Sexual Health Q&A

Is there a link between erectile dysfunction (ED) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)?

Research suggests that a link between erectile dysfunction (ED) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is likely.

People with chronic fatigue syndrome feel severe exhaustion that can’t be explained by another medical condition. Symptoms may also include muscle and joint pain, headaches, and trouble concentrating or remembering things. Resting and sleep usually don’t help.

The exact cause of CFS isn’t known. Viral infections, hormonal issues, and problems with the immune system could be involved.

Previously, it was unclear how much CFS affected men’s sexual health. To learn more, researchers from Taiwan conducted a study on the relationship between CFS and erectile dysfunction. The journal Andrology published their findings in July 2015.

The scientists collected data on 1,976 men with newly diagnosed CFS and 7,898 men without CFS. Overall, the participants’ average age was 50 years.

The research team focused on the rates of organic ED among the men. Organic ED has physical causes, like nerve damage or hormonal issues, rather than psychological causes.

The men with CFS had a 1.88-fold higher risk of developing organic ED when compared to the men without CFS. ED rates were highest in men between the ages of 40 and 59 who had CFS.

It’s possible that the problems with the autonomic nervous system, which controls unconscious functions like breathing and digesting food, might explain the link, the authors noted. But more research is needed.

Men who think they might have CFS should see their doctor as soon as they can. CFS may be treated with medication, exercise therapy, and counseling. Practicing good sleep hygiene and managing stress may also help.