Melatonin is perhaps best known as the hormone that is involved with the sleep/wake cycle. Yet there is also some research indicate that it could be a player in impotence, which affects 25 percent of men younger than 40, and an increasing percentage of men older than 50. This information leads us to ask the question, can melatonin treat erectile dysfunction?
Melatonin and erectile dysfunction
Melatonin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, both of which are important in combatting oxidative stress. Since oxidative stress plays a major role in erectile dysfunction, it seems likely that melatonin could have a positive impact on this sexual challenge, and some research has borne this out.
In a new study, 62 men with mild, moderate, or severe erectile dysfunction and 22 healthy men underwent analysis, including serum melatonin levels, anthropometric data, biochemical and hormonal measures, and data concerning cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, smoking, and use of alcohol.
The findings were as follows:
- Mean melatonin levels were 34.2 ng/dL in the mild group, 33.3 ng/dL in the moderate group, and 34.8 ng/dL in the severe group, compared with 44.6 ng/dL in controls. This represented a significant difference in melatonin levels between all of the men with ED and controls
- Factors such as diabetes, hypertension, smoking, alcohol use, and cardiovascular disease were not significantly different between the men with erectile dysfunction
- These findings suggest melatonin levels may have a role in the diagnosis and treatment of ED
Other studies of melatonin and ED
Several animal studies have demonstrated that supplementation with melatonin can improve erectile function. In a rat study published in 2016, for example, the authors found that giving melatonin to rats with arterial occlusive disease (which is a leading cause of erectile dysfunction) prevented or reduced “functional or morphological changes induced by chronic ischemia on penile structure and function.”
In another animal study, published in 2014 by a Turkish team, it was noted that melatonin, especially when combined with the sexual dysfunction drug called tadalafil (Viagra), prevented oxidative damage to tissues in the penis that are necessary for erectile function.
The authors attributed the positive impact on erectile function to the antioxidant powers of melatonin.
Can melatonin treat erectile dysfunction? The jury is still out on this question, but study results thus far point in a positive direction.
Read more in our Erectile Dysfunction Health Center.
Bozkurt A et al. Low serum melatonin levels are associated with erectile dysfunction. International Brazilian Journal of Urology 2018 Apr 30; 44.
Capogrosso P et al. One patient out of four with newly diagnosed erectile dysfunction is a young man—worrisome picture from the everyday clinical practice. The Journal of Sexual Medicine 2013 Jul; 10(7): 1833-84
Sawada N et al. Melatonin improves erectile function in rats with chronic lower body ischemia. Journal of Sexual Medicine 2016 Feb; 13(2): 179-86
Tavukcu HH et al. Melatonin and tadalafil treatment improves erectile dysfunction after spinal cord injury in rats. Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology & Physiology 2014 Apr; 41(4): 309-16