Total Shape is a reader-supported site. Purchases made through links may earn a commission. Learn more.

Can Testosterone Boosters Help With ED? (Science Based)

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: December 3, 2021

There are tons of testosterone boosters promising to help with erectile dysfunction (ED). Though they are advertised with stories about their users' incredible results, research suggests it is not the universal solution to ED.

I took the time to read scientific studies and asked for an expert's opinion to get the most accurate information.

Before we answer whether testosterone boosters help with ED, let's talk first about the link between low testosterone levels and ED.

Summary of the Key Findings

  • There are few conclusive studies available to prove that testosterone booster supplements effectively treat erectile dysfunction. 
  • Low testosterone may cause ED. However, ED is typically a blood flow issue and not hormonal.
  • Improving your lifestyle is a natural way to treat ED.
  • If natural ways don't work, doctors can recommend oral medications and TRT.
man using a tape measure on his crouch

It is a well-established fact that testosterone plays a vital role in men's sexual function.

Also, a review of relevant literature about the role of testosterone levels in erectile dysfunction was conducted.

Data showed that testosterone facilitates erection by acting as a vasodilator; it opens (dilates) the penile arteries [1].

Testosterone levels naturally decline as men age, and symptoms such as loss of body hair, low sex drive, fatigue, and erectile dysfunction may appear.

So, the common assumption is that low testosterone levels cause erectile dysfunction, but it's not always the case.

Lowered testosterone levels can cause ED, but it's not the leading cause. You can have low T but not have ED, or you can have ED although you have optimal levels of testosterone.

ED is mainly a vascular issue; it's about the blood flow and not a hormonal problem. Let's talk more about the other causes of ED in the next section.

Other Causes of ED

man touching his stomach and a man sleeping on table

Erectile dysfunction is usually caused by low blood circulation in the penis. And here are some of the causes:

Physical causes of ED

There are physical causes of ED, which include:

  • Vascular diseases- atherosclerosis, narrow blood vessels, and restricted blood flow in the penis [2].
  • Chronic disorders- diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, and prostate cancer [3].
  • Neurological conditions- multiple sclerosis, because the nerve signals can’t be transferred to reproductive organs [4].
  • Poor lifestyle habits, such as obesity, lack of exercise, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption anddrug addiction
  • Certain medications can also cause ED

Psychological causes of ED

Emotional or mental health problems can cause ED as well.

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Relational problems

Do Testosterone Boosters Help with ED?

T boosters can’t help with ED if you already have normal testosterone levels.

There is also little available data to support the idea that testosterone supplements or testosterone therapy can help erectile dysfunction.

Low testosterone levels are linked to erectile function, but they don’t necessarily cause ED [5].

Other factors and medical conditions can be at play. That means you'll need to address other causes too.

What’s more, doctors will only consider prescribing testosterone if other symptoms other than ED are present, such as low libido (sexual desire) and fatigue.

It does not always improve erectile function, but it’s one of the options for men with low testosterone.

Low T is more common among middle-aged or aging men, but certain injuries, metabolic syndromes, and lifestyle factors may also cause this condition.

5 Natural Alternatives that Help ED

man in bed, and another showing his salad bowl

Here are natural alternatives that help erectile dysfunction:

1. Healthy Diet

Poor lifestyle habits may also lead to ED, and that includes an unhealthy diet. Eating certain foods that improve vascular health may also be good for erection problems, and some even improve sexual performance.

Experts also recommend avoiding high-cholesterol foods that affect blood circulation, contributing to ED [6].

"Dietary cholesterol and saturated fat, which clog arteries, also impact blood circulation in the penis. So keep an eye on what you eat. High cholesterol is certainly one of the primary causes of ED. It seems to effect on erectile tissue." — Irwin Goldstein, MD, is director of sexual medicine at Alvarado Hospital

Some of the recommended food sources include:

  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Oysters and other shellfish
  • Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids
  • Pistachios
  • Dark chocolate

2. Regular Exercise

Doing even a 30-min of cardio exercise a day, three to four times a week can help improve your cardiovascular health.

Improving your cardio health also means improving the circulation within your body, which potentially helps erection dysfunction.

Related: Best Testosterone-Boosting Exercises

3. Minimizing Stress

Stress and anxiety can interrupt the neural connection between the brain and reproductive organs and prevent blood flow, resulting in erectile dysfunction [7].

Some stress-management techniques are meditation, deep breathing, & yoga. It's also recommended to seek help to cope with stress, such as going through therapy.

4. Maintain a Healthy Weight

shirtless man with a tape measure

There is enough evidence that obesity is one of the risk factors of erectile dysfunction — obese men are likely to experience ED by 30–90% than those with ideal weight [8].

Obesity also leads to other complications, including cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, leading to ED.

An effective way to lose weight is making slow and achievable changes in your diet, physical activity, and lifestyle, in general. It also helps not to do it alone; have an accountable person to do it with you.

5. Improve Your Sleep Habits

Sleep deprivation can also lead to erectile problems. When you don't get enough sleep, you become sluggish throughout the day and have poor blood circulation.

So, getting enough rest of at least 7 to 8 hours helps not only with ED but also helps to improve your general health and quality of life.

Erectile Dysfunction Treatments

pill bottle and scattered pills

Making lifestyle changes can be an effective remedy to ED, but making these changes takes time and effort.

Depending on the cause of the ED, in some cases, patients may need medications or other treatments. It's always best to talk to your doctor first and find a treatment that works for you.

Oral drugs (PDE-5 inhibitors)

If natural remedies don’t work, there are also oral medications available for ED.

However, I don’t recommend taking any medication without consulting a healthcare professional first. I have not tested these drugs, so this is for informational purposes only.

Based on our research, there are four oral medications commercially available in the U.S. called PDE-5 inhibitors:

  • Sildenafil (Viagra)
  • Vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn)
  • Tadalafil (Cialis)
  • Avanafil (Stendra)

They are called PDE-5 inhibitors because they block PDE5, an enzyme in the blood vessels. Blocking PDE5 relaxes the arteries, causing increased blood circulation in the penis [9].

These medications are generally safe to take. However, if you're taking nitrates (chest pain medications), you should NOT take any of these PDE-5 inhibitors.

Some of the side-effects of PDE-5 inhibitors include:

  • Headache
  • Flushing
  • Visual abnormalities
  • Stuffy nose
  • Indigestion

Testosterone Replacement Therapy and ED

Your doctor will recommend testosterone therapy if the causes of ED are low testosterone and low sex drive. Testosterone treatment may help improve erections among hypogonadal men (men who can’t produce a normal range of testosterone) when it’s combined with PDE-5 inhibitors [10].

Testosterone treatment comes in many forms, such as gels, skin patches, and intramuscular injections.

What Are The Side Effects of Boosting Testosterone?

man with acne and skin irritation

While it's true that testosterone treatment has multiple benefits, including having less fat and more muscle or increased sexual function.

But, having higher testosterone levels also comes with potential side effects, such as:

  • Acne and other skin irritations [11]
  • Decreased sperm production [12]
  • Increased urination [13]
  • Enlargement of the breast [14]
  • Decreased testicular size [15]
  • Increased aggressive behaviors [16]
  • Potentially worsen sleep apnea (severe sleep disorder) [17]

Testosterone replacement therapy can be beneficial for those with low testosterone levels. So, have your doctor run a blood test first to measure your T levels before buying any testosterone replacement therapy.

The Final Word on Testosterone And Erectile Dysfunction

Many men who experience erectile dysfunction run to testosterone boosters to reverse their condition. However, studies show that although testosterone boosters help increase testosterone levels, they are not always the solution for ED.

If you have optimal levels of testosterone, T boosters are not recommended. Erectile dysfunction might be caused by other conditions, such as chronic diseases, mental health problems, or poor lifestyles.

Doctors will only recommend T boosters if ED is accompanied by other symptoms of low testosterone level, such as low libido and fatigue.

Certain lifestyle changes might treat ED, such as eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and quitting smoking. If these natural treatments don't work, oral medications and therapy may also help.

It's best to consult professional medical advice from your doctor, so you find the treatment that works for you.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16651047/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12162940/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14665363/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3412584/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK562253/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7977280/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4535428/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24720114/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK549843/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3433544/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3897047/
  12. https://www.jci.org/articles/view/146607
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4212439/
  14. https://www.nature.com/articles/3901154
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6305868/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3693622/
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6305865/

About the author

You may also like

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *