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Shift work disrupts erectile, sexual function in men

13 Sep 2020

Shift work sleep disorder (SWSD) negatively impacts erectile function, according to a recent study, suggesting that men who work night shifts suffer from poor erectile function.

The study included 754 men who were made to complete a battery of questionnaires, as follows: the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF), the Patient Health Questionniare-9, and the SWSD questionnaire. Information about shift work schedule, comorbidities, and use of phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors and of testosterone were also collected.

Most of the participants (72.9 percent) were standard daytime workers, though 204 men (27.1 percent) reported working nonstandard shifts in the past month. Forty-six were deemed to have SWSD, and none of these men had diabetes mellitus. Exercise rates and the prevalence of comorbidities were comparable across participant subgroups.

Compared with men who worked daytime shifts, participants with SWSD saw significantly worse erectile function, with a mean 2.8-point decrease (p<0.01). Orgasmic function was likewise impaired in SWSD participants (0.72-point decrease; p=0.01). Comparing nonstandard with standard shift workers, however, showed no such interactions.

Moreover, sexual desire (p<0.01) and intercourse and overall satisfaction (p<0.01 for both) were likewise significantly worse in men with SWSD, but not in those without the condition but worked nonstandard shifts.

Notably, researchers found that the use of testosterone attenuated the negative impacts of SWSD and led to an increase in erectile function scores of 2.90 points (p<0.01). Exercise had the same effect, improving scores in all IIEF domains, except for erectile function, among nonstandard shift workers with or without SWSD.

“These results suggest that increased exercise may improve overall sexual function among men with nontraditional work hours regardless of SWSD,” researchers said.

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