterone levels. However, if you don’t fancy eating oysters, you can always take them in the form of a supplement. Top testosterone boosters often use Oyster Extract as one of their main ingredients. [51]
  • Watermelon – Watermelons are full of phytonutrients, which help improve blood flow. Watermelons also contain l-citrulline, which is responsible for dilating the blood vessels in your body. [57]

Talk Therapy

Erectile Dysfunction isn’t always caused by physical factors. As I mentioned, it can also come as a result of depression, stress, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. [47, 48]

If that’s the case, your best bet would be going to a talk therapy. And no, you’re not going insane.

Psychotherapy and talk therapy have recently become very popular. Especially among men who suffer from ED. Studies have also shown that this type of therapy can be extremely beneficial in treating ED. [49]

Talk therapy can help you improve your overall health and well-being, sometimes more than any other solution we mentioned above.

If ED affects your relationship. And nothing from the above works for you. Then it might be time to go talk to a qualified expert.

Conclusion

Okay, so there you have it. In case you missed anything, here’s a quick recap of what we learned about low testosterone and erectile dysfunction:

  • Although it’s not extremely common, low testosterone and erectile dysfunction are interlinked.
  • Other possible causes of ED include:
    • Unhealthy lifestyle
    • Stress
    • Lack of sleep
    • Cardiovascular problems
    • Drugs & medications
    • Mental health issues
  • If your ED is caused by low testosterone, then make sure to find ways to increase your T-levels. Natural ways of improving testosterone:
    • Regular strength training
    • Consume lots of healthy fats (nuts, avocados, coconut oil), proteins, and complex carbohydrates
    • Get enough sleep (7-9 hours per night)
    • Get enough vitamin D (20 minutes of sunlight per day or supplement 3,000+UI of D3)
    • Avoid stress (meditate, read, do yoga, etc.)
    • Take natural herbs and supplements.
  • If your ED isn’t caused by low testosterone, then try some of the following solutions:
    • Take natural herbs and supplements such as Ginseng, DHEA, and L-Arginine
    • Consume foods rich in nitrates and antioxidants
    • Go to a talk therapy

You can eliminate low testosterone and erectile dysfunction once and for all. But first, you have to find what’s causing them.

Once you know the cause of these conditions, especially ED, you can apply some of the solutions from above – helping you to lead a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle.

To see all the studies, simply click on the “Show References” text below.

References

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[1] http://www.clevelandclinicmeded.com/medicalpubs/diseasemanagement/endocrinology/erectile-dysfunction/

[2] https://www.smr.jsexmed.org/article/S2050-0521(17)30050-1/abstract

[3] https://www.webmd.com/erectile-dysfunction/erectile-dysfunction#1

[4] https://www.webmd.com/men/ss/slideshow-causes-of-ed

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1476110/

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22234399

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15204068

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17051372

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9660159

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3360302

[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10355847

[12] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14988451

[13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1984562

[14] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9629234

[15] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6348068

[16] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8884416

[17] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21310306

[18] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18400738

[19] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21154195

[20] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20446777

[21] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16648789

[22] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11872201

[23] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17004914

[24] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22731648

[25] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6816576

[26] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8875519

[27] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7271365

[28] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15824327

[29] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17969465

[30] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21300732

[31] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10543671

[32] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2398753/

[33] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21632481

[34] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24371462

[35] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23439798

[36] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26609282

[37] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1255091

[38] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2816389/

[39] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18973898

[40] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17238068

[41] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4405682/

[42] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2978122/

[43] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5278660/

[44] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13880200902755234

[45] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10096389

[46] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8750052

[47] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3170497

[48] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18391559

[49] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15146091

[50] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5707643/

[51] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5422695/

[52] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3834242/

[53] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18093094

[54] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9029197

[55] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21855365

[56] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4733263/

[57] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21195829

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