A new study has found that middle-aged and elderly men who have erectile dysfunction (ED) are at an increased risk of death regardless of the testosterone level in the blood.
The study has been accepted for presentation at ENDO 2020, the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting, and publication in a special supplemental section of the Journal of the Endocrine Society.
Erectile dysfunction, or ED, means trouble in keeping an erection needed for sex. It affects 30 million men globally. It occurs when the penile blood flow decreases or nerves are damaged. Several factors such as stress, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer treatment or excessive use of certain drugs, can cause ED. Some risk factors are age above 50, obesity and lack of physical activity.
Lead researcher, Leen Antonio, M.D., Ph.D., of KU Leuven-University Hospitals in Belgium, conducted this research and investigated the hormonal changes and their link with health in older men.
The study used European Male Aging data, which was an observational study meant to check age-related changes in hormones and results on health in elderly men. In five medical centers, scientists checked data from 1913 people. Hormone measurements and sex functions were checked to figure out the relationship between them and what was the association between them after 12 years.
12.4 years of average follow-up occurred and the results showed that 483 men died. The researchers found that men with erectile dysfunction and normal testosterone levels had a 51% increased risk of death.
The study revealed that low testosterone levels and sexual symptoms led to a high chance of death when compared with men having normal hormone levels and no symptoms.
Testosterone is a sex hormone in males and plays a major role in the development of penis, testes, voice, hair, muscle growth, bone growth and sperm production. Brain and pituitary gland plays an important role in controlling the secretion of testosterone.
As compared with men having no symptoms, men with erectile dysfunction, poor morning erection and decreased libido had higher chances of dying. With these three symptoms, the chance of dying increased up to 1.8x whereas those with just one symptom of erectile dysfunction had a 1.4x higher risk as compared to men without erectile dysfunction.
Lead researcher Leen Antonio says:
As both vascular disease and low testosterone levels can influence erectile function, sexual symptoms can be an early sign for increased cardiovascular risk and mortality.
Men with lower levels of testosterone had increased risk of death when compared with men having normal levels of hormones.