Association of Diet With Erectile Dysfunction Among Men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study

JAMA Netw Open. 2020 Nov 2;3(11):e2021701. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.21701.


Importance: Erectile dysfunction, especially in younger men, is an early sign of cardiovascular disease and may decrease quality of life. Men may be motivated to adopt a healthy dietary pattern if it lowers their risk of erectile dysfunction.

Objective: To assess the association between adherence to a diet quality index based on healthy dietary patterns and erectile dysfunction in men.

Design, setting, and participants: This population-based prospective cohort study included men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study with follow-up from January 1, 1998, through January 1, 2014. Participants included US male health professionals aged 40 to 75 years at enrollment. Men with erectile dysfunction or a diagnosis of myocardial infarction, diabetes, stroke, or genitourinary cancer at baseline were excluded. Analyses were completed in February 2020.

Exposures: A food frequency questionnaire was used to determine nutrient and food intake every 4 years.

Main outcomes and measures: Diet quality was assessed by Mediterranean Diet score and the Alternative Healthy Eating Index 2010 score, with higher scores indicating healthier diet. Dietary index scores were cumulatively updated from 1986 until men developed erectile dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, died, or were lost to follow-up. Incident erectile dysfunction was assessed with questionnaires in 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012. Hazard ratios (HRs) by prespecified categories or quintiles of dietary index scores were estimated using Cox proportional hazards regression analyses stratified by age.

Results: Among 21 469 men included in analysis, mean (SD) age at baseline was 62 (8.4) years. During a mean (SD) follow-up of 10.8 (5.4) years and 232 522 person-years, there were 968 incident erectile dysfunction cases among men younger than 60 years, 3703 cases among men aged 60 to less than 70 years, and 4793 cases among men aged 70 years or older. Men younger than 60 years and in the highest category of the Mediterranean Diet score had the lowest relative risk of incident erectile dysfunction compared with men in the lowest category (HR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.66-0.92). Higher Mediterranean diet scores were also inversely associated with incident erectile dysfunction among older men (age 60 to <70 years: HR, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.76-0.89; age ≥70 years: HR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.86-1.00). Men scoring in the highest quintile of the Alternative Healthy Eating Index 2010 also had a lower risk of incident erectile dysfunction, particularly among men age younger than 60 years (quintile 5 vs quintile 1: HR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.63-0.97).

Conclusions and relevance: This cohort study found that adherence to healthy dietary patterns was associated with a lower risk for erectile dysfunction, suggesting that a healthy dietary pattern may play a role in maintaining erectile health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / complications*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diet therapy*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Erectile Dysfunction / diet therapy*
  • Erectile Dysfunction / epidemiology
  • Erectile Dysfunction / etiology*
  • Erectile Dysfunction / physiopathology*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology