Testosterone and sexual activity

J Endocrinol Invest. 2005;28(3 Suppl):39-44.


Male sexual activity is characterized by a synchronization of sexual desire arising in the brain and its transmission to the periphery, resulting in penile tumescence necessary for sexual intercourse. Testosterone (T) has been claimed for so long as a pivotal hormone in regulating male sexual function, acting both at central and peripheral level. We believe that T is indeed the main synchronizer of sexual activity regulating libido and enzymes as nitric oxide synthase (NOS) and phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5), which are crucial for the erectile process. In fact, NOS increases cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) levels, while PDE5 reduces it. Because T positively controls both the initiation and the end of the penile erection, its net effect on erection is null. In fact, penile erections are often present even without T. The main action of T is to timely adjust the erectile process as a function of sexual desire, therefore finalizing erections to sex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Coitus
  • Humans
  • Libido
  • Male
  • Penile Erection / physiology*
  • Reproduction / physiology
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology*
  • Testosterone / physiology*


  • Testosterone