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Many medications can be used off-label to treat conditions they weren’t originally intended for. This may be the case with melatonin – this hormone previously used to manage sleep disorders appears to have a strong effect on male sexual function.

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Melatonin for Erectile Dysfunction Treatment

Although erectile dysfunction is a thoroughly researched health disorder with multiple treatment options, scientists still keep searching for new, more effective therapies for it. The need for alternative medications and treatments remains high as well. This is because certain groups of ED patients including those with diabetes, nerve injury, etc. don’t respond to conventional first- and second-line treatments.

One of such promising treatments is melatonin – the hormone released by the pineal gland when we sleep. The effect of melatonin on sexual function was first discussed in the 2014 study by Tavukçu et al. This research focused on sexual performance after spinal cord injury and compared different groups of injured rats treated with melatonin, tadalafil and a combination thereof. Melatonin therapy was used because of the hormone’s antioxidative and neuroprotective characteristics, which allow the patient with spinal cord injury to recover faster. However, the results of the study suggest that it is also effective in treating erectile dysfunction, even when taken without tadalafil. A combination of tadalafil and melatonin also showed better results than tadalafil alone.

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A 2016 study by Sawada et al also focuses on the effects of melatonin on erectile function, this time in animals with vascular disorders. A group of rats that didn’t receive any treatment following arterial injury was compared to those that were treated with melatonin as well as to healthy animals. The erectile function was equally high in healthy and melatonin-treated injured animals and much higher than in the untreated group.

The most recent, as of now, 2018 article analyzing the effect of melatonin on sexual performance takes a closer look at how this hormone actually works. Using diabetic rats with ED as test subjects, it suggests that melatonin reduces oxidative stress and neuropathy and thus can restore the ability to achieve erections in patients with neural disorders due to diabetes. The results of this study were also positive with the erectile function in the melatonin-treated group being much higher than in the controls.

Another 2018 paper by Bozkurt et al suggests there’s a direct relationship between the serum melatonin level and sexual performance. It compares 62 ED patients with 22 healthy subjects and reveals that men suffering from impotence have much lower melatonin levels than those without any erection problems – 34ng/dL vs 44ng/dL, on average. The study states that these findings can be used both in the testing and treatment of sexual disorders in men.

Since melatonin is a hormone that gets released mostly when you’re not exposed to light, there are also studies showing that low sleep quality and sleeping during the day instead of the night reduce the amount of melatonin produced by the body. Low melatonin means lower erectile function, so it is important to follow a normal sleep-wake cycle. It’s not just sexual function that is at risk – a recent study showed that poor sleep quality is also associated with low testosterone and even a higher risk of death.

Like any other medication, melatonin should be used with care as it has side effects. The most common of these include headache, dizziness, sleepiness during the day, stomach cramps and depression and increased irritability. Some manufacturers of melatonin-based supplements like Circadin, for example, provide a longer list of rare side effects including priapism. The presence of this condition characterized by abnormally lasting, painful erections on the list also suggests that there’s a link between melatonin intake and increased sexual function.

So far, the results of the studies look promising, with melatonin proving effective in the management of both mild ED and more serious neurogenic erectile disorders. It shows high efficacy both when taken alone and in combination with such conventional medications as PDE-5 inhibitors – tadalafil, in particular. As the scientific interest towards this treatment increases, we’re likely to see it progress to clinical trials in the nearest future. Being a relatively safe and widely available supplement, melatonin is a viable option for men suffering from erection problems.