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COPD and Erectile Dysfunction – Facts and Fiction

COPD and Erectile Dysfunction – Facts and Fiction

The news are overflowing with reports that men with COPD have high rates of erectile dysfunction.

Is that really true? What is the connection between COPD and erectile dysfunction?

The truth is that relationship is a bit more complex. In fact the research that is being promoted is not news at all.

Let’s examine the published research in more detail. The researchers looked at patients who have COPD and those who don’t. They asked patients about the presence of a variety of factors such as erectile dysfunction, history of smoking and a number of other conditions associated with COPD.

What did they find? They found that patients with COPD are more likely to be smokers and are more likely to have erectile dysfunction. Is that surprising? Not at all. We have known for a long time that smokers are much more likely to have erectile dysfunction. We also know that smoking is a major risk factor for COPD. In fact most patients with COPD are smokers.

So the question remains does COPD causes erectile dysfunction? This study does not answer this question. What it does is confirms what we have known for a long time: smokers get erectile dysfunction and COPD among other problems. The paper does not even attempt to look at whether erectile dysfunction is caused by COPD. To do that would require multi-variable analysis to tease out the factors contributing to erectile dysfunction in patients with COPD.  It is fairly obvious that lack of oxygen and blood delivery to the penis causes erectile dysfunction. That is caused by smoking and lack of oxygen caused by COPD.

It is true that patients with COPD are more likely to have erectile dysfunction than patients without COPD but that is intuitive based on our previous knowledge that patients with COPD are much more likely to be heavy smokers and that heavy smokers are much more likely to get erectile dysfunction than nonsmokers.

We also know that patients on home oxygen therapy are not exactly candidates for great sex. They get short of breath with each thrust.

Let’s focus on what really matters – the news should be that many men and women still smoke despite the known risks of smoking.

Let’s get them to quit smoking. Then we can treat their erectile dysfunction.

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