Erectile dysfunction is a common problem in many males of a certain age -- but that doesn't mean you must resign yourself to living with the condition. In many cases, the inability to achieve or maintain an erection is directly related to low levels of a hormone called testosterone. If you suffer from "low T," as this problem is commonly called, you have a number of options for addressing this imbalance, from testosterone supplementation to lifestyle changes that can improve your hormone production.
The Link Between Testosterone and Male Sexual Function
Testosterone is the hormone that quite literally turns boys into men. (It also plays important roles in women's health.) When the male gonads start producing testosterone, the hormone triggers the development of secondary sex characteristics such as a deeper voice and body hair. It's also a major factor in the male sex drive. When sexual desire wanes, so does the ability to maintain an erection. While erectile dysfunction may be directly related to other physical problems such as diabetes, circulatory problems or thyroid imbalances, an unreliable sex drive can greatly aggravate the situation. Low testosterone may also cause other symptoms as well, from chronic fatigue to breast growth.
Why Testosterone Levels Drop
Testosterone levels naturally drop with age, usually starting around the age of 30. This drop, however, doesn't necessarily cause erectile dysfunction, even if your sex drive seems to decline slightly. Liver problems, kidney disease, testicular injury or testicular cancer are other possible causes of lowered testosterone levels.
Low T Treatment Options
Doctors typically recommend low T treatment once testosterone levels drop significantly below the normal range. If you're only producing one-third to one-half of this range, you may benefit from testosterone supplementation. The supplement used may be a synthetic drug that mimics testosterone's effects, or it may be a bioidentical hormone taken from natural sources. You can receive low T therapy through injections or topical gels, but you're more likely to get consistent, long-lasting results by having a slow-release testosterone pellet inserted into your hip, just below the skin.
Other Treatment Strategies
Supplementation isn't the only strategy that can help you in your battle against low T. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle practices such as exercise, weight loss, and giving up smoking. These healthy practices may help to reverse or control other causes of ED as well. If it turns out that your ED isn't related to low testosterone, you might benefit from drugs such as sildenafil.
Don't just accept erectile dysfunction as a fact of life. Schedule a medical evaluation to uncover the underlying cause of your problem and explore your available ED treatment options!