Sexual dysfunction and erectile impotence in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Chest. 1982 Apr;81(4):413-21. doi: 10.1378/chest.81.4.413.


We studied 20 men (ages 46 to 69, mean 45 years) with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (FEV1 of 0.55 to 2.1 L), to determine the relative importance of pulmonary impairment vs other occult physical or psychologic factors in the genesis of sexual dysfunction. Seven subjects had ceased sexual activity concomitant with worsening of their pulmonary symptoms; six because of erectile impotence and one due to dyspnea. Frequency of intercourse for the remaining 13 was 16 percent of prelung disease levels, and libido was decreased to 25 percent of premorbid levels. Nocturnal penile tumescence monitoring disclosed that six subjects had organogenic erectile impotence (OEI). None of the subjects showed signs of peripheral vascular disease as assessed by Doppler examination of peripheral pulses (including penile). The mean bulbocavernosus reflex latency (BCRL) for the OEI group (N = 5) was 40.2 msec, while that for the group with full nocturnal erections (N = 10) was 34.5 msec (P less than 0.005). Four subjects had occult diabetes mellitus evident on oral glucose tolerance tests, and one had evidence of an androgen deficit. The correlation coefficient for rank by sexual dysfunction vs pulmonary impairment and age was 0.66 (P less than 0.005) and 0.24 P greater than 0.05), respectively. Subjects with OEI tended to have the worst pulmonary function test results and the highest T-scores on the hypochondriasis, depression, and hysteria scales of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. Data suggest that sexual dysfunction worsens as lung disease worsens and that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may be associated with male impotence in the absence of other commonly known causes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Coitus
  • Erectile Dysfunction / etiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / blood
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Libido
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / complications*
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / psychology
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • MMPI
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Penis / innervation
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Testosterone
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone