Hormonal Therapy for Erection Problems

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Hormonal Therapy for Erection Problems


Generic NameBrand Name
testosteroneAndroderm, Andriol, AndroGel, Delatestryl, Depo-Testosterone, Testim

Testosterone can be given orally as pill, or as a shot in the muscle, usually every 2 to 3 weeks. This is not the same as medicines you give as a shot in the penis.

Testosterone can also be given as a patch that is placed on the skin and changed every day. Or it can be used as a gel that is applied daily to the skin.

Generic Name

These medicines can be used to treat men who have high prolactin levels, which can reduce the amount of testosterone produced by the body and may lead to problems such as infertility or erection problems. Bromocriptine and cabergoline are taken by mouth.

How It Works

Replacing testosterone, if it is low, may increase a man's sexual desire, or libido.

Bromocriptine and cabergoline help to lower the amount of prolactin in the body. In some men, a non-cancerous tumour on the pituitary gland causes the gland to produce too much prolactin.

Why It Is Used

Testosterone may be prescribed for men who have low testosterone levels. It is not recommended for men with testosterone levels in the low part of the normal range.

Bromocriptine and cabergoline may be prescribed for men with high prolactin levels.

Blood tests are needed to determine the levels of these hormones.

How Well It Works

Testosterone may improve libido and, as a result, may improve erection problems (erectile dysfunction) in men who have low testosterone levels.1

Bromocriptine and cabergoline may help restore sexual interest and potency when erection problems are caused by high prolactin levels.1

Side Effects

Side effects of testosterone may include:

  • An elevated number of red blood cells (polycythemia), which can increase the risk of stroke or heart attack.
  • Painful enlargement of the breasts.
  • Water retention.
  • High blood pressure.
  • An elevated blood cholesterol level.
  • A rash or skin reaction from the patch.
  • Increased risk of heart failure.
  • Increased prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels.
  • Increased growth of pre-existing prostate cancer.

Side effects of bromocriptine may include:

  • Confusion, hallucinations, and uncontrolled body movements, particularly in older men.
  • Worsening of liver disorders.
  • Worsening of certain mental disorders.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Infertility.

Side effects of cabergoline may include:

  • Low blood pressure.
  • Headache, dizziness, and vertigo.
  • Depression, nervousness, and anxiety.
  • Abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and flatulence.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Anorexia and weight fluctuation.

Side effects may cause some men to stop taking the medicine. Nervous system and mental side effects may linger for 2 to 6 weeks after a man stops taking the medicine.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

When thinking about hormonal therapy for erection problems, it is important to include your partner in your decision.

During the first year of testosterone therapy, you should receive a prostate examination, a PSA blood test, a complete blood count, and a liver function test every 3 to 6 months.

Although replacement of testosterone through injections or patches can improve a man's libido, it does not always improve a man's ability to have an erection.

Testosterone is not given as a pill.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Bella AJ, Lue TF (2008). Male sexual dysfunction. In EA Tanagho, JW McAninch, eds., Smith's General Urology, 17th ed., pp. 589–610. New York: McGraw-Hill.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Andrew Swan, MD, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Christopher G. Wood, MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology
Last Revised July 13, 2010

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.