Men who have psoriasis may be more likely to experience erectile dysfunction

A Chinese study suggests that men who have psoriasis may be more likely to experience erectile dysfunction (ED) than other men of their own age who do not have psoriasis. Plus, if they struggle with depression or have health conditions like diabetes or hypertension, then the incidence of sexual difficulties is even higher.

Research was conducted on a sample size of 191 patients with psoriasis and an equal number of healthy males to study their sexual function. Only 40% of the males in the healthy control group reported erectile dysfunction, whereas in the group with males who had psoriasis, the incidence was 53%. Also, the severity of the erectile dysfunction was higher in males with psoriasis than in the control group, who reported milder difficulties.

According to an email sent by senior study author Dr. Suyun Ji of Guangdong Provincial Dermatology Hospital in Guangzhou, "They must pay attention to their blood pressure, blood lipids, glucose level and psychological state". Therefore, it may be possible to make a difference in the sexual health and well-being of males with psoriasis who develop erectile dysfunction, by maintaining blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels in an acceptable range and through evaluation and treatment for depression.

Ji and his co-workers have presented a report in the International Journal of Impotence Research, online February 11 which states that among males with psoriasis who reported that they had erectile dysfunction, 20% had mild issues and 6% experienced severe symptoms. Whereas, in males who did not have psoriasis, the statistics for mild and severe symptoms stood at 20% and 2% respectively.

The study also found that the severity of erectile dysfunction was directly proportional to the severity of depression.

One shortcoming of the study is the point that the subjects were not selected arbitrarily to take part in the study. Hence, as the authors’ record, there is a possibility that the sample included men who were more comfortable and less hesitant in discussing their sexual health. So, this means that there is a likelihood of getting non-identical results in a wide-ranging sample of males.

However, based on these results, the authors have concluded that men who have psoriasis should undergo regular evaluation for sexual dysfunction, depression and risk factors of cardiovascular disorders like diabetes and hypertension.

Dr. Alejandro Molina-Leyva, a dermatologist at Complejo Hospitalario Torrecardenas in Almeria, Spain, who wasn't involved in any capacity in this study says that these results add credence to an increasing number of research projects that link psoriasis to erectile dysfunction and depression. In his email, he further goes on to say that men who have psoriasis are often obese or check out positive on the other cardiovascular risk factors that may impede the blood circulation in the body, including in the penis. Psoriasis can also affect the penis, leading to pain and discomfort during intercourse. These men may also suffer from body-image issues or other psychological issues that affect their sexual performance.

Molina Leyva goes on to add that, “The psychological impairment of the disease, including anxiety, depression, embarrassment of their body because of psoriasis plaques, stigmatization and low self-esteem, reduce sexual desire and produce insecurity and lack of concentration during sexual relationships, developing erectile dysfunction."

Dr. Jon Goulding, a dermatologist at the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust in Birmingham, U.K., who too wasn't involved in the study, opines that any man who faces erectile dysfunction should see the doctor irrespective of the fact that they have psoriasis or not. In his email, he further adds, "A screen for cardiovascular risk factors (e.g. Diabetes, hypertension etc.) is crucial to pick up those which could be treated, to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Patients with psoriasis already carry a higher than average risk of cardiovascular disease, so they should strictly follow standard public health advice about maintaining a healthy body weight and exercise levels, stop smoking, and reduce alcohol intake. One upside to screening is men can get help with problems in the bedroom if they need it. There are lots of effective treatments for erectile dysfunction if it does develop, so don't suffer in silence."