Hypogonadism and erectile dysfunction associated with soy product consumption

Nutrition. 2011 Jul-Aug;27(7-8):859-62. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2010.10.018. Epub 2011 Feb 25.


Previous research has focused on the beneficial effects of soy and its active ingredients, isoflavones. For instance, soy consumption has been associated with lower cardiovascular and breast cancer risks. However, the number of reports demonstrating adverse effects of isoflavones due to their estrogenlike properties has increased. We present the case of a 19-y-old type 1 diabetic but otherwise healthy man with sudden onset of loss of libido and erectile dysfunction after the ingestion of large quantities of soy-based products in a vegan-style diet. Blood levels of free and total testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) were taken at the initial presentation for examination and continuously monitored up to 2 y after discontinuation of the vegan diet. Blood concentrations of free and total testosterone were initially decreased, whereas DHEA was increased. These parameters normalized within 1 y after cessation of the vegan diet. Normalization of testosterone and DHEA levels was paralleled by a constant improvement of symptoms; full sexual function was regained 1 y after cessation of the vegan diet. This case indicates that soy product consumption is related to hypogonadism and erectile dysfunction. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of a combination of decreased free testosterone and increased DHEA blood concentrations after consuming a soy-rich diet. Hence, this case emphasizes the impact of isoflavones in the regulation of sex hormones and associated physical alterations.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1
  • Diet, Vegetarian / adverse effects*
  • Erectile Dysfunction / blood
  • Erectile Dysfunction / etiology*
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / blood*
  • Humans
  • Hypogonadism / blood
  • Hypogonadism / etiology*
  • Isoflavones / adverse effects*
  • Libido / drug effects
  • Male
  • Plant Preparations / adverse effects
  • Soy Foods / adverse effects*
  • Soybeans / adverse effects*
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Young Adult


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Isoflavones
  • Plant Preparations
  • Testosterone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone