Men who suffer from restless legs syndrome face a higher risk of erectile dysfunction, a new study suggests.
The study followed more than 11,000 men who were free of erectile dysfunction (ED), diabetes, and arthritis when they were enrolled in 2002. Over six years of follow-up, about 2,000 men in the study developed ED.
Even after ruling out the effects of factors known to increase the risk of erectile dysfunction, like age, smoking, obesity, antidepressant medications, and snoring, researchers found that men who had at least five episodes of restless legs syndrome each month were about 50 pc more likely to develop ED than men who had no symptoms of the problem.
Men who experienced more than 14 episodes of restless legs syndrome each month had a 66 pc greater risk of developing ED than men without the condition.
Restless legs syndrome is characterized by unpleasant sensations like pulling or creeping that often strike at night, when muscles are relaxed. These sensations typically compel sufferers to move to relieve their discomfort.
"Restless legs syndrome is a well-known dopamine-related disease," the CBS New quoted study researcher Xiang Gao, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard University and an associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, as saying.
"Dopamine is also important to maintain normal sexual function, erectile function," Gao added.
The study has been presented at the 2011 annual meeting of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.