A modest amount of weight loss over a short time may help improve sexual function… (STR / AFP/Getty Images )
Obese men who want to improve their sexual health might have another solution besides their erectile dysfunction drugs. A study finds that overweight men who lost just 5% of their weight over eight weeks saw improvements in erectile dysfunction, sexual desire and urinary tract symptoms.
The small study focused on 31 obese men with a body mass index of 30 or greater and who had Type 2 diabetes. Some were put on a low-calorie diet that included liquid meal replacements and others were assigned to a high-protein, low-fat diet that decreased their calorie intake by 600 calories a day. For 42 weeks afterward the participants stayed on the high-protein diet, or were switched to it.
Those on the low-calorie diet lost 10% of their body weight and 10% off their waist circumference, and those on the high-protein diet lost 5% of their weight and waist circumference. But participants in both groups improved their plasma glucose, LDL ("bad") cholesterol, erectile function, urinary symptoms, sexual desire and endothelial function. Endothelial cells form a thin layer and line the inside surface of blood vessels. Dysfunctional cells can be a marker for vascular disease and may signal early development of athersclerosis.
Weight loss and improvement of insulin sensitivity, the authors wrote, could increase the production of testicular testosterone, and in turn, enhance sexual function.
"Our findings are consistent with the evidence that not only erectile function, but also lower urinary tract symptoms are a marker of cardio-metabolic risk," said Dr. Gary Wittert of the University of Adelaide in Australia, in a news release. "The evidence that improvement can be achieved by modest weight loss, in particular when a diet is of high nutritional quality, is of public health significance in framing public health messages that resonate with men."
The study was released Monday in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.