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COPD and ED are Linked

COPD and ED are Linked

Men with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are at higher risk for erectile dysfunction (ED) than men without COPD.

COPD is an illness that affects the lungs and makes it difficult to breathe. The two main types are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. People with COPD may experience shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, and fatigue.

Experts have reported strong associations between COPD and ED. Often, men with severe cases of COPD have severe ED as well.

Why might men with COPD develop ED? There are a few possible reasons.

As COPD progresses, blood oxygen levels often decrease. When this happens, there is less oxygen for blood to deliver around the body. As a result, the body prioritizes oxygen delivery, sending more oxygen to vital organs, like the heart. Oxygen is important for erections, too, but if levels are low, less oxygen will be delivered to the penis.

Depression and anxiety may also be involved. In addition to physical difficulties, COPD can take its toll on a man’s psychological well-being. He may feel less confident about his sexual function and the anxiety may lead to ED.

Fortunately, there are ways men with COPD can improve their erections. Some use supplemental oxygen during sex or make other adjustments. Communication with a partner or counseling with a therapist can often help with depression and anxiety. And maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a proper diet and fitness plan can also have benefits, although a man should always discuss any dietary and exercise changes with his doctor.

Keep in mind that ED can be treated as well. Pills, injections, and vacuum devices are all possible options. A man’s doctor can help him decide which avenues to explore.


Archives of Italian Urology and Andrology

Lauretti, Stefano, et al.

“Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and erectile dysfunction (ED): Results of the BRED observational study”

(Full-text. Published online: October 5, 2016)

Bottrell, John

“Understanding Oxygen and Oxygen Levels With COPD”

(April 3, 2015)

International Society for Sexual Medicine

“Is there a link between COPD and erectile dysfunction (ED)?”


“Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease”

(Reviewed: June 22, 2015)

Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine

Kahraman, Hasan, et al.

“Erectile dysfunction and sex hormone changes in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients”

(Full-text. Published: October 9, 2013)

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

“What Is COPD?”

(Updated: July 31, 2013)