The surprising deficiency that may be sabotaging your sex life

It’s been a little while since I talked to you about melatonin. But hopefully you remember that this popular bedtime supplement has impressive health benefits that go way beyond a good night’s sleep.

While this hormone is essential—and best known—for regulating your body’s natural wake-sleep cycles, melatonin also offers critical protection against lethal diseases, like cancer and diabetes. Not to mention more than a few non-lethal conditions as well—from migraines to arthritis, and even sunburn.

And according to new research, it looks like we can add one more common malady to that list… 

Low melatonin paves the way to erectile dysfunction

This past summer, the International Brazilian Journal of Urology published a study of 62 men with erectile dysfunction (ED), ranging from mild to severe, and 22 healthy men without ED.

Researchers took blood samples from all the subjects, assessing for factors including lipid and melatonin levels. And they found that, while healthy men averaged around 45 ng/dL of serum melatonin, men with ED had much lower levels—hovering, on average, anywhere between 33 ng/dL and 35 ng/dL.1

That’s about a quarter lower! And while this is the first study to expose a link between melatonin levels and erectile function, it’s not exactly surprising. Because aside from being a sleep hormone, melatonin is also one of your body’s most crucial natural antioxidants.

These antioxidants are needed to thwart high levels of oxidative stress and chronic inflammation in the body—two factors that have a major role in the development of ED. And let’s not forget about the role of microcirculation in ED. Microcirculation refers to blood flow throughout the smallest blood vessels and capillaries in your body—like the ones in the penis.

Obviously, you can’t get an erection without a free flow of blood. And it just so happens that atherosclerosis (the hardening and narrowing of the arteries) is the number one culprit behind ED.

And when you consider the fact that decreased levels of melatonin are common in patients with diabetes and high blood pressure, it only makes sense that low levels might also be the culprit behind ED. 

If you’ve been struggling with ED, you might want to consider adding melatonin to your daily supplement rotation. I recommend a starting dose of 3 mg (but never more than 15 mg) at bedtime. Feel free to experiment over time in order to find the dosage that works best for you.

Getting to the heart of ED

Of course, it would be great if that was all it took to restore youthful virility. But unfortunately, finding a permanent solution for erectile dysfunction isn’t usually as simple as popping a pill—even a safe, natural one like melatonin.

Given the close ties between your heart and your sexual health, a broader approach to this problem (including interventions focused on diet, exercise, and nutritional supplementation) is almost always necessary. With that being said, you may have noticed that a huge portion of this issue is devoted to cardiovascular health—and if you follow the steps I outlined, you can count on firmer, longer-lasting erections, too. I also encourage you to revisit the January 2017 issue (“Beyond the little blue pill”), where you’ll find a more in-depth conversation about ED… including how to cure it at any age.


1. Bozkurt A, et al. Int Braz J Urol. 2018 Jul-Aug;44(4):794-799. ff09