Translational Perspective on the Role of Testosterone in Sexual Function and Dysfunction

Carol A. Podlasek, John Mulhall, Kelvin Davies, Christopher J. Wingard, Johanna L. Hannan, Trinity J. Bivalacqua, Biljana Musicki, Mohit Khera, Nestor F. González-Cadavid, Arthur L. Burnett

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Introduction The biological importance of testosterone is generally accepted by the medical community; however, controversy focuses on its relevance to sexual function and the sexual response, and our understanding of the extent of its role in this area is evolving. Aim To provide scientific evidence examining the role of testosterone at the cellular and molecular levels as it pertains to normal erectile physiology and the development of erectile dysfunction and to assist in guiding successful therapeutic interventions for androgen-dependent sexual dysfunction. Methods In this White Paper, the Basic Science Committee of the Sexual Medicine Society of North America assessed the current basic science literature examining the role of testosterone in sexual function and dysfunction. Results Testosterone plays an important role in sexual function through multiple processes: physiologic (stimulates activity of nitric oxide synthase), developmental (establishes and maintains the structural and functional integrity of the penis), neural (development, maintenance, function, and plasticity of the cavernous nerve and pelvic ganglia), therapeutically for dysfunctional regulation (beneficial effect on aging, diabetes, and prostatectomy), and phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibition (testosterone supplement to counteract phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor resistance). Conclusion Despite controversies concerning testosterone with regard to sexual function, basic science studies provide incontrovertible evidence for a significant role of testosterone in sexual function and suggest that properly administered testosterone therapy is potentially advantageous for treating male sexual dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1183-1198
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2016


  • Aging
  • Autonomic Input
  • Development
  • Diabetes
  • Morphology
  • Penis
  • Phosphodiesterase Type 5 Inhibitor
  • Prostatectomy
  • Testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Urology


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