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Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs can Reduce Testosterone Levels, Causing Low Sex Drive and Depression

Men who take cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as statins, have lower testosterone levels that can cause low libido, erectile dysfunction (ED), depression and fatigue, according to a study in the current issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine. These results are important as The Centers for Disease Control report that one out of every six adults in the United States use cholesterols-lowering drugs (September 2009).

In the journal study, doctors at the University of Florence followed more than 3,000 men, ages 51 to 65 suffering from ED. The men selected for this study were chosen because they had visited an outpatient clinic for sexual dysfunction for the first time. The study found that cholesterol-lowering therapy can cause hypogonadism, a condition that causes the testes to produce little or no hormones. This lead doctors to believe that cholesterol-lowering drugs should be considered a possible factor for the evaluation of testosterone levels in men suffering from ED.

At the beginning of the study, 7% of the participants were taking cholesterol-lowering drugs. Subjects using the drugs showed significantly lower testosterone levels than those who didn’t. Those treated with cholesterol-lowering treatment were also associated with a reduced testes volume and showed symptoms of hypogonadism.

“Recent studies have been conducted to learn more about how cardiac health affects sexual health,” said Dr. Irwin Goldstein, director of sexual medicine at Alvarado Hospital and editor-in-chief of the journal. "Many men use cholesterol-lowering drugs, which may be helping their heart, but may also be depleting their hormone levels. This is an interesting study that will be further researched in upcoming years."

As men age, testosterone levels begin to gradually decrease. The use of cholesterol-lowering drugs may increase the number symptoms for men or advance the symptoms being experienced as a result of low testosterone. Another observation taken from the study is that follicle-stimulating hormone levels were much greater in those using cholesterol-lowering treatment than the rest of the participants. Lastly, the patients treated with cholesterol-lowering drugs had lower prolactin levels, which are reproduction hormones, in comparison to non-users.

In conclusion, the study suggests that cholesterol-lowering treatment can lower testosterone levels in men suggesting that it may lead to ED.