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Int J Impot Res. 2005 Sep-Oct;17(5):391-8.

Obesity, the metabolic syndrome, and sexual dysfunction.

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Department of Geriatrics and Metabolic Diseases, University of Naples SUN, Naples, Italy.


Sexual problems in both sexes appear to be widespread in society, influenced by both health-related and psychosocial factors, and are associated with impaired quality of life. Epidemiological studies suggest that modifiable health behaviors, including physical activity and leanness, are associated with a reduced risk for erectile dysfunction (ED) among men. Data from other surveys also indicate a higher prevalence of impotence in obese men. Obesity may be a risk factor for sexual dysfunction in both sexes; the data for the metabolic syndrome are very preliminary and need to be confirmed in larger epidemiologic studies. The high prevalence of ED in patients with cardiovascular risk factors suggests that abnormalities of the vasodilator system of penile arteries play an important role in the pathophysiology of ED. We have shown that one-third of obese men with ED can regain their sexual activity after 2 y of adopting health behaviors, mainly regular exercise and reducing weight. Western societies actually spend a huge part of their health care costs on chronic disease treatment and interventions for risk factors. The adoption of healthy lifestyles can reduce the prevalence of obesity and the metabolic syndrome, and hopefully the burden of sexual dysfunction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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