Erectile dysfunction (ED)–the ability to sustain or achieve an erection–is scarily common, my friends. As much as 52 percent of all men in the US may experience it at one point, as reported by the Cleveland Clinic (http://www.clevelandclinicmeded.com/medicalpubs/diseasemanagement/endocrinology/erectile-dysfunction/).
Another condition, gum disease, is also incredibly common. While you may think there can’t be possibly be a connection between these two conditions–I certainly did–there is some evidence there could be something going on between them.
In a study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research, researchers took a look at five studies published between the years 2009 and 2014 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27829669). In total, these studies included medical data on more than 200,000 men. The review of the data led the researchers to conclude that ED is more commonly seen in men with gum disease. In all five studies that were reviewed, ED was more than twice as common in men who were being treated for advanced gum disease than in men with no gum issues, and this was particularly true in men under the age of 40 or older than 59. It’s important to note that the researchers did control for diabetes, as this condition can affect sexual function and increase gum disease risk. In one of the studies reviewed, it was found that treating advanced gum disease improved erectile function in men with ED.
When it comes to why there appears to be a link between ED and advanced gum disease, no one is entirely sure and more research is clearly needed. Other research has suggested that the bacteria involved in gum infections could cause or worsen atherosclerosis, an arterial condition that has been associated with strokes and heart attacks, and ED has been linked to heart disease and is viewed as a warning sign of potential heart troubles now or in the future. The risks for gum disease–aging, diabetes, smoking and more–are also the same things that increase your risk for heart disease.
At the same time, there are a lot of other potential contributors to or causes of ED that have no relation to heart disease, such as depression, certain prescription medicines and sleep disorders like apnea. Even some activities, such as distance bike riding, can cause ED because of the compression of blood vessels and nerves in the area.
The jury is still out on whether ED and gum disease are connected, but it makes sense to ensure your gums are as healthy as possible for other health reasons. And if you’re suffering from ED, don’t do it in silence. This can be linked to other conditions, so speak to your doctor about what you are experiencing!