Men who struggle with erectile dysfunction already have many challenges. Now a new study indicates that they may have another one: a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. While this does drive home the importance of striving to maintain prime penis health, it seems like a bit of a stretch – so why did the researchers arrive at this conclusion?
As the National Osteoporosis Foundation puts it, osteoporosis is “a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both.” When a person has osteoporosis, their bones become extremely weak or brittle, making it much easier to fracture them in the event of a fall. Sometimes a person with osteoporosis may get a fracture simply from coughing too hard.
Osteoporosis is a condition commonly associated with women, so much so that many men believe they cannot get it. This is simply not true: some sources indicate that 25% of men age 50 or older will break a bone due to osteoporosis. (It can also occur in men younger than 50, although it tends to appear later in life.)
A recent study in Taiwan on a possible erectile dysfunction-osteoporosis link was published in June in the journal Medicine. Entitled “Increased risk of osteoporosis in patients with erectile dysfunction: A nationwide population-based cohort study,” the research looked at 4,460 men (age 40 and up) who were diagnosed with erectile dysfunction between 1996 and 2010. It also looked at 17,480 men from the same age range without erectile dysfunction, in order to have a comparison group.
When the scientists compared the groups, they found that those men who did have erectile dysfunction were about three times more likely to have osteoporosis than those men whose erectile function was typical. Not only that, but osteoporosis seemed to develop more quickly in men with erectile dysfunction than in men without.
Because this was an observational study, it lacked data that could explain why there should be a link between the two conditions. Hopefully, future studies can be designed to answer this question.
However, the authors do have some theories about the possible causes of the link. For example, men with erectile dysfunction often have low testosterone levels, and testosterone is associated with greater bone strength and durability.
Vitamin D levels might also be a factor. The absence of sufficient vitamin D frequently results in a decrease in bone health; some studies indicate that vitamin D may also play a role in protecting the tissue that lines penile blood vessels and keeps them operating efficiently, thus impacting erectile function.
Prevention and treatment
A doctor should be involved in assessing bone health and recommending treatment for osteoporosis. Often increased intake of vitamin D and calcium is recommended to help prevent and to treat osteoporosis. Regular exercise and watching alcohol and tobacco intake are also commonly recommended.
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