Testosterone and erectile physiology
AbstractThe role of testosterone deficiency in sexual dysfunction is an important aspect of aging, because it affects such a large proportion of men over 50 years old. A number of age-related factors can cause sexual dysfunction (in particular erectile dysfunction) and testosterone deficiency, such as chronic illness and multiple medications, and the causative link between hypogonadism and erectile dysfunction is still debated. However, studies in castrated animals have proven that addition of testosterone, and its conversion to dihydrotestosterone, can restore erectile function. It appears that testosterone achieves this by peripheral mechanisms (endothelial dependent and independent) and central mechanisms. Testosterone replacement therapy is therefore effective for erectile dysfunction in men with hypogonadism, with success rates of 35–40%. Testosterone supplementation is also important in men who fail on phosphodiesterase type-5 inhibitors, because a minimum plasma concentration of testosterone is required for the successful restoration of erectile function with these agents. Testosterone gels are now the preferred formulation for testosterone supplementation and they can be highly beneficial in a proportion of men with erectile dysfunction.