A man’s gait could be associated with his erectile function, according to new research in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
Men who are physically active are less likely to develop erectile dysfunction (ED), but until now, experts weren’t sure to what extent physical function, such as gait, played a role.
Gait refers to the way in which a person walks or moves on foot.
The study included 324 men in Japan who were participants in the Iwaki Health Promotion Project, a program designed to prevent lifestyle-related diseases and promote healthy habits. Over seven days, participants completed questionnaires and underwent physical exams, including blood tests.
Erections were assessed using the 5-item International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF-5). Overall scores on the IIEF-5 range from 5 to 25 points, with higher scores indicating better erectile function. In this study, the researchers used a benchmark score of 16 points to categorize participants. Those whose scores were below 16 were considered the “low” (poorer erectile function) group, and those with scores of 16 and above were called the “high” (better erectile function) group.
Three methods were used to evaluate physical function. The 10-meter gait speed test was described as “walking 2 meters in front of the start line of a 10-meter walkway and [slowing] down for 2 meters after reaching the 10-meter finish line.” Participants also completed a 2-step test – measurement of the distance of 2 steps. Grip strength was tested as well.
The men’s average age was 51 years, and the average IIEF-5 score was 16 points. About 48% of the men were in the low IIEF-5 group; the remaining 52% were placed in the high IIEF-5 group.
All three physical functions were “significantly inferior” in the low IIEF-5 group, the authors reported:
|Physical Function||Mean Result for Low IIEF-5 Group||Mean Result for High IIEF-5 Group|
|10-m gait speed||4.0 s||3.5 s|
|Two-step score [maximum distance of 2 steps (cm) divided by height (cm)]||1.53||1.66|
|Grip strength||37.6 kg||41.4 kg|
In addition, the 2-step score was independently associated with ED. The authors pointed out that ankle joint motion, which might be related to pelvic floor muscles, is an important factor in a 2-step score. “The relationship between ankle joint motion and erectile function remains unclear, but the risk of ED in men with low 2-step scores might be attributed to weak pelvic floor muscles,” they wrote.
They recommended further research to explore any causal relationship between gait and ED.
The Journal of Sexual Medicine
Okamoto, Teppei, MD, PhD, et al.
“The Relationship Between Gait Function and Erectile Dysfunction: Results from a Community-Based Cross-Sectional Study in Japan”
(Full-text. Published online: September 12, 2019)