American men who have problems with glycemic control, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome have a higher risk of developing erectile dysfunction (ED), according to a recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine explored the associations of diabetic severity and metabolic syndrome in sample of 3,306 men in the United States.
Previous research has shown that ED is common in men with type 2 diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. Diabetic men may develop ED about ten to fifteen years earlier than men without diabetes.
The study authors also noted that more than one third of Americans have metabolic syndrome. Symptoms of this condition include abdominal obesity, high triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, and problems with blood sugar.
The researchers used the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for the years of 2001-2002 and 2003-2004 for this study. The NHANES provides health and nutrition information on adults and children in the U.S. The data is culled from interviews, medical exams, and lab tests.
The researchers based their analysis on 3,306 men who answered an ED-related question on the NHANES. The question asked men to indicate how frequently they were able to get and keep an erection.
Among these men, the weighted population prevalence of ED was 19.9%. Seven percent of the men had type 2 diabetes and 17.6% had metabolic syndrome.
The chances of developing ED were highest for men with poor glycemic control and severe cases of insulin resistance. The odds were also high for men who had not met the criteria for diabetes, but still had problems with glycemic control.
These issues may interfere with the vaso-relaxation necessary for good erectile function.
Metabolic syndrome was also associated with ED, especially for younger men. The authors reported that men under age 40 with metabolic syndrome were five times more likely to develop ED.
Some symptoms of metabolic syndrome, such as high blood pressure and low HDL cholesterol, can promote atherosclerosis, which impairs blood flow to the penis. Other symptoms, like insulin resistance and obesity, can contribute to erection problems by lowering testosterone levels.
Learning more about the connections between ED, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome may inspire men to make healthy choices.
“Public health efforts to reduce the prevalence of obesity and to improve management of [type 2 diabetes] may help lessen the considerable burden of ED in the middle-aged and older male population,” the authors wrote.
“Conversely, educating the public about the [associations among ED, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes] may help motivate men to implement lifestyle changes that might yield extensive health benefits,” they added.
The Journal of Sexual Medicine
Weinberg, Aviva E., MD, et al.
“Diabetes Severity, Metabolic Syndrome, and the Risk of Erectile Dysfunction”
(Full-text. First published online: September 8, 2013)