Workout supplements have become popular must-haves to boost energy and performance before a workout. However, you may have come across some anecdotal evidence associating these supplements with erectile dysfunction (ED). So, can workout supplements cause erectile dysfunction?
Workout supplements can cause erectile dysfunction. However, it is worth noting that not all of them do. Those that contain anabolic steroids are likely to cause erectile dysfunction, low sexual function, and reduced libido among men.
If you’re interested in taking a workout supplement but worried about possible ED risks, we recommend you read on. We will discuss how workout supplements may cause erectile dysfunction and which supplements do and do not cause the condition.
What Workout Supplements Cause Erectile Dysfunction?
Workout supplements that contain anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) can cause erectile dysfunction. These steroids contain testosterone or other chemicals that mimic the function of the hormone. Fortunately, not all workout supplements contain these ingredients.
Studies have shown that roughly 22% of AAS users started using them as teenagers. In addition, most users are non-athlete males, making it easy to misuse the drug.
Another study found that some long-time users of AAS who stop taking the supplements suffer from symptoms such as erectile dysfunction and low sexual drive soon after they quit. In other words, the supplements do help with erectile function while in use but can do the opposite once the user stops taking them.
These effects are because the body has become dependent on drug-regulated testosterone production and has lost its ability to regulate hormone production. More studies are necessary to confirm if the symptoms are permanent or how long the adverse effects last.
Although workout supplements are pretty popular, many of them have not received approval from the FDA.
Many companies falsely advertise their products as “dietary supplements.” However, they would often contain steroids that can pose some serious health risks from unregulated use.
In addition to erectile dysfunction, some risks from taking AAS-containing supplements include:
- Liver injury
- Mood and behavioral changes
- Kidney damage
- Heart failure
- Blood clots in the lungs or veins
Consumption of workout supplements with AAS may not be entirely bad. However, people often misuse these drugs because there’s no appropriate regulation in their distribution. Some manufacturers also refuse to disclose the actual ingredients in their products.
Therefore, it’s important to consult your physician about whether a particular workout supplement is good for you. What works for other people may not exactly work for you. You never know what kind of medical condition you might have and what effect the ingredients of the supplement may have on you.
Note that, to quote Ruth Wood from the University of Southern California: “Under ordinary circumstances, physicians shouldn’t be prescribing hormones for normal adult males.”
Additionally, a 2016 news release from the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) once said: “Testosterone and other AAS are abused by adults and adolescents, including athletes and body builders. Abuse of testosterone… is associated with serious safety risks affecting the heart, brain, liver, mental health, and endocrine system.”
So, if what you’re taking will affect your hormone production in any way, your doctor may have second thoughts about letting you have those supplements.
How Do Workout Supplements Cause Erectile Dysfunction?
Workout supplements that contain AAS can cause erectile dysfunction by making your body dependent on the drug’s testosterone-regulating function. When you quit using it, your body will have difficulty with hormone regulation for a while, causing poor sexual functions.
Taking androgenic supplements can reduce the production of testicular testosterone, affecting the sexual development among younger users of workout supplements. Extended use can lead to low sperm count or infertility among older adults.
Let’s look into the step-by-step process of how workout supplements may cause erectile dysfunction:
- Anabolic androgenic steroids provide testosterone or similar synthetic hormones to the user’s body to regulate muscle development.
- The body’s ability to produce testosterone by itself becomes unstable because sex hormone regulation in humans is dose-dependent to maintain a balance in functions.
- Once the user stops using AAS, the body will have excess testosterone.
- The body will turn the excess testosterone into estradiol (a type of the female hormone estrogen).
- High levels of estradiol can limit erectile function.
A healthy man’s body can maintain a balance between the male and female sex hormones: testosterone and estrogen. Using AAS can disrupt this balance and make it difficult for the body to repair the hormonal imbalance immediately. That’s why it can be challenging to determine how long the symptoms can last.
Sometimes, male patients may even exhibit more defined symptoms of hormonal imbalance, such as enlargement of breasts and decreased sperm count.
What Workout Supplements Do Not Cause Erectile Dysfunction?
Workout supplements that do not contain anabolic androgenic steroids are unlikely to cause erectile dysfunction. These supplements are generally safe to use because they contain essentially the same ingredients you can find in your regular daily meals.
Most users take workout supplements before or after intense workout sessions to fuel their performance or replenish the nutrients they lost. Consuming these supplements in properly regulated dosages is safe and can even be beneficial for most people.
Pre-workout supplements typically contain:
- Beta-Alanine. This amino acid helps in the formation of carnosine, which delays lactic acid buildup in the muscles during a workout. This mechanism helps improve endurance so you don’t easily get tired during intense physical activities.
- It’s the most widely used stimulant that works on the central nervous system. It helps people stay alert and energetic, making it useful as a pre-workout supplement. Caffeine consumption is safe as long as you keep your daily dose below 400 mg (0.014 oz).
- A healthy human body receives good amounts of creatine from regular consumption of meat and milk. The substance is present in skeletal muscles and increases energy during a workout.
On the other hand, post-workout supplements often have some or all of the following:
- The human body initially uses carbohydrates during moderate exercises to sustain the muscles’ requirements. That’s why most people need to consume carbohydrates after exercising to make up for those burnt.
- Protein supplements are popular post-workout supplements and are widely available in forms such as powder or pills.
- Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs). These amino acids make good pre-workout and post-workout supplements. They help with performance during a workout and aid in muscle or tissue repair after exercise.
- Many people consume energy drinks after an intense workout because they contain essential electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, and calcium.
Workout supplements containing anabolic androgenic steroids can cause erectile dysfunction and other sexual concerns among male users. Because of this, intense workout enthusiasts or athletes must be careful when choosing their supplements.
Be sure to check the ingredients and nutrition labels on the products you intend to use. If unsure, always consult your physician. You may have some medical conditions that may worsen in case of side effects from the workout supplements.
Thanks for reading!
We hope this article answered the big question “Can Workout Supplements Cause Erectile Dysfunction”. On the same topic, you may want to check out these articles too: Erectile Dysfunction from Diabetes, Alcohol and Hypertension, in addition to What Does Maca Energy Coffee Do? 5 Important Facts, and 6 Surprising Foods That Kill Testosterone.
- S. Food & Drug Administration: Caution: Bodybuilding Products Can Be Risky
- Harvard School of Public Health: Workout Supplements
- National Library of Medicine: Adverse Effects of Sports Supplements in Men
- National Library of Medicine: Impact of Anabolic Androgenic Steroids on Sexual Function
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: Who Uses Anabolic Steroids?
- Harvard School of Public Health: Caffeine
- Cleveland Clinic: Creatine and Creatine Supplements
- National Library of Medicine: The Role of Estradiol in Male Reproductive Function
- Vox: The open secret to looking like a superhero
- S. Food & Drug Administration: FDA approves new changes to testosterone labeling regarding the risks associated with abuse and dependence of testosterone and other anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS)
About The Author
M.D Mark D. is a Health and Wellness professional writer. Mark has authored many health articles around the following topics: Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Fitness, Nutrition, Pets Health, Mental Health, Medicine, and Supplements.