Are Sexual Dysfunction and Urinary Symptoms Related?

Are Sexual Dysfunction and Urinary Symptoms Related?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) and female sexual dysfunction (FSD) are complex conditions that negatively impact one’s ability to experience satisfying, consensual sexual activity. A person’s sexual function can be influenced by physical and psychological factors, so ED/FSD often occur at the same time as other medical conditions such as diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and depression.

Past studies have linked ED/FSD with lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) like overactive bladder (OAB), frequent nighttime urination (nocturia), the feeling of not completely emptying one’s bladder, and urge urinary incontinence (UUI), which is the sudden urge to urinate that can result in leaking urine.

A better understanding of the link between ED/FSD and LUTS could help health care providers to treat patients with both conditions more effectively. To build on this research, the authors of a recent study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine investigated the prevalence of ED/FSD in a sample of 1,060 participants in Colombia. They also examined the association between ED/FSD and LUTS in this population.   

The researchers randomly selected adults (18+) from five Colombian cities with a 1:1 male-female ratio. Of the participants, 57 men and 182 women were sexually inactive. Using the Sexual Health Inventory for Men (SHIM) to assess ED in the sexually active men, the authors found a prevalence of ED of 53% (234 men with ED out of the 442 sexually active men). To assess FSD in the sexually active women, they used the 6-item Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI-6) and found a prevalence of FSD of 39% (146 women with FSD out of the 375 sexually active women).

Men with ED and women with FSD experienced higher rates of LUTS than the other participants, regardless of age. The results of this study showed that 27% of the women with FSD also had moderate-to-severe LUTS, as opposed to 17% of the women without FSD. Additionally, 13% of the men with ED experienced moderate-to-severe LUTS, while 8% of the men without ED did.

Specifically, there were statistically significant associations between ED and UUI and ED and the feeling of not being able to completely empty one’s bladder for the male participants. For women, there were statistically significant associations between FSD and UUI and FSD and nocturia.

More research will need to be done to better understand the nature of the relationship between ED/FSD and LUTS. However, this information may serve as a good first step towards recognizing the link between these conditions and the importance of screening for ED/FSD when someone is experiencing LUTS, and vice versa.


Bravo-Balado, A., Trujillo, C.G., Caicedo, J.I., García, S., Azuero, J., Rondón, M., & Plata, M. (2021). Assessment of Female Sexual Dysfunction and Erectile Dysfunction and Its Association with Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms in Women and Men Over 18 Years Old: Results From the COBaLT Study. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 18(6), 1065-1074.