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Age-related impotence may improve over time

About one third of older men who are impotent experience natural remission, with symptoms becoming less severe but not necessarily going away completely.

Age-related impotence may improve over time

About one third of older men who are impotent (men with erectile dysfunction) experience natural remission, with symptoms becoming less severe but not necessarily going away completely. However, another third experience a worsening of this condition over time. Erectile dysfunction, which affects more than 150 million men, has received increased attention in recent years due to its high prevalence and the development of effective treatments, such as Viagra. However, little is known about the natural course of erectile dysfunction after onset. To investigate, researchers from the New England Research Institutes in Watertown, Massachusetts, USA, analysed data for 401 men between 40 and 70 years old with varying degrees of erectile dysfunction who were followed for about 9 years. The key and most surprising observation found was the remission in third of men who exhibited natural erectile dysfunction. It was found that symptoms of erectile dysfunction improved during follow-up in a total of 141 men or 35 percent. However, of 323 subjects with minimal or moderate erectile dysfunction, 107 (33 percent) experienced a worsening of erectile dysfunction symptoms. Of 78 men with complete erectile dysfunction, 45 (58 percent) still had complete erectile dysfunction at the end of follow-up. The chance of remission seemed to decline with age and be lower among obese subjects. Additionally, smoking and poorer general health were associated with worsening of erectile dysfunction symptoms. The most important implication of the above study is that it confirms that maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle as one gets older is critical for maintaining, and in some cases improving, male sexual function.
The Journal of Urology,
January 2007
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