Lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS), which are often caused by benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), and sexual dysfunction are common in older men, with an overall prevalence of > 50% in men aged > 50 years. Men with LUTS have been reported to experience sexual dysfunction, including ejaculatory loss, painful ejaculation, and erectile dysfunction. This study was conducted to investigate the relationship between LUTS and sexual problems in aging men.
A large-scale, multinational survey was conducted in the US and six European countries to systematically investigate the relationship between LUTS and sexual dysfunction in older men. Detailed questionnaires were mailed to a national representative sample of men aged 50 to 80 years in each country. Selection was made on the basis of age, occupation, geographie region, and population density. LUTS and sexual function were assessed by validated symptom scales, including the International Prostate Symptom Score, the Danish Prostatic Symptom Score, and the International Index of Erectile Function. Subjects also completed a health and demographics questionnaire.
A total of 34,800 surveys were mailed out, 14,254 were completed and returned, and 12,815 were deemed evaluable and included in the analysis. Results were consistent from one country to another. Although 90% of the men had LUTS, only 19% had sought medical help for urinary problems and only 11% were medically treated. Sexual activity was reported by 83% of the sample, with 71% reporting at least one episode of sexual activity during the previous 4 weeks. Sexual disorders and their bothersomeness were strongly related to both age and severity of LUTS. The relationship between sexual problems and LUTS is independent of comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiac disease, and hypercholesterolemeia.
Sexual activity is common in a majority of men over age 50 and is an important component of overall quality of life. The presence and severity of LUTS are independent risk factors for sexual dysfunction in older men. These results highlight the clinical importance of evaluating LUTS in patients with sexual dysfunction, and the need to consider sexual issues in the management of patients with benign prostatic hypertrophy.