It is one of the most difficult challenges a man can have. Not because erectile dysfunction (ED) is life threatening—you can live the rest of your life without having sex. But it’s because having and maintaining an erection is viewed as so essential to masculinity. Worse still, it’s a condition that comes to the fore when you are in the midst of an intimate moment with someone you fancy. It’s a situation that at least one person will get to know of.
Enough with the bad news. Let’s get to the good stuff now. ED is treatable and many patients go on to have fulfilling sex lives. If you are contemplating testosterone boosters as a solution to your ED, I have collated for you the most essential information you need to know whether it will work for you.
What is erectile dysfunction?
When faced with a reduced level of testosterone, the body may show a wide variety of symptoms. The issue may expose itself as some pretty common symptoms, while others are a bit more specific.
What causes it?
There are dozens of causes and risk factors for ED. They fall into two broad categories:
- Physical causes
- Psychological causes
1. Physical causes
These are usually either cardiovascular or neurological.
2. Psychological causes
Here we are talking anxiety, depression and relationship problems.
How is testosterone connected to ED?
Experts believe erections do depend on testosterone. However, the science demonstrating the connection between testosterone and ED is still not completely firmed up. Men with sub-optimal testosterone have exhibited strong erections.
What has so far been established is the link between low testosterone and the medical conditions known to cause ED. These conditions include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity and any illness that inhibits normal blood flow.
How is it usually treated?
Treatment depends on what your doctor identifies as the root cause. Your doctor may first want to rule out psychological causes before they start to explore potential physical causes. If it is suspected to be psychological, counseling and psychotherapy would be the first weapon of choice.
If the cause is physical, expect a prescription of ED drugs known as PDE-5 inhibitors. Examples? Drugs you have heard of countless times — Viagra (sildenafil), Levitra (avanafil) and Cialis (tadalafil). They increase blood flow to the penis.
Some men with low testosterone do not respond to ED drugs. So you could be placed on testosterone treatment therapy (TRT) as well. In this context, TRT is usually prescribed as a means to boost your sex drive and not necessarily cure the ED. Hence the need to combine it with ED drugs (see AUA guideline statement 12).
Can testosterone boosters help?
This goes back to the tenuous connection between testosterone and ED we have talked about. Just like TRT, using testosterone boosters alone to tackle ED is unlikely to be effective. But in the same way as TRT, the increased testosterone from the use of testosterone boosters does complement the positive effects of psychotherapy and/or ED drugs.
Testosterone boosters do have one major advantage over TRT—safety. TRT involves the introduction of synthetic testosterone and this poses such a significant risk to long term health that the FDA issued a warning on its use. Testosterone boosters only stimulate the body’s own testosterone production. As a plus, the monthly cost of using testosterone boosters can be as low as 2.5 percent that of TRT.
Are there any alternatives to T-boosters?
Other than TRT and testosterone boosters, there are other avenues of boosting testosterone:
Certain foods have a positive impact on testosterone and libido.
Exercise is good for different facets of sexual health including testosterone production and libido. Don’t forget the dopamine hit that can aid the fight against both physical and psychological causes of ED.
Testosterone levels are at their peak during REM sleep. If you are not catching enough sleep, you are inhibiting the body’s testosterone production.
Studies have long found a link between vitamin D and testosterone. Make time for the outdoors, something that is easy to overlook in these times when a lot of people spend their entire work day at an office.
Testosterone is at the core of sexual desire. If your body is not producing it in sufficient quantities, you may see decreased libido. Testosterone boosters should not be the first thing you turn to when you are struggling with ED.
There isn’t yet an iron-clad connection between testosterone and erection strength. But if your ED is accompanied by a low testosterone diagnosis, the doctor may want to tackle the testosterone problem as part of an all-rounded solution.