Low Testosterone Linked to Erectile Dysfunction

Drugs such as Viagra, Levitra and Cialis are the principal treatments for erectile dysfunction. They increase secretion of nitric oxide by the cells lining the blood vessels of the penis. They work by inhibiting cGMP-specific phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5), an enzyme that is important in regulating blood flow. These drugs are effective in about 70 percent of men. Testosterone has an important effect on sex drive and sexual performance. Low testosterone impairs metabolic health, promotes obesity and plays an important role in promoting erections. A study on rats by Chinese scientists found that testosterone supplements improved erectile function by stimulating the ERK1/2 pathway, which has a direct effect on the cellular DNA that controls sexual function. It works differently than drugs such as Viagra. Supplemental testosterone provides an additional treatment for erectile dysfunction. (Zhonghua Nan Ke Xue, 21: 967-972, 2015)

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