Background and objectives: For adult men with congenital heart disease (ACHD), data on erectile dysfunction (ED) is limited. We aimed to assess the frequency of ED, its role in patient-physician communication and to identify parameters predicting ED.
Methods: Male ACHD ≥18 years registered at the German National Register for Congenital Heart Defects were invited to participate in an online questionnaire about sexual health. Participants with presumed ED according to International Index of Erectile Function Score were compared to patients without ED.
Results: The 371 patients responded to the questionnaire (83% with moderate to highly complex ACHD). The 43% presented with more than mild ED. When ED was present, patients complained about general anxiety to be sexually active more often (p<0.05) and underwent sexual activity less frequently compared to those without ED (p<0.05). Age ≥40 years (odds ratio [OR], 3.04; p=0.002), being single (OR, 6.82; p<0.0001), anxiety to be sexually active (OR, 2.64; p=0.0002) and psychiatric disease (OR, 4.33; p<0.0007) emerged as independent predictors for ED. Overall, patients sought medical advice in 6.7% of cases, whilst 29.6% would appreciate an active approach by the physician to address this sensitive topic.
Conclusions: ED is affecting one third to one half of male ACHD according to a questionnaire-based analysis. Older age, being single, fear of sexual activity due to ACHD and psychiatric disorder emerged as independent predictors for ED. These parameters can easily be assessed to identify patients at risk. ED should be addressed proactively by health professionals.
Keywords: Communication; Congenital heart disease; Erectile dysfunction; Quality of life; Sexual activity.
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