Exercise may protect against erectile dysfunction

EMORY — Increased physical activity is associated with better sexual function in men under 40, according to a new study.

The study, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, assessed the association between physical activity and erectile function in young, healthy men ages 18 to 40. Previous studies have suggested that erectile dysfunction in men under 40 is correlated with increased cardiovascular risks.

“The men in our study who exercised more seemed to experience a protective benefit against erectile dysfunction,” says Wayland Hsiao, MD, co-author of the study and assistant professor of urology at the Emory University School of Medicine.


“We hope that early screening for ED may be a gateway issue to help motivate young men to live healthily on a consistent basis so that they can possibly avoid health issues associated with a sedentary lifestyle, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. We see this as just the beginning.”

Study participants self-administered two surveys: the Paffenbarger Physical Activity Questionnaire and the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF).

The Paffenburger Physical Activity Questionnaire translates patient-reported physical activity into weekly energy expenditure to determine whether a participant is sedentary or active. The IIEF is a 15-question survey for the measurement of erectile function.

The study reported improved erectile function in men under 40 with increased exercise, as well as higher rates of sexual dysfunction in sedentary men under 40.

“Several studies have evaluated the relationship between exercise and erectile function in older or obese men,” says study co-author Chad W.M. Ritenour, MD, director of the Emory’s Men’s Health Center and associate professor of urology.

“Our goal with this particular study was to determine if there is a connection between increased exercise and better erectile function in younger men.”

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