June 11, 2004 -- Problems in the bathroom may be related to problems in the bedroom for many men as they get older, according to new research.
The study shows that urinary tract problems caused by an enlarged prostate, such as getting up many times during the night to urinate, may be associated with erectile dysfunction and other problems relating to sex in older men. They say these two extremely frequent conditions may share a common cause.
Researchers say lower urinary tract symptoms become more common as men age and their prostates enlarge (an enlarged prostate restricts the flow of urine). Meanwhile, problems with erectile dysfunction also become more prevalent in older men, affecting more than 100 million men worldwide over age 65.
But researchers say few studies have looked at whether the two issues are related or simply a by-product of age.
Urinary Symptoms Linked to Sexual Dysfunction
In this study, published in the current issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, researchers studied 2,115 men between the ages of 40 and 79. The men completed questionnaires about their sexual function and urinary tract symptoms every two years.
Researchers found that each of the indicators of sexual function was inversely related to the severity of urinary tract symptoms reported by the men. As the men's urinary symptoms increased, their level of sexual function decreased.
After adjusting for age, urinary tract symptoms resulting from an enlarged prostate that were most strongly associated with sexual dysfunction were:
- A feeling of urgency
- Needing to get up multiple times at night to urinate
- A weak urine stream
- Straining to start urinating
These symptoms were associated with:
- Difficulty getting or maintaining an erection
- The way men felt about problems with sexual drive, erection, and ejaculation
- Sexual satisfaction problems
However, the association with men's urinary tract symptoms and sexual dysfunction diminished with advancing age. No association between these symptoms and most sexual problems were found in men over age 70.
Researchers say that because both of these conditions are common in aging man, it may be very difficult to see if a true association exists outside of an age-related one.
"This observation shows there may be a common cause that someday may prove amenable to medical treatments that could be effective for treating both conditions," says researcher Steven Jacobsen, MD, PhD, of the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minn., in a news release.