Research suggests that there is a connection between erectile dysfunction (ED) and osteoporosis, a bone disorder. In fact, a 2016 study in the journal Medicine reported that men with ED are more than three times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men without ED.
Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones and makes them more susceptible to breaks and fractures. A person can get osteoporosis at any age, but the risk increases with older age.
For the study, researchers from Taiwan looked at information from 4,460 men age 40 and older. All of the men had ED. Next, the scientists studied records from 17,480 men without ED who were of similar ages. Overall, the average age of the participants was 58 years.
Over time, 5.92% of the men in the ED group developed osteoporosis, but only 3.65% of the men without ED did. The men with ED also tended to get osteoporosis more quickly than those without ED, and they had higher rates of high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism, high lipid levels, stroke, and chronic pulmonary disease.
It wasn’t clear why men with ED were more likely to eventually have osteoporosis. The researchers noted that more research was needed. They did suggest some possible theories, including low testosterone or vitamin D deficiency.
Past research has indeed found a link between low testosterone and ED. In men, some testosterone naturally converts to estrogen, a hormone that helps keep bones healthy. If a man has low testosterone levels, less estrogen is produced, which could compromise bone health. Testosterone is important for erections, too.
Men who are having trouble getting erections should see their doctor for a checkup. ED is a sign of several medical conditions, including diabetes and heart disease, so it’s best to have a full physical. It’s a good idea to be screened for osteoporosis, low testosterone, and vitamin D deficiency as well.