The use of statin drugs had jumped by 88% in a five-year period, according to the Federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. It is expected to continue to climb based on new guidelines issued by several medical establishments.
Individuals are being urged to begin statin therapy regardless of whether their cholesterol is elevated or not. The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending children to begin taking statins. The drug companies are campaigning for an additional 36 million Americans for statin therapy.
Cholesterol is a vital part of each cell membrane in the body. It is a necessity for brain function and hormonal balance. Statin drugs used to block the body’s production of cholesterol will affect all hormones that are dependent on the availability of cholesterol.
Among its many functions cholesterol is not only the building block of steroid hormones, but also part of the receptor site for the entry of these hormones into the cell.
Steroid Sex Hormones Dependant on Available Cholesterol
Steroid hormones include the adrenal hormones, such as aldosterone and cortisone and the sex hormones, such as testosterone, estrogen and progesterone.
The two most important steroid hormones produced by the testes and ovaries are testosterone and estradiol. They are responsible for stimulating sexual responses in the human body.
Testosterone is the principle male sex hormone responsible for the libido and sex drive, as well as mood levels, muscle mass and strength and bone strength.
When cholesterol production is inhibited by statin drugs steroid hormone production drops. As testosterone levels drop the sex drive decreases and erectile dysfunction increases. The balance of hormones, especially testosterone is essential for erectile function.
Erectile dysfunction also known as impotence affects 40% of the men in the US as is defined as the inability to achieve or maintain an erection 25% or more of the time.
Early signs of testosterone deficiency include change in moods, irritability, reduced sex drive, decreased athletic performance, lack of energy, and sleepiness after meals.
Research Linked Statin Drug to Changes in Sex Function
Many studies have linked statin drugs to lowered libido and erectile dysfunction. Researchers at the University of Florence in Italy reported a twofold increase in a condition in which men produce insufficient amount of testosterone among statin users.
A study that followed some 106,000 men over a period of 21 years reported erectile dysfunction was three times greater among statin users. Onset of ED occurred within 29 days of starting the drug. Recovery from the side effect once the statin drug was stopped occurred in only 57% of the subjects.
Increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and flaxseed helps increase testosterone production.
Studies have shown that a diet low in carbohydrates, higher in protein and moderate in healthy fats results in more sustained testosterone levels.
Further studies have shown that exercising for up to 60 minutes helps to increase testosterone levels.