As a man, your testosterone levels play a key role in many aspects of your sexual desire and function, including your general level of interest in sex.
As such, it might seem logical that low levels of testosterone can result in erectile dysfunction (ED). However, the relationship between your testosterone levels and your erections is a little more complicated.
While testosterone definitely plays a role in your sexual function, many men with low levels of testosterone (also referred to as low-T or hypogonadism) can get erections just fine.
On the other hand, many guys with healthy testosterone levels find it hard to get and maintain an erection during sex.
Below, we’ve discussed testosterone’s role in male sexual health and performance, as well as the effects that low testosterone may have on your sex life.
We’ve also listed other common symptoms you may experience if you have low testosterone levels, as well as the steps that you can take to remedy this.
Everything You Need to Know About Testosterone
Testosterone is the main male sex hormone in your body. It’s produced in your testes and plays a key role in everything from the development of your musculoskeletal system to secondary sex characteristics such as your voice and body hair.
Beyond its obvious effects on the physical side of being a man, testosterone is also responsible for many aspects of your cognitive function.
As a man, it’s normal to have a total testosterone level between 300 and 1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) or 10 and 35 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L).
Testosterone levels usually decline with age. Most men reach their peak testosterone levels in their 30s, after which the amount of testosterone produced by their testicles gradually declines to a lower level.
If your testosterone levels are below this range or unusually low relatively to your age, you may be diagnosed with low testosterone, or low-T.
Low testosterone can affect men in all age groups. However, it’s most common in middle-aged and older men.
According to data published in the journal Frontiers in Endocrinology, approximately 40 percent of men over 45 and 50 percent of men in their 80s are hypogonadal, meaning their bodies don’t produce enough testosterone to place them in the normal reference range.
In younger men, low testosterone isn’t so common. According to the Urology Care Foundation, only around one percent of young men are affected by low testosterone, although reliable data isn’t very easy to come by.
Low testosterone can develop for a variety of reasons, ranging from medical issues to lifestyle factors.
In addition to aging and obesity, common causes of low testosterone include testicular damage, autoimmune diseases, infections and metabolic syndrome -- a cluster of medical conditions that includes high blood pressure (hypertension), high blood sugar and fat around the waist.
In some cases, testosterone levels may be low because of genetic conditions, such as Noonan syndrome or Klinefelter syndrome, or due to certain types of medication.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.