Modifying Risk Factors Eases Erectile Dysfunction

April 7, 2014

And the inability to perform sexually may be linked to a range of other health problems.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) in aging men is a dynamic disorder the incidence and remission of which are predicted by a range of modifiable risk factors, according to the results of a new study.

“From a clinical point of view, the inability of some men to perform sexually can also be linked to a range of other health problems, many of which can be debilitating or potentially fatal,” said Professor Gary Wittert, Head of the Discipline of Medicine at the University of Adelaide in Australia and Director of the University’s Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health.

“Our study saw a large proportion of men suffering from some form of erectile dysfunction, which is a concern,” Professor Wittert said. “The major risk factors for this are typically physical conditions rather than psychological ones, such as being overweight or obese, a higher level of alcohol intake, having sleeping difficulties or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and age.”

Professor Wittert and colleagues collected data from 810 randomly selected men residing in northern and western Adelaide, aged 35 to 80 years at baseline, who made clinic visits 5 years apart. At baseline, about one-fourth of the men had ED. ED incidence and remission were observed in about 30% of the men. The incidence of low solitary sexual desire was about 18%; remission occurred in 15% of the men.

Using regression models, the researchers found certain predictors of incident ED, including higher age, lower income, higher abdominal fat mass, low alcohol intake, higher risk of OSA, voiding lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS), depression, and diabetes mellitus (DM). Predictors of ED remission were lower age; current employment; and absence of voiding LUTS, angina, DM, and dyslipidemia.

The good news is the study also found that a large proportion of men were naturally overcoming erectile dysfunction issues. The remission rate of those with erectile dysfunction was 29%, “which is very high,” said Professor Wittert. “This shows that many of these factors affecting men are modifiable, offering them an opportunity to do something about their condition.”

Even when medication to help with erectile function is required, it is likely to be considerably more effective if lifestyle factors are addressed. “Erectile dysfunction can be a very serious issue because it’s a marker of underlying cardiovascular disease, and it often occurs before heart conditions become apparent,” said lead author Dr Sean Martin from the University of Adelaide’s Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health. “Therefore, men should consider improving their weight and overall nutrition, exercise more, drink less alcohol, and have a better night’s sleep, as well as address risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol.”

“This is not only likely to improve their sexual ability but will improve their cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of developing diabetes if they don’t already have it,” he said.

The researchers published their results online in the February 18, 2014, issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine.