Erectile dysfunction and central obesity: an Italian perspective

Asian J Androl. Jul-Aug 2014;16(4):581-91. doi: 10.4103/1008-682X.126386.

Abstract

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a frequent complication of obesity. The aim of this review is to critically analyze the framework of obesity and ED, dissecting the connections between the two pathological entities. Current clinical evidence shows that obesity, and in particular central obesity, is associated with both arteriogenic ED and reduced testosterone (T) levels. It is conceivable that obesity-associated hypogonadism and increased cardiovascular risk might partially justify the higher prevalence of ED in overweight and obese individuals. Conversely, the psychological disturbances related to obesity do not seem to play a major role in the pathogenesis of obesity-related ED. However, both clinical and preclinical data show that the association between ED and visceral fat accumulation is independent from known obesity-associated comorbidities. Therefore, how visceral fat could impair penile microcirculation still remains unknown. This point is particularly relevant since central obesity in ED subjects categorizes individuals at high cardiovascular risk, especially in the youngest ones. The presence of ED in obese subjects might help healthcare professionals in convincing them to initiate a virtuous cycle, where the correction of sexual dysfunction will be the reward for improved lifestyle behavior. Unsatisfying sexual activity represents a meaningful, straightforward motivation for consulting healthcare professionals, who, in turn, should take advantage of the opportunity to encourage obese patients to treat, besides ED, the underlying unfavorable conditions, thus not only restoring erectile function, but also overall health.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Erectile Dysfunction / blood
  • Erectile Dysfunction / complications*
  • Erectile Dysfunction / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Obesity, Abdominal / blood
  • Obesity, Abdominal / complications*
  • Obesity, Abdominal / physiopathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Testosterone / blood*

Substances

  • Testosterone