For men who have gout, they may also find they are having trouble with erectile dysfunction or ED. This was the results of a population-based study suggesting men who have gout may have an increased risk of ED. This finding supports a possible role for hyperuricemia and inflammation as independent risk factors for ED.
To help identify the results of this study, the researchers used the Health Improvement Network, an electronic medical record database in the United Kingdom. From this database, they identified 2,290 new cases of ED among 38,438 patients with gout with a mean age of 63.6 years and 8,447 ED cases among 154,332 men without gout. What the researchers found was that the risk of incident ED was a significant 15% higher among the men with gout than the comparison group of men without gout. Also, men with gout who were receiving anti-gout treatment had a 29% increased risk for ED.
This study correlates with findings from other studies that have also looked at the connection between men with gout and an increased incidence of ED. A paper published in the Journal of Rheumatology did a cross-sectional study of men aged 18 to 89 who showed a significantly higher proportion of ED cases in men with gout than in men without gout (76% vs 51%). A research study out of Taiwan that appeared in the European Journal of Internal Medicine showed that ED was 1.2 times more likely to develop in men with gout than in men who did not have the condition.
What is gout and how is it linked to ED?
Gout is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis affecting more than 8 million Americans. It is more likely to affect men however women, particularly after menopause, can become more susceptible to developing it also.
The underlying cause of gout is a buildup of excess uric acid in the body called hyperuricemia. The excess uric acid crystals get deposited in the joint cartilage causing excruciatingly painful symptoms within the joints.
Uric acid is a substance formed when our bodies break down purines. Purines are naturally found in all cells of the body and in certain foods. Uric acid dissolves in blood where it is transported to the kidneys and eliminated in the urine. However, some people make too much uric acid to where kidneys can’t process it efficiently causing a buildup of uric acid in the body.
The connection of gout with ED is believed to be caused by deposits of needle-like monosodium urate crystals in the joints which is associated with an abnormally high level of urate in the bloodstream. These crystals lead to inflammation, swelling and pain in the affected joint. Since gout is commonly associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, men with ED also have an increased rate of CVD risk factors.
Other causes of ED
Besides gout, there are other causes of ED which may include the following:
Diabetes – 50% of men who have diabetes also have ED. The elevated blood glucose level and nerve damage leads to inadequate blood flow and nerve damage to the penis.
Obesity – Men carrying excess weight tend to have high cholesterol levels leading to clogged arteries preventing efficient blood flow.
Alcohol, smoking and drugs – Any kind of substance abuse is tough on a man’s brain and heart, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood efficiently and the brain to send signals accurately, therefore leading to ED.
Certain medications – ED can be a side effect of many common medicines such as blood pressure drugs, antihistamines, antidepressants, tranquilizers, and appetite suppressants.
Any man who has gout should also be evaluated for ED. In doing so, this can help men to not only discover a possible underlying cause of his ED but also to help them learn how to better manage their health to prevent gout and other possible causes associated with ED such as heart disease.