Gout is associated with an increased risk of erectile dysfunction, a UK case control study has found.
For men with a diagnosis of gout the relative risk of erectile dysfunction is 15% higher compared to men matched for age and other confounding factors, an analysis of UK primary care database shows.
Researchers identified 2290 newly diagnosed cases of erectile dysfunction among more than 38,000 patients with gout and compared them with 8447 cases of erectile dysfunction among more than 154,000 men without gout matched for age and variables such as BMI.
In multivariate analysis, the hazard ratio for erectile dysfunction was 1.15 for patients with gout compared to those without gout.
The risk of erectile dysfunction appeared to be stronger (HR 1.31) when the analysis was restricted to men with gout taking urate-lowering medication.
Writing in the Journal of Rheumatology, the US researchers who conducted the analysis say the findings confirm the results obtained in a previous smaller study they conducted in 200 gout patients from their own university clinic at Rutgers University, New Jersey.
While some of the association might be due to shared risk factors such as age, obesity, diabetes and hyperlidaemia, there is also a possible link between erectile dysfunction, chronic inflammation and hyperuricaemia, they suggested.
“Our current study provides the first general population evidence for an independent association between incident gout and the risk of incident erectile dysfunction, to our knowledge,” they say.
High serum levels of uric acid may contribute to erectile dysfunction by causing oxidative stress in vascular smooth muscle cells and microvascular disease, they suggest.
Increased circulating levels of inflammatory and pro-thrombotic compounds in gout may also contribute to dysfunction of the endothelium of the narrow penile arties, they add.
“Despite its importance, little attention has been paid to the effect of gout on sexual function. Increasing awareness of the presence of ED in patients with gout should in turn lead to earlier medical attention and treatment for this distressing condition.