Scientists recently concluded a study of 382 men (191 with psoriasis and 191 without) to determine whether there’s a link between psoriasis and erectile dysfunction. Conducted at the Guangdong Provincial Dermatology Hospital in Guangzhou, China, the study found that 53% of subjects with psoriasis also suffered from erectile dysfunction, compared to only 40% of those without psoriasis. While a test group of less than 400 men is hardly conclusive, it’s still enough to strongly indicate the presence of a connection. The exact nature of the connection, however, has yet to be fully determined.
In cases where psoriasis symptoms manifest directly on the penis, it probably doesn’t take a scientific study to determine the link — the commonly associated itching and discomfort would naturally be aggravated in such a sensitive location. But what about psoriasis on the more typical body parts? Can flaky, scaly elbows or hands be connected to ED? It seems likely.
Because psoriasis is closely tied to diabetes and high blood pressure, it’s very possible these same circulatory problems can restrict blood flow to the penis. If so, then many ways of alleviating psoriasis and promoting circulation may also serve to help with the erectile dysfunction at the same time, from eating anti-inflammatory foods to getting more exercise.
Another potential cause of the psoriasis-ED link is the very same “vicious cycle” most people living with psoriasis already face. Stress leads to flare-ups, flare-ups create more stress, and so on. Erectile dysfunction can get caught in this circle as the resulting anxiety and depression can lead to even more psoriasis and ED alike. Again, treating the psoriasis in these cases can also help with the erectile dysfunction. Our article “Psoriasis and Depression” can help you get started.
Of course, it’s very likely that the real link between erectile dysfunction and psoriasis varies from one man to the next, and may actually result from a combination of factors. If you find yourself juggling both of these unpleasant conditions, what should be your next step? As always, the first thing you should do is have an open and honest conversation with your doctor. Erectile dysfunction is something many men would rather hope “just goes away” than talk about, but your doctor can’t help until you let them know the problem exists.
In addition to talking with you doctor, always stay diligent in treating your psoriasis. Whether your erectile dysfunction is caused by your psoriasis, or merely a separate condition aggravated by related issues — treating the one can often help with the other. So take good care of your skin, eat right, and avoid your triggers.
For more information about erectile dysfunction and psoriasis:
The Emotional Toll of Psoriasis – WebMD