Objective: To investigate the frequency of hypogonadism in men with erectile dysfunction (ED) and to assess which factors are related with low testosterone levels.
Patients and methods: In all, 165 men with ED were assessed; the evaluation included: hormonal profiles, serum total and free testosterone (using Vermeulen's formula) levels, and self-reported questionnaires on erectile function and desire domains of the International Index of Erectile Function. The frequency of hypogonadism was established using total and free testosterone levels as diagnostic criteria. The factors that might influence testosterone levels were evaluated by univariate and multivariate statistical analysis, and a logistic regression was used to determine which factors can predict free testosterone levels below normal limits (biochemical hypogonadism).
Results: Using the total testosterone levels, 4.8% of the men were hypogonadal, whereas when using the free testosterone levels, 17.6% were hypogonadal. In the univariate analyses, not smoking and hypertension were associated with lower total and free testosterone levels. Ageing, absence of nocturnal erections and a lower erectile function score were only associated with lower free testosterone serum levels. There was no association between total and free testosterone levels and desire. In the multivariate analysis, only total testosterone levels were related to hypertension, while free testosterone levels were related to age and nocturnal erections. For biochemical hypogonadism, simple logistic regression analysis selected age, erectile function score and aetiological diagnosis of ED as predictors. In the multivariate analysis only the erectile function score had significant independent prognostic value.
Conclusions: The frequency of hypogonadism is higher when free testosterone levels are used for diagnosis. The total and free testosterone levels were not related to the level of sexual desire in men with ED. The free testosterone levels could be related to the quality and frequency of nocturnal erections, and when ED is more severe, it is more probable that free testosterone levels are below the 'normal' limit.