Written by Tom Fahey
14 January 2010

Up to 50 percent of aging men have problems getting erections (ED). Recent scientific studies showed that ED is usually linked to poor metabolic health linked to high blood pressure, poor blood sugar regulation, abdominal obesity, abnormal blood fat levels, and whole-body inflammation. Many men with ED also have low testosterone levels.

A position statement issued by the American College of Physicians for treating ED concluded that there is not strong evidence to support routine hormone testing in men with ED. High-quality evidence shows that routine treatment with drugs such as Viagra and Cialis is warranted for most men with ED. They also advised that the choice of erection-promoting drugs should be based on ease-of-use, cost, and individual side effects.

Low testosterone levels in aging men are linked to bone and muscle loss, depression, decreased mental function, and reduced sex drive, so routine hormone analysis might be appropriate for reasons other than screening for ED. (Annals Internal Medicine, 151: 639-649, 2009)