Researchers from Taiwan have found that men with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are more likely to develop erectile dysfunction (ED) when compared to men without CFS.
As the name suggests, chronic fatigue syndrome is marked by ongoing, severe fatigue with no known medical cause. People with CFS often have other physical or psychological symptoms, like pain or depression.
Past research has examined the relationship between CFS and female sexual dysfunction. However, not much was known about how CFS might affect men’s sexual health.
In this study, the research team focused specifically on CFS and organic ED. This type of erectile dysfunction has physical causes rather than psychological ones. For example, problems with nerves or hormones can lead to organic ED.
The scientists collected information from the National Health Insurance Research Database, a universal insurance system in Taiwan. The database includes information on doctor’s visits, hospitalizations, medications, and diagnosed diseases.
They identified 1,976 men over age 20 with newly diagnosed CFS. For comparison, a group of 7,898 men without CFS were matched by age and comorbidities (coexisting diseases). The average age for both groups was about 50 years. The men were followed for approximately five and a half years.
The team discovered that men with CFS had a 1.88-fold higher risk of organic ED than men without CFS after adjusting for age and comorbidities. Incidence of organic ED was highest in men with CFS between the ages of 40 and 59.
The link might be explained by problems with the autonomic nervous system, the authors suggested. This system controls unconscious functions, like breathing and blood pressure. It is also important for erections. If the system is compromised, then ED is a possible result.
The study was first published in July in the journal Andrology.
Chao, C. H., et al.
“Increased risk of organic erectile dysfunction in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome: a nationwide population-based cohort study”
(Full-text. First published online: July 21, 2015)
“Chronic fatigue syndrome”
(July 1, 2014)