Stay Fit and Trim to Avoid ED

Erectile dysfunction was associated with being overweight in older men

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) For men, the "golden years" may present some unfortunate obstacles to having sex. Maintaining a healthy weight could keep their sex lives from taking a dive. 

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get or keep an erection for sexual intercourse. Luckily, ED is treatable. It may even be preventable in some cases. 

The National Institutes of Health estimates that ED affects as many as 30 million men in the United States. ED risks increase with age and 17 percent of men in their 60s experience a total inability to become erect.

A recent study found that being obese and having a high body mass index was associated with complete erectile dysfunction. The study also found that simply being overweight was associated with moderate to severe ED. 

"Keeping off the pounds is good for your sexual health "

Pranav Garimella, MD, of Department of Medicine, Hospital of Cook County, Chicago, and colleagues led the study to examine if body size and composition were associated with ED in older men. 

The study included 4,108 men aged 65 and older. Researchers examined participants' body weight, body mass index (BMI), total body fat percentage and the ratio of trunk (body torso) fat to total body fat. 

BMI is calculated using the height and weight of a person. The total body fat percentage is measured by dividing the total weight of body fat by the total body weight. 

Researchers used the Massachusetts Male Aging Study scale to determine if participants had ED. If ED was present, the scale measured the severity of it. Sexually active participants also filled out a questionnaire that asked about their sexual confidence and difficulties with keeping an erection. It also asked questions about their satisfaction with the sexual intercourse during the previous 6 months.  

Overall, 42 percent of the participants reported complete ED and 27 percent had moderately severe ED. Of the 1,659 sexually active participants, 56 percent reported moderate to severe ED. 

Nearly half of all participants were overweight and 21 percent were considered obese. 

Results suggested that complete ED was strongly associated with obesity and a high BMI. For sexually active participants, a greater total body fat percentage was linked to having moderate to severe ED. 

The authors suggested that future studies should look at whether interventions that led to successful weight loss and exercise would improve ED in older men. 

The study had some limitations. The participants were all older, mostly white males that tended to be highly educated. The results may not apply to all of the general population.  

This study, titled "Association Between Body Size and Composition and Erectile Dysfunction in Older Men: Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study," was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. It was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Garimella and colleagues disclosed no conflict on interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 30, 2013
Last Updated:
February 1, 2013