Introduction. Studies have shown an association between erectile dysfunction and sedentary lifestyle in middle-aged men, with a direct correlation between increased physical activity and improved erectile function. Whether or not this relationship is present in young, healthy men has yet to be demonstrated.
Aim. The aim of this study was to assess the association between physical activity and erectile function in young, healthy men.
Main Outcome Measures. The primary end points for our study were: (i) differences in baseline scores of greater than one point per question for the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF); (ii) differences in baseline scores of greater than one point per question for each domain of the IIEF; (iii) exercise energy expenditure; and (iv) predictors of dysfunction as seen on the IIEF.
Methods. The participants were men between the ages of 18 and 40 years old at an academic urology practice. Patients self-administered the Paffenbarger Physical Activity Questionnaire and the IIEF. Patients were stratified by physical activity into two groups: a sedentary group (≤1,400 calories/week) and an active group (>1,400 calories/week). Men presenting for the primary reason of erectile dysfunction or Peyronie's disease were excluded.
Results. Seventy-eight patients had complete information in this study: 27 patients (34.6%) in the sedentary group (≤1,400 kcal/week) and 51 patients (65.4%) in the active group (>1,400 kcal/week). Sedentary lifestyle was associated with increased dysfunction in the following domains of the IIEF: erectile function (44.4% vs. 21.6%, P = 0.04), orgasm function (44.4% vs. 17.7%, P = 0.01), intercourse satisfaction (59.3% vs. 35.3%, P = 0.04), and overall satisfaction (63.0% vs. 35.3%, P = 0.02). There was a trend toward more dysfunction in the sedentary group for total score on the IIEF (44.4% vs. 23.5%, P = 0.057), while sexual desire domain scores were similar in both groups (51.9% vs. 41.2%, P = 0.37).
Conclusions. We have demonstrated that increased physical activity is associated with better sexual function measured by a validated questionnaire in a young, healthy population. Further studies are needed on the long-term effects of exercise, or lack thereof, on erectile function as these men age. Hsiao W, Shrewsberry AB, Moses KA, Johnson TV, Cai AW, Stuhldreher P, Dusseault B, and Ritenour CWM. Exercise is associated with better erectile function in men under 40 as evaluated by the international index of erectile function. J Sex Med 2012;9:524–530.