Testosterone levels have a vital impact on a man’s erectile function. During puberty, testosterone plays a critical role in voice deepening, body hair growth, development of the genitals, and sex drive. As a man ages, testosterone continues to influence sex drive and quality of erections.
These facts are well-known by now, but what isn’t common knowledge is there are three different measurements of testosterone that are important to know, not all testosterone can be used by the body, and some men still have erectile dysfunction with healthy levels of testosterone.
Continue reading to learn about the connection between testosterone levels and erectile function to make informed decisions about increasing your sex drive and/or improving erections.
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High Testosterone Levels Enhance Erections & Improve Sex Drive
It’s true that high levels of testosterone enhances erections and improves sex drive. However, it’s not as simple as “high testosterone = fully erect penis + high sex drive and low testosterone = erectile dysfunction”. There are multifarious factors that influence whether or not a man experiences a high sex drive when he has high levels of testosterone. For example, if that testosterone cannot be used by the body, he may still suffer from erectile dysfunction. Yes, he has high levels of testosterone, but the problem lies in the testosterone not being used.
There Are Three Measurements of Testosterone That Matter
Primary care doctors often only measure total testosterone, which is the amount of testosterone in the body. You would think that’s the only measurement that matters. However, two other evaluations of testosterone are important to examine in men who are experiencing erectile dysfunction or sexual difficulties: free testosterone and bio-available testosterone.
Free testosterone is testosterone that is able to be immediately used by your body; it’s not bound by any protein. Bio-available testosterone, on the other hand, is the amount of free testosterone and albumin-bound testosterone. Albumin-bound testosterone just means testosterone that is bound by the protein albumin. It’s easy for the body to separate the albumin from testosterone when the body is in need. Albumin isn’t the only protein that can attach to testosterone. Many other proteins can, and in some cases it’s impossible to separate the two, resulting in testosterone the body cannot use.
Sex Hormone Binding Globulin Affects Testosterone
Sex hormone binding globulin is a protein that renders testosterone unavailable for use when it binds to it. Once SHBG has bounded to testosterone, there’s no separating the two. That testosterone is as good as gone. Therefore, checking your levels of SHBG is as important as finding out your total testosterone count. High levels of SHBG are associated with lower erectile function.
Make Sure You’re Prescribed the Right Type of Treatment
A doctor who’s not familiar with erectile function might prescribe the wrong type of medicine or treatment for you. For example, Viagra is one of the most common medications prescribed for men suffering from erectile dysfunction. Contrary to what the masses think, Viagra doesn’t boost a man’s testosterone levels. The way Viagra works is by inhibiting PDE-5, which is an enzyme that stops nitric oxide from loosening the penis’s spongy erectile tissue. When a man becomes aroused, nitric oxide is released in his penis allowing more blood to flow into that area.
The link between testosterone levels and erectile function isn’t as simplistic as originally thought. In general, high testosterone levels lead to full erections and high sex drives. However, total testosterone is only a measurement of how much testosterone is in your body. It doesn’t indicate how much of the testosterone is available for use.