Erectile dysfunction (ED) is more common in men with chronic periodontitis (severe gum disease) than men with healthy gums, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
Chronic periodontitis refers to a group of infectious diseases caused by bacteria. These diseases often attack the gums.
Turkish researchers from Inonu University worked with two groups of men between the ages of 30 and 40. One group included 80 men who had ED. The other group, which acted as the control group, did not have erectile difficulties. The two groups were similar in terms of body mass index, household income, and education.
Men who had systemic diseases, such as diabetes mellitus, heart disease, or hypertension were not included in the study. Smokers and men who had had periodontal treatment within the last 12 months were also excluded.
Erectile function was assessed using the International Index of Erectile Function questionnaire. The men also had periodontal examinations to determine the degree of gum disease, if any.
Overall, the researchers found that 53% of the men who had ED also had chronic periodontitis. Only 23% of the men in the control group had gum disease.
After adjusting for age, body mass index, household income, and education level, the researchers found that men with severe chronic periodontitis were 3.29 times more likely to have erectile dysfunction than the men without gum disease.
The connection between gum disease and ED isn’t entirely clear. However, chronic periodontitis can cause endothelial dysfunction that leads to vascular problems. And many cases of ED are caused by vascular issues.
“Many studies have reported that [chronic periodontitis] may induce systemic vascular diseases, such as coronary heart disease, which have been linked with erection problems,” said lead author Dr. Fatih Oğuz in a press statement.
“To our knowledge, erectile dysfunction and [chronic periodontitis] in humans are caused by similar risk factors, such as ageing, smoking, diabetes mellitus, and coronary artery disease,” Dr. Oğuz added. “We therefore excluded men who had systemic disease and who were smokers from this study.”
Dr. Oğuz said that the research team chose men in their thirties for this study to reduce the chances that ageing would affect erectile function.
The study showed an association between chronic periodontitis and erectile dysfunction for men in their thirties, but not a cause-and-effect relationship.
However, the authors suggest that healthcare providers consider periodontal disease when treating younger patients with ED.
The Journal of Sexual Medicine
Oğuz, Fatih, MD, et al.
“Is there a Relationship Between Chronic Periodontitis and Erectile Dysfunction?”
(Full-text. First published online: December 4, 2012)
Gray, Barbara Bronson
“Severe Gum Disease May Be Linked to Impotence”
(December 4, 2012)
“Erectile Dysfunction and Gum Disease Linked Again”
(December 4, 2012)
“Men with erection problems are three times more likely to have inflamed gums”
(Press release. December 4, 2012)