What type of hormonal problems lead to erectile dysfunction?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Hormones are important players in the process that produces an erection. Problems with certain hormones can cause erectile dysfunction.

Your body is brimming with all kinds of hormones, which are chemical messengers that trigger an unfathomable number of different biological processes. One hormone in particular, testosterone, plays an important role in libido—that is, the desire to have sex. If a man's testosterone levels are low, he may lack interest in sex and be unable to have an erection.

If you see a doctor about erection problems, he or she may test your levels of testosterone and other hormones. If your tank is low, hormone-replacement therapy may help you overcome erectile dysfunction.

Many hormonal problems can lead to erectile dysfunction. Among the most common is a deficiency in testosterone. Low testosterone can be caused by injury to the testicles (either from an accident or from cancer treatment), cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, liver disease, kidney disease and obesity.

Some genetic conditions can reduce testosterone production, and so can some medications. Another cause of erectile function can be too much of the hormone prolactin. This is most often caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland. Also some kinds of thyroid disease may disrupt hormones in a way that leads to erectile dysfunction.

Hormones in the body fuel a man's sex drive (or libido). You might notice a change in your sex drive if you have swings in the levels of these two hormones:

  • A drop in testosterone (this hormone is responsible for your male characteristics)
  • A spike in prolactin contributes to jumps in low testosterone

The result? A lack of sexual desire, poor erections and a low sperm count, says the Hormone Health Network. The symptoms are often what bring men to see their doctor about erectile dysfunction (ED). Your doctor can order a blood test to see if a hormone problem is causing ED or problems with your sex drive.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.