Larger waistline may lead to sexual, urinary dysfunction

August 15, 2012

As a man's waistline grows, so can his experience with sexual dysfunction and frequent urination, report researchers from New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York.

As a man’s waistline grows, so can his experience with sexual dysfunction and frequent urination, report researchers from New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York.

"The findings demonstrate that obesity in men-part of a growing global epidemic-affects their well-being in profound ways," said senior author Steven A. Kaplan, MD. "We have to think of the body in a much more holistic way. What we eat can have devastating consequences on more than just our hearts."

The results also suggest that losing weight can help men overcome these issues that previously were not directly linked to body mass, Dr. Kaplan said. In fact, additional findings conducted since this study was completed show that eliminating just 2.5 inches from the belly’s circumference may lead to measurable improvement in sexual dysfunction and frequent urination.

The authors, who published their findings in BJU International (2012; 110:540-5), studied 409 men diagnosed with lower urinary tract symptoms at the Institute for Bladder and Prostate Health at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. The goal of the study was to determine whether obesity was linked to LUTS. Of the participants enrolled in the study ranging from 40 to 91 years of age, 37.5% had a waist circumference of less than 36 inches, 33.5% of men had waists that were between 36 and 40 inches, and 29% of men had waists greater than 40 inches.

The authors found that a larger waist size was linked to more frequent urination: 39% of men with the biggest waistlines urinated more than eight times in 24 hours, compared with 27% of men in the middle range and 16% of men with the smallest waists. The same patterns were seen for nighttime urination: 44% of men with the biggest waists had to urinate more than twice at night, compared with 29% of men in the middle-sized group and 15% of the slimmer men.

The authors also surveyed the participants about their sexual health and found that 74.5% of men with the largest waists reported erectile dysfunction, compared with 50% of men in the middle group and 32% of men with the smaller waists.

Dr. Kaplan said he does not know why obesity leads to sexual and urinary dysfunction, but he hypothesizes that vascular or blood flow changes to the pelvis, along with alterations in hormone levels due to obesity, may be the major culprit.

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