Study finds that low testosterone levels are common in men with sexual problems and may be related to chronic illnesses

August 2012

This large retrospective observational study of 990 men with erectile dysfunction (problems achieving or maintaining an erection) looked at the link between low levels of testosterone (also known as hypogonadism) and various chronic illnesses. The average age of men in this study was 57 years and many had chronic conditions such as diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, work stress and anxiety/depression. Overall, 36% of these men had low testosterone levels.

Key findings

  • Hypogonadism was common in men with chronic medical or psychological illnesses
  • In particular, sleep apnea (a condition where there are abnormal pauses in breathing during sleep) and work stress were strongly associated with low testosterone levels

Source: Hypogonadism in men with erectile dysfunction may be related to a host of chronic illnesses. Guay A, Seftel AD, Traish A. Int J Impot Res 2010; 22(1):9-19.

Background information

Low testosterone levels are common in older men and are associated with a range of chronic conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular problems and psychological problems. The results of this study strengthen that association and indicate that men with these chronic conditions should have their testosterone levels checked, particularly if they also have symptoms of erectile dysfunction. Further well-designed studies are needed to help understand whether health-related lifestyle changes can improve testosterone levels in these men.