Erectile dysfunction (ED) is highly prevalent among men with newly diagnosed inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), according to a recent prospective incidence cohort study.

Eugenia Shmidt, MD, of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues studied 69 men with IBD who completed the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF), which measures 5 dimensions of sexual function over the most recent 4 weeks. The group included 41 men with Crohn’s diseases and 28 with ulcerative colitis. The cohort had a mean age at diagnosis of 43.4 years. The men had a minimum follow-up of 2 years.

At baseline, 39% of men had global sexual dysfunction and 94% had ED, Dr Shmidt’s team reported in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Over the 2-year course of the study, the investigators observed no significant change in mean IIEF score, despite improvement in disease activity and quality of life measures. Older age and lower physical and mental component summary scores on the Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) were independently associated with ED.

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“Clinicians should be aware of the high prevalence and risk factors of sexual dysfunction in men with IBD,” the investigators concluded. “We recommend screening for sexual dysfunction in male patients with IBD and considering referral for treatment using pharmacotherapy and behavioral techniques when appropriate.”

The study is the first to examine sexual function in men with newly diagnosed IBD, according to the authors. Another strength of the study was its prospective, longitudinal design. In a discussion of study limitations, Dr Shmidt’s team noted that about one third of patients in their cohort did not have sufficient data for analysis. Although they found no difference in demographics or disease activity scores between completers and noncompleters of the IIEF questionnaires, the study still may be susceptible to response bias, the investigators stated.


Shmidt E, Suárez-Fariñas M, Mallette M, et al. Erectile dysfunction is highly prevalent in men with newly diagnosed inflammatory bowel disease. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2019; published online ahead of print.