Written by Ben Bunting: BA(Hons), PGCert.
Men’s health has gained immense importance in the recent years. For years, males have been seen to neglect their health and avoid selfcare. Oftentimes, both their mental and physical health goes unchecked. This lack of selfcare in men along with a generally high-stress life, many suffer from various complications. One of the problems that arises frequently in young and middle-aged adults is erectile dysfunction. It is more common that you think!
Subsequently, there is a lot of discussion around testosterone and its effects on the body. One of the most common questions surrounding testosterone is whether it can help with erectile dysfunction. We will explore the link between low testosterone in men and erectile dysfunction, as well as potential testosterone boosting treatments.
What is Testosterone?
Of the many hormones or tiny chemical messengers your body produces, testosterone is a big one of the list. Testosterone is a steroid hormone produced by the human body. For simplification, steroid hormones are derived from cholesterol (fat) and can act on any cell of the body including the brain cells.
Testosterone is responsible for the development of male sex organs and characteristics, such as a deep voice and facial hair. Testosterone also plays a role in bone, muscle, and brain development. In men, testosterone levels peak during puberty, adolescence, and early adulthood. After age 30, testosterone levels gradually decline. However, low testosterone levels may occur at any point in a male’s life and can cause problems such as reduced sex drive and depressed mood which in return may cause secondary erectile dysfunction.1,2
Erectile Dysfunction and Low Testosterone
Erectile dysfunction, according to many sources, is described as problem with penile erection. It is diagnosed if a man is unable to get an erection or maintain erection even without adequate sexual stimulation. It can be primary or secondary. In primary erectile dysfunction, the problem arises within the penis. Conversely, secondary erectile dysfunction is caused by an underlying condition; for instance, major depressive disorder (MDD). Erectile dysfunction associated with mental health conditions is frequently termed as psychogenic erectile dysfunction.3
Astonishingly, nearly 35% of males that suffer from erectile dysfunction have low testosterone levels or hypogonadism4–7 . In most cases, hypogonadism onset occurs later in a male’s life. At the age of 40 nearly 5% of males will have developed erectile dysfunction. This prevalence percentage shoots up to 15% by age 704,8. Therefore, it could be easy to assume that age is the only factor that adversely affects erectile function.
This is far from the truth because male hypogonadism can happen at any time and for a range of reason’s in a man’s life. Male hypogonadism is defined as a condition in which the body does not produce as much testosterone needed by the body for the development of secondary sexual characteristics and maturation of sperm for reproduction9. There is also another subset of hypogonadism that stem not from problems within the gonads but from the hypothalamus or pituitary gland in the brain. It is referred as secondary hypogonadism. It results from the dysfunction of these glands causing a cascade of lower overall testosterone in the body9.
Symptoms associated with low testosterone in men along with erectile dysfunction include: infertility, decrease in overall hair growth, decrease in muscle mass, gynecomastia or enlargement of breast issue, and osteoporosis (loss of bone mass).
Erectile Dysfunction ICD 10
ICD-10-CM is a standard directory that specifies codes for the diagnosis of various diseases. Erectile dysfunction ICD 10 code is N52.9. This code is frequently used by doctors, in prescriptions, bills, and much more. It is applicable to all males aged 15-124 years of age. According to this erectile dysfunction ICD-10-CM, erectile dysfunction is a condition in which a man is unable to have or retain an erection.
Is Erectile Dysfunction Treatable?
Fortunately, for most people erectile dysfunction is treatable. The treatment options include lifestyle modifications, diet alterations, supplementation, and hormone replacement therapy. Apart from these treatments, many people undergo psychotherapy and mental support therapies for the treatment of psychogenic erectile dysfunction.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy: The Perfect Solution?
Erectile dysfunction can be treated with testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). It involves taking supplemental testosterone to bring those levels up to where they should be. It seems like the perfect way to mitigate the negative effects low testosterone in young men. Testosterone replacement therapy can be taken in the form of injections, gels, or patches.
One of the most common methods is to inject testosterone directly into the muscles. This method allows the testosterone to be slowly absorbed into the bloodstream and provides consistent levels of the hormone. Another common method is to implant pellets of testosterone under the skin. This method is good for delivering consistent levels of testosterone but requires more frequent treatment than injections.
Testosterone replacement therapy can take many forms, but one of the most popular is through gels or creams that are applied directly to the skin. AndroGel and Testim are two such products, and they come in packets of clear testosterone gel. The gel is applied once a day, and the testosterone is absorbed directly through the skin. AndroGel, Axiron, and Fortesta also come in a pump that delivers the amount of testosterone prescribed by your doctor. Natesto is a type of gel applied to inside the nose and is absorbed via the nasal tissue. All of these products are designed to raise testosterone levels in men who are suffering from low testosterone
Conveniently, Androderm is a skin patch that is applied once a day to raise hormone levels. The patch is worn on the arm or upper body, and it is available in different sizes. Androderm is a prescription medication, and it should be used under the supervision of a healthcare provider. The most common side effects of Androderm include itching, redness, and irritation at the site of application. Androderm should not be used if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in the patch. Androderm is a safe and effective way to raise testosterone levels, and it can be used by men of all ages.
Finally, Striant is a unique delivery system for testosterone replacement therapy. The tablet is designed to adhere to the upper gums, just above the incisor teeth. The location is chosen because it provides a good source of blood flow for absorption of the medication. The tablet contains a reservoir of testosterone that is released into the bloodstream over a 12-hour period. This provides a steady level of testosterone in the blood, which is necessary for the proper function of many-body systems. Side effects are minimal, and the only common one is mild gum irritation.
Benefits of Testosterone Replacement Therapy
There are a number of potential benefits associated with TRT, including improved energy levels, increased muscle mass, and improved sexual function. In addition, testosterone replacement therapy may also help to protect against osteoporosis and heart disease. While there are some risks associated with this treatment, these risks are generally outweighed by the potential benefits for most men.
Risks Associated with Testosterone Replacement Therapy
While testosterone replacement therapy can provide many benefits, there are also a number of potential risks and disadvantages associated with the treatment. One of the most serious potential complications is the development of blood clots, which can lead to strokes or heart attacks.
In addition, testosterone therapy can also cause sleep apnea, swelling in the feet and ankles, and an enlarged prostate. In some cases, it can also lead to mood swings and irritability. As a result, it is important to discuss the risks and benefits of testosterone replacement therapy with your doctor before starting treatment.
Other Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
While erectile dysfunction is often thought of as a physical problem, there are many other causes that can contribute to the condition10. For instance, psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, and depression can all interfere with sexual function and can have a complex relationship with ED11. In addition, certain medications, such as those used to treat high blood pressure or depression, can also cause erectile dysfunction. The commonly used SSRIs (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) are notorious for causing erectile dysfunction.
Additionally, lifestyle choices such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to difficulties achieving and maintaining an erection. Consequently, it is important to consult with a doctor to determine the underlying cause of the problem
Other Possible Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction
ED can be caused by a variety of factors, including low testosterone levels, anxiety, depression, and stress. Luckily, there are a number of treatments that can help to improve sexual performance.
One option for treating ED is to take medication such as Viagra or Cialis. These medications work by increasing blood flow to the penis. The increased blood flow allows a man to sustain an erection long enough for sex and therefore reproduce. Another option is to use mechanical devices that increase blood flow to the penis. These mechanical pumps use suction to draw blood into the penis and create an erection.
Often times, erectile dysfunction can be psychologically-induced. Fortunately, there are effective treatments available for psychologically induced ED. In many cases, therapy can help to identify and address the underlying issues that are contributing to the problem. By working with a qualified therapist, men can develop the tools to overcome psychological ED and reclaim their sexual confidence. In addition, medication may also be prescribed in some cases to help relieve symptoms.
Low testosterone and erectile dysfunction are inter-related conditions and they are fairly common in the male population. Low testosterone is one of the main culprits in causing problems with erection. For many men suffering from erectile dysfunction, testosterone therapy can seem like a panacea. After all, testosterone is the hormone responsible for sexual desire, and low levels of testosterone have been linked to erectile dysfunction.
However, while testosterone therapy may improve sexual function in some men, it is not a cure-all for erectile dysfunction. Contrarily, a handful of men experience improvement in their sexual function with lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. As a result, it is important to consult with a doctor before starting any type of hormone therapy. A thorough evaluation will help you determine the cause of your erectile dysfunction.
- Halpern JA, Brannigan RE. Testosterone Deficiency. JAMA. 2019;322(11):1116-1116. doi:10.1001/JAMA.2019.9290
- Nassar GN, Leslie SW. Physiology, Testosterone. StatPearls. Published online January 4, 2022. Accessed May 20, 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526128/
- Rosen RC. PSYCHOGENIC ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION: Classification and Management. Urologic Clinics. 2001;28(2):269-278. doi:10.1016/S0094-0143(05)70137-3
- Hwang TIS, Lin YC. The relationship between hypogonadism and erectile dysfunction. Int J Impot Res. 2008;20(3):231-235. doi:10.1038/SJ.IJIR.3901633
- Chen KK, Chiang HS, Jiann BP, et al. Prevalence of erectile dysfunction and impacts on sexual activity and self-reported intercourse satisfaction in men older than 40 years in Taiwan. Int J Impot Res. 2004;16(3):249-255. doi:10.1038/SJ.IJIR.3901218
- Hafez ESE, Hafez SD. Erectile dysfunction: Anatomical parameters, etiology, diagnosis, and therapy. Archives of Andrology. 2005;51(1):15-31. doi:10.1080/1485010490475147
- Hatzichristou D, Hatzimouratidis K, Bekas M, Apostolidis A, Tzortzis V, Yannakoyorgos K. Diagnostic Steps In The Evaluation Of Patients With Erectile Dysfunction. The Journal of Urology. 2002;168(2):615-620. doi:10.1016/S0022-5347(05)64690-3
- Feldman HA, Goldstein I, Hatzichristou DG, Krane RJ, McKinlay JB. Impotence and its medical and psychosocial correlates: results of the Massachusetts Male Aging Study. J Urol. 1994;151(1):54-61. doi:10.1016/S0022-5347(17)34871-1
- Richard-Eaglin A. Male and Female Hypogonadism. Nurs Clin North Am. 2018;53(3):395-405. doi:10.1016/J.CNUR.2018.04.006
- Tsametis CP, Isidori AM. Testosterone replacement therapy: For whom, when and how? Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental. 2018;86:69-78. doi:10.1016/J.METABOL.2018.03.007
- Makhlouf A, Kparker A, Niederberger CS. Depression and Erectile Dysfunction. Urologic Clinics of North America. 2007;34(4):565-574. doi:10.1016/J.UCL.2007.08.009