Taking vitamin D might improve a man’s sexual health, suggests new research in the International Journal of Endocrinology.
Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to poor male sexual function (especially erectile dysfunction) in previous studies. In this paper, a team of Italian scientists sought to confirm such findings and determine whether vitamin D supplementation might benefit men with sexual issues.
Their study comprised two parts. First, the team analyzed medical data from 114 men (median age 64) who sought care for sexual problems at the researchers’ andrology clinic from 2003 to the present.
Second, they looked at data from a subsample of 41 men (median age 65) who received vitamin D therapy. The men took 50,000 to 100,000 IU of cholecalciferol weekly, every two or three weeks, or monthly. They were then followed for nine to twelve months.
Hormonal and vitamin D levels were measured with blood tests. The men also completed the International Index of Erectile Function-15 (IIEF-15) questionnaire, which evaluates erectile and orgasmic function, sexual desire, intercourse satisfaction, and overall satisfaction. Higher scores on the IIEF-15 indicate better sexual function.
In the first portion of the study, the researchers found that higher levels of vitamin D were associated with higher levels of total testosterone and higher scores on all domains of the IIEF-15. In addition, higher levels of total testosterone were associated with better erectile function and higher total IIEF scores.
Diabetic men and smokers tended to have lower testosterone levels than men without diabetes and nonsmokers.
The subset of 41 men who underwent vitamin D therapy saw increases in their total and free testosterone levels and better erectile function:
|Before Vitamin D Therapy||After Vitamin D Therapy|
|Average total testosterone||2.78 ng/mL||3.21 ng/mL|
|Average free testosterone||53.5 pg/mL||63.6 pg/mL|
|Average IIEF-15 erectile function domain score||10||11|
However, there were no significant changes in other aspects of sexual function for the subgroup.
The authors discussed possible mechanisms behind the vitamin D/sexual function link. Vitamin D might protect endothelial cells from oxidative stress, thus improving erections. Also, vitamin D deficiency is associated with cardiovascular risk that can also affect sexual function; healthy levels of vitamin D may mitigate this risk and, in turn, benefit sexual health.
They concluded that vitamin D plays an essential role in men’s sexual function and that supplementation can improve it. “If our data will be further confirmed, vitamin D evaluation might be included in the near future in the clinical work-up protocol of male sexual dysfunction,” they wrote.
International Journal of Endocrinology
Tirabassi, Giacomo, et al.
“Vitamin D and Male Sexual Function: A Transversal and Longitudinal Study”
(Full-text. January 8, 2018)