Men who have erectile dysfunction may be at a higher risk for early death, regardless of testosterone levels. This information comes from a new study published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.

“As both vascular disease and low testosterone levels can influence erectile function, sexual symptoms can be an early sign for increased cardiovascular risk and mortality,” said lead researcher Leen Antonio, M.D., Ph.D., of KU Leuven-University Hospitals in Belgium.

Previous studies have suggested that low testosterone levels have been linked to a higher risk of death in middle-aged and older men. They have also found a link between sexual dysfunction and mortality in older men. However, the results from these larger studies are somewhat inconsistent.

This is what lead Antonio and his team to further the study of erectile dysfunction and death. Their study used data from the European Male Ageing Study (EMAS), a large observational study that was designed to analyze age-related hormonal changes and various health outcomes in men.

Researchers took data from 1,913 participants from five medical centers. They analyzed the connection between their hormone measurements and sexual function at the beginning of the study and again more than 12 years later.

They found that during the follow-up period, 483 men died. In those participants with normal testosterone levels, the presence of sexual symptoms, particularly erectile dysfunction, increased the risk of death by 51 percent compared to those without these symptoms. Overall, it was noted that men with low total testosterone levels and sexual symptoms had a higher risk of death compared with men with normal testosterone levels and no sexual symptoms.

Researchers found that men with erectile dysfunction, poor morning erections, and low libido had a higher mortality risk compared to men with no sexual symptoms. The risk for these participants with all three symptoms was almost 1.8 times higher compared to men without symptoms. In men with just erectile dysfunction, the risk of dying was 1.4 times higher compared to men without the sexual symptom.

Low Levels of Free Testosterone

The study also showed that levels of free testosterone (the testosterone that is easily used by the body) were lower in those who died. It was concluded that men who had the lowest levels of free testosterone had a higher risk of death compared to men who had the highest levels.

This study helps to underline the importance of men’s health, in particular, getting testosterone levels checked regularly. A yearly check-up with a doctor is the best way to stay on top of health, so be sure to mention any sexual symptoms you may be experiencing.

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