Testosterone and Erectile Dysfunction: Benefits of Testosterone Supplementation
Testosterone and Erectile Dysfunction: Supplements
Testosterone and erectile dysfunction go hand in hand. Why? Because testosterone, the main sex hormone in men, is not only a necessary ingredient for libido, it also has a critical role in maintaining nitric oxide levels in the penis. Therefore men who have low testosterone levels may experience erectile dysfunction along with low libido and other side effects associated with low levels of this hormone.
The normal range of testosterone is 350 to 1,200 ng/dL (nanograms per deciliter), and what is considered to be “normal” for any man depends on his age. Testosterone levels are highest in men in their early twenties, and up to 50% of all men at age 40 have testosterone levels lower than what was once considered normal, 450 ng/dL. Although there is no definitive figure that identifies testosterone deficiency, 300 ng/dL is usually viewed to be at the lower limit of normal for a healthy man.
If you or your healthcare provider believe testosterone deficiency may be causing your erectile dysfunction, a simple blood test can identify your levels. At that point, you and your physician may discuss the benefits and risks of testosterone supplementation.
A June 2009 study noted that testosterone replacement therapy may provide many benefits for men who have low testosterone, including an improvement in libido and sexual function, bone density, muscle mass, mood, cognition, quality of life, and cardiovascular disease. The study also noted that there is “no evidence to support this risk” [stimulation of prostate cancer by testosterone]. (Bassil 2009)
Testosterone replacement therapy is not something you should do on your own: you need medical guidance. First, your doctor should conduct a physical exam and take a medical history if he or she has not already done so. You will then need a blood test panel that includes testosterone levels, PSA, fasting glucose, estradiol (estrogen), and complete blood counts. Along with the PSA level, a digital rectal exam (DRE) should be done as part of prostate cancer screening. Once it has been determined that you can safely take testosterone supplements, your doctor will determine the best approach.
Bioidentical testosterone cream is considered the best choice, because it is readily absorbed into the bloodstream and mimics the body’s natural hormone. Oral testosterone can be rapidly degraded in the liver and result in inconsistent blood levels of the hormone. Request a natural testosterone cream prepared by a compounding pharmacy, as the cost will be considerably less than name brand testosterone creams. You should have follow-up blood testing 30 to 60 days after starting testosterone therapy to make sure your PSA, estradiol, and other blood markers are within normal range. If your doctor finds that the testosterone is converting into estradiol at too high a level, he or she may recommend nutrients that can inhibit excess aromatase activity or prescribe a drug like Arimidex® to do the same. You need to have routine follow-up blood tests while on testosterone therapy.
Natural supplements can complement hormone replacement, or if you choose not to use hormone replacement, nutrients can be an important part of a program to reduce the impact of aging on testosterone and estrogen production. Some of the nutrients and supplements you can consider include those listed under Supplements for ED. One example is a combination of 160 mg of saw palmetto and pygeum twice a day. These herbs can potentially aid in blocking the conversion of testosterone to DHT. More on Supplements for Sexual Health