The associations between serum sex hormones, erectile function, and sex drive: The olmsted county study of urinary symptoms and health status among men

Naomi M. Gades, Debra J. Jacobson, Michaela E. Mcgree, Jennifer L. St. Sauver, Michael M. Lieber, Ajay Nehra, Cynthia J. Girman, George G. Klee, Steven J. Jacobsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Scopus citations


Introduction. Testosterone replacement therapy has been used in the treatment of sexual dysfunction; however, its use remains controversial, and the effectiveness and long-term health implications are unknown. Aim. To evaluate the association between sex hormone serum levels, erectile function, and sexual drive in a population-based sample of men. Methods. A stratified random sample of men residing in Olmsted County, Minnesota, completed a questionnaire containing questions from the Brief Male Sexual Function Inventory (BMSFI), and participated in a clinical exam, which included serum hormone measurements. Main Outcome Measures. Levels of sexual drive (libido) and erectile function as assessed by the BMSFI and serum testosterone, bioavailable testosterone, and estradiol measurements. Results. Out of 414 men, 294 had a regular sexual partner and androgen measurements at the 14th year of follow-up. Total testosterone and erectile function were significantly correlated even after adjustment for age (r = 0.12, P = 0.04). Conversely, total testosterone was not significantly correlated with sex drive (r = 0.08, P = 0.17). Bioavailable testosterone was significantly correlated with both erectile function and sex drive (r = 0.16, P = 0.01 and r = 0.20, P = 0.001, respectively). However, these associations disappeared after age adjustment (r = 0.04 and r = 0.09). Conclusions. These cross-sectional results suggest the relationship between sex hormones and sexual function is complex, and that the age-related decline in sexual function may be due to age-related declines in levels of bioavailable testosterone rather than total testosterone levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2209-2220
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008



  • Aging
  • Androgens
  • Cohort study
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Estradiol
  • Hypogonadism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Urology

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