Common approach to managing lower urinary tract symptoms and erectile dysfunction


Run Wang, MD, FACS, Departments of Urology, University of Texas Medical School at Houston and University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 6431 Fannin Street, MSB 6.018, Houston, TX 77030, USA. Tel: +1-713-500-7337 Fax: +1-713-500-0546 E-mail:


The present paper serves as a review of the associations between lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) and erectile dysfunction (ED), with a focus on common and combined pathways for treatment. LUTS and ED are common conditions seen in general urologic practice. Research has started to establish epidemiologic and patho-physiologic links between the two conditions and a strong association confirmed across multiple studies. Men seeking care for one condition should always be interviewed for complaints of the other condition. Proposed common pathways include α-1 adrenergic receptor imbalance, Rho-kinase overactivity, endothelial cell dysfunction and atherosclerosis-induced ischemia. Medical therapy has replaced surgery as the first-line treatment for LUTS in most patients, with the incorporation of α-adrenergic receptor antagonists (α-ARAs) and 5-α-reductase inhibitors (5-ARIs) into everyday practice. Treatment with α-ARAs contributes to some improvement in ED, whereas use of 5-ARIs results in worsened sexual function in some patients. Phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE-5) inhibitors have revolutionized the treatment of ED with a simple oral regimen, and new insights demonstrate a benefit of combined use of PDE-5 inhibitors and α-ARAs. The mechanisms of action of these medications support these observed benefits, and they are being studied in the basic science and clinical settings. In addition, novel mechanisms for therapy have been proposed based on clinical and research observations. The minimally invasive and surgical treatments for LUTS are known to have adverse effects on ejaculatory function, while their effects on erectile function are still debated. Much remains to be investigated, but it is clear that the associations between LUTS and ED lay the foundation for future therapies and possible preventative strategies.