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Psoriasis and Sexual Behavior in Men

Men with psoriasis have fewer female oral sex partners than men without the disease, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease that affects about 250 million people worldwide. It is also an autoimmune disease, which means the body mistakenly attacks healthy cells in the body. In the case of psoriasis, the immune system causes deep skin cells to rise to the surface too quickly. The result is itchy, red, scaly patches on the skin.

Psoriasis can occur any part of the body, including the genitals. It is estimated that 46% of people with psoriasis have lesions in their genital area at some point. Psoriasis is not contagious. Genital psoriasis can be treated with medicine applied directly to the skin or with ultraviolet light.

Researchers from the University of California Davis wanted to learn more about how psoriasis affects men’s sexual health. The conducted a study that compared the sexual behaviors of men with and without psoriasis.

Sexual Behaviors of Men With Psoriasis

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (a national health survey conducted in the United States), the researchers identified 6,444 men who previously answered a question on whether or not they had psoriasis. These men became the study group.

The men ranged in age from 20 to 59. One hundred seventy of them had been diagnosed with psoriasis; the rest had not.

The most significant finding involved female oral sex partners for heterosexual men. Those with psoriasis had an average of 5 female oral sex partners over their lifetime. Men without psoriasis had an average of 7.5 partners.

The researchers explained that men with psoriasis on their genitals might feel embarrassed during sex. The psoriasis may turn off their female partners and make them less likely to perform oral sex.

Interestingly, the number of female sex partners – not oral sex partners – was not significantly different between the two groups. It could be that men with psoriasis started having sex before the disease began.

The researchers examined the results for non-heterosexual men, too. However, they did not find any significant differences between non-heterosexual men with and without psoriasis. This may be due to the small number of non-heterosexual men with psoriasis involved with the study. Future research with a larger group of men could provide more insight.

Dermatologists and healthcare providers should keep sexual health in mind when treating men with psoriasis, the authors noted.


The Journal of Sexual Medicine

Armstrong, April W., MD, MPH, et al.

“Psoriasis and Sexual Behavior in Men: Examination of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in the United States”

(Full-text. First published online: May 16, 2013)



National Psoriasis Foundation

“About psoriasis”

“Genital Psoriasis”