A clinical study found that obese men with erectile dysfunction (ED) are shown to have low levels of hormones, such as testosterone. The findings also show that certain conditions associated with obesity, particularly hypertension, are the most important determinants of obesity-related ED. The study was published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, the official journal of the International Society for Sexual Medicine.
"This is a landmark study in that it shows that sexual health is clearly linked to overall health, and that improving one’s general health provides a man the opportunity to improve his erectile function," said Dr. Irwin Goldstein, editor-in-chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine.
The link between obesity and male potency dates from the Byzantine era, when it was thought that a large stomach impaired a man’s ability to have sexual intercourse. A large body of evidence has substantiated the possible negative effects of obesity on male sexual function. This is particularly significant today, as the prevalence of obesity has more than doubled in the last 25 years. Excess abdominal fat, cardiovascular disease, high blood lipids and type-2 diabetes characterize a condition known as metabolic syndrome, which has recently been associated with erectile dysfunction.
The study included 2,435 male patients who sought treatment at an outpatient clinic for sexual dysfunction between 2001 and 2007. The results showed that obesity was significantly associated with a higher physical contribution to ED, while there was no difference seen with relational or psychological determinants. As the severity level of obesity increased, levels of testosterone decreased (two out of three patients with morbid obesity had low testosterone). Obese patients were also more likely to have abnormalities in penile blood flow. Psychological disturbances related to obesity did not seem to play a major role in developing obesity-related ED.
"The link between obesity and ED might be a useful motivation for men to improve their health-related lifestyle choices,” says Dr. Mario Maggi, co-author of the study.
ABOUT THE STUDY: This study is published inThe Journal of Sexual Medicine. Media wishing to receive a PDF copy may contact
Mario Maggi, MD, is a professor in the department of clinical physiopathology, andrology unit at the University of Florence.
Irwin Goldstein, M.D., is director of Sexual Medicine, Alvarado Hospital, San Diego and linical professor of xurgery at University of California, San Diego. He can be reached at San Diego Sexual Medicine at 619-265-8865.
The Journal of Sexual Medicine is a peer-reviewed publication founded in 2004 and is the official journal of the International Society for Sexual Medicine, its five regional affiliated societies and the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health. It publishes multi-disciplinary basic science and clinical research to define and understand the scientific basis of male and female sexual function and dysfunction.The Journal carries an Impact Factor of 6.199 and is ranked by the Thomson ISI Journal Citation Reports as the No. 1 urology publication in the Urology/Nephrology category worldwide. For more info, please visit
The International Society for Sexual Medicine (ISSM) was founded in 1982 for the purpose of promoting, throughout the international scientific community, research and knowledge in sexual medicine, considered as the subspecialty area of medicine that embraces the study, diagnosis and treatment of the sexual health concerns of men and women. The society has more than 2,700 members worldwide, with five regional societies that are affiliated with ISSM: the Africa Gulf Society for Sexual Medicine, Asia Pacific Society for Sexual Medicine, European Society for Sexual Medicine, Latin American Society for Sexual Medicine, and Sexual Medicine Society of North America. For more information please visit http://www.issm.info/.
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