Erectile dysfunction

Updated 04 July 2014

Obese boys become impotent men

Young, obese males have reduced levels of testosterone, which greatly increases their risk of being impotent and infertile as adults, according to a new study.


Young, obese males have reduced levels of testosterone, which greatly increases their risk of being impotent and infertile as adults, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University at Buffalo in New York compared 25 obese and 25 lean males, aged 14 to 20, and found that the obese males had up to 50% less total testosterone than the lean males. Testosterone is the hormone produced in the testicles.

The findings, recently published online in the journal Clinical Endocrinology, need to be confirmed with more males, the researchers said.

What the study found

"We were surprised to observe a 50% reduction in testosterone in this pediatric study because these obese males were young and were not diabetic," study first author Dr Paresh Dandona, chief of the division of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at the University at Buffalo medical school, said.

"The implications of our findings are, frankly, horrendous, because these boys are potentially impotent and infertile," Dandona said. "The message is a grim one with massive epidemiological implications."

The researchers noted that low testosterone levels also are associated with higher levels of abdominal fat and reduced muscle, which can lead to insulin resistance and then diabetes.

"These findings demonstrate that the effect of obesity is powerful, even in the young, and that lifestyle and nutritional intake starting in childhood have major repercussions throughout all stages of life," Dandona said.

"The good news is that we know that testosterone levels do return to normal in obese adult males who undergo gastric bypass surgery," he said. "It's possible that levels also will return to normal through weight loss as a result of lifestyle change, although this needs to be confirmed by larger studies."

The study found an association between obesity and reduced testosterone levels. However, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

Read more:
Has he suddenly gone off sex?

More information

The MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia has more about testosterone.

(Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.)


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

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.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules