Listen up men and the people who love them. If you have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), you’re at a higher risk for another condition that can affect your love life. Older men with COPD could develop erectile dysfunction – or ED. It’s a subject that can be difficult to discuss, but Millennium Physician Group Pulmonologist and Critical Care Specialist Sadiq Al-Nakeeb, MD, explains the connection between COPD and erectile dysfunction.
“Men with COPD do have a higher prevalence of erectile dysfunction, or ED,” he admits. “Up to close to 68%. And that does affect their quality of life.”
COPD is a condition that affects the lungs, causing breathing problems like emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The condition affects 16 million Americans. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports ED is frequently seen in COPD patients, and hypoxemia and limitation of physical activity are thought to be contributing causes.
“The exact mechanism is still unclear,” Dr. Al-Nakeeb explains. “But it’s been noted that low oxygen levels play a key role in erectile dysfunction among COPD patients.”
Another risk factor for COPD patients that increases their risk of ED is smoking. In fact, studies show that smokers with COPD tend to have much more severe ed issues.
“Smoking cessation may reduce sexual dysfunction in ED and COPDers,” Dr. Al-Nakeeb says. “I would advise them to stop smoking and increase physical activity. Even something as simple as walking does improve their endurance and does lower the incidence of shortness of breath”.
There isn’t currently a cure for COPD. Treatments can’t reverse lung damage but they can help manage symptoms and control exacerbations of COPD or help prevent additional damage in the lungs. One recent study found that 60% of sexually active people with COPD had to make changes to their sexual life because of the condition.
The NIH states It’s important for physicians to question the sexual functions in patients with COPD. And Dr. Al-Nakeeb adds that all men should focus more on their health and be proactive with their care.