Men may be more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED) if they have previously been diagnosed with hemorrhoids, particularly if they are aged under 40 years, report researchers.
"We hope that the results of this study will encourage clinicians dealing with patients afflicted with hemorrhoids to inform their patients about their increased risks of suffering from ED," say Herng-Ching Lin (Taipei Medical University, Taiwan) and colleagues.
Their analysis showed that 1572 (24.9%) of 6310 individuals who had been diagnosed with ED between January 2001 and December 2009 had also previously received a diagnosis of hemorrhoids. However, of 31,550 individuals who were matched for age and index year and who did not have ED, only 4491 (14.2%) had previously been diagnosed with hemorrhoids.
Logistic regression analysis showed that the men who had ED were 90% more likely than those who did not have it to have previously suffered from hemorrhoids.
Further analysis by age group revealed that the association was strongest among younger men.
Indeed, of the men with ED, those aged less than 30 years were 3.71 times more likely to have previously experienced hemorrhoids than their age-matched controls, while those aged 30-39 years and 40-49 years were 2.39 and 1.69 times more likely, respectively, compared with their age-matched controls.
Writing in the International Journal of Andrology, Lin et al say there are several potential explanations for this.
"A greater share of the older men in the study likely suffered from ED on account of factors that were unrelated to hemorrhoids such as naturally decreased testosterone levels," they say. "In addition… the localized swelling of the varicose veins around the deep perineum may induce local irritation and erectile disorders."
"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to document the association between ED and hemorrhoids based on a nationwide population data set," says the team.
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