Erectile dysfunction

Updated 23 September 2016

Low libido and erectile dysfunction: the hidden curses

At around 30 men’s testosterone levels begin to decline and continue to do so as they age.

At around 30 men’s testosterone levels begin to decline and continue to do so as they age. Reduced testosterone is often accompanied by decreased libido or sex-drive as well as by its twin brother,  erectile dysfunction or ED. Research reveals that up to 40% of men may experience ED at least occasionally.

Erectile dysfunction and low testosterone

There are a number of differing causes for ED and low testosterone, for example certain medications may be associated with ED even where testosterone levels are normal.  Again it’s possible that with  low testosterone levels erections are normal.  However, there appears to be a common thread linking these two conditions and that thread is the condition known as Metabolic Syndrome.

Metabolic Syndrome is described as central obesity (or excessive ‘tummy fat’) plus any two of the following:  high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high blood fats (triglyceride) or low HDL-cholesterol ( ‘good cholesterol’). Serious chronic diseases associated with the Metabolic Syndrome, include: cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes,  certain cancers, and Alzheimer’s Disease.  

Hidden curses

Less known is the fact that obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes are often associated with, and may even be a cause of, low testosterone levels and or ED. These may be called ‘hidden curses of Metabolic Syndrome’ because sufferers are often reluctant or even ashamed to discuss these problems with their healthcare providers.

5 ‘lessons’  for improving libido and ED (as posted on the Met-S Care page on Facebook)

  • Lose weight by eliminating sugar and reducing refined carbohydrate consumption to near zero.  Research shows that weight loss improves testosterone levels and improves ED.

  • Consider intermittent fasting e.g. not eating or drinking energy containing food or beverages from 7pm to about 11am, allowing insulin levels to remain lower for longer, thus fostering weight loss, boosting testosterone levels and improving ED.

  • Get moving’. Short intense exercise has a positive effect on testosterone levels and a Harvard study showed that just 30 minutes of brisk walking every day was associated with a 41% reduction in ED.

  • Ensure an adequate intake of Zinc in the diet. Supplementing with Zinc for just six weeks has been shown to significantly improve testosterone levels in men with low levels.   

  • Take a daily multivitamin and consider having a series of Vitamin B12 injections as a chronic deficiency of this vitamin may contribute to ED.

  • Want to improve your libido? Then get your insulin down by cutting out sugar and other refined carbs.

    Read moreMet-S Care works with Dis-Chem Pharmacies to empower people living with Metabolic Syndrome to take control of their condition.

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    Ask the Expert

    Erectile Dysfunction Expert

    Dr Kenny du Toit is a urologist practicing in Rondebosch, Cape Town. He is also consultant at Tygerberg hospital, where he is a senior lecturer at Stellenbosch University. He is a member of the South African Urological Association, Colleges of Medicine South Africa and Société Internationale d’Urologie. Board registered with both the HPCSA (Health professions council of South Africa) and GMC (General medical council UK). He has a keen interest in oncology, kidney stones and erectile dysfunction.

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