Listen up, gentlemen: if you are experiencing some challenges with sexual difficulties and you also have psoriasis, experts believe there may be a link between these two conditions. In fact, two recent research endeavors have looked at a possible association between erectile dysfunction and psoriasis and have raised some questions about this relationship.
Erectile dysfunction and psoriasis
Erectile dysfunction affects approximately 40 percent of men at age 40 and nearly 70 percent of those by age 70. Psoriasis, which is an autoimmune condition, affects 2.2 percent (about 7.5 million) American adults and 2 to 3 percent (125 million) people around the world. The crossover between these two conditions and the impact of treatment is especially interesting to researchers and the men who are living with these situations.
In one review of 28 studies that involved 52,520 case of psoriasis and 1,806,022 controls, the authors found the following:
- The prevalence of sexual ranged from 40.0 percent to 55.6 percent while that of erectile dysfunction was between 34.2 percent to 81.1 percent.
- Features that showed the strongest association between sexual dysfunction and psoriasis were anxiety and depression (5 of 5 studies), psoriatic arthritis (3 of 4 studies) and genital psoriasis (5 of 7 studies)
- When it came to ED, features showing the strongest associations were anxiety and depression (2 of 2 studies) and increasing age (3 of 3 studies)
Another recent investigation (a meta-analysis) conducted by a group of experts looked at whether psoriasis is a risk factor for ED. The reviewers evaluated 1,829,449 participants from eight studies. Of these, 39,490 had had psoriasis for a mean of 6 months to 19.9 years. The authors found that psoriasis was significantly associated with a greater risk of ED.
The question not answered by these two studies is why there is such a link between these two conditions.
One possible reason was offered by Dr. Alejandro Molina-Leyva, a dermatologist in Spain who offered his opinion after publication of an earlier study (2016), which also reported a link between these two conditions.
According to Molina-Leyva, the relationship may have something to do with the fact that psoriasis can affect the penis and cause pain and discomfort during sex. In addition, psoriasis can cause self-image problems. “The psychological impairment of the disease,” he noted, “including anxiety, depression, embarrassment of their body because of psoriasis plaques, stigmatization and low self-esteem reduce sexual desire and produce insecurity and lack of concentration during sexual relationships, developing erectile dysfunction.”
Cleveland Clinic. Erectile dysfunction
Molina-Leyva A et al. Association between psoriasis and sexual and erectile dysfunction in epidemiologic studies: a systematic review. JAMA Dermatology 2018 Oct 10
National Psoriasis Foundation. Statistics
Rapaport L. Men with psoriasis may be more prone to erectile dysfunction. Health News 2016 Mar 14
Zhao S et al. High prevalence of erectile dysfunction in men with psoriasis: evidence from a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Impotence Research 2018 Nov 23