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A study of individuals in Vietnam seeking help for erectile dysfunction revealed that these individuals also have an increased risk of suffering from anxiety and depression. The risk was higher among non-office workers, those with medium and high levels of work-related stress, individuals with multiple shameful experiences related to the dysfunction, and those dissatisfied with their intercourse skills. The research was published in the American Journal of Men’s Health.

Erectile dysfunction is a common medical condition characterized by the inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual performance. It can occur at any age but is more common in men older than 40. The causes of erectile dysfunction are diverse and can be either psychological, or physical, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or neurological disorders. Hormonal imbalances and certain medications can also contribute to the development of erectile dysfunction.

Individuals with erectile dysfunction tend show heightened levels of anxiety and depression. This might particularly be the case in traditional Asian populations where discussions about sex are a taboo. In these societies, men are expected to conform to societal perceptions of masculinity that does not leave any room for sexual failure. Due to this, many men in Vietnam have difficulties in openly addressing issues related to their sexual functioning.

The lead author of the study, Nguyen Quang, and his colleagues aimed to identify factors that might influence the levels of anxiety and depression among patients with erectile dysfunction. They hoped that their findings would help clinicians in diagnosing and developing effective treatment plans to enhance the overall well-being of these individuals.

The study involved 390 adult patients diagnosed with erectile dysfunction who sought medical examination at the Center for Andrology of Viet Duc University Hospital in Vietnam. The average age of the participants was 38 years.

Participants completed a 51-question survey that gathered demographic information, medical history, lifestyle factors, and various other characteristics. The survey also included assessments of erectile function (the International Index of Erectile Function – 15), anxiety (the General Anxiety Disorder – 7 scale), and depression (the Patient Health Questionnaire).

The results showed that 18% of the participants had high levels of anxiety or depression. Participants with low levels of depression or anxiety tended to have better erectile function, orgasmic function, stronger sexual desire, and higher intercourse satisfaction.

According to the erectile function assessment scores, 91% of participants with low anxiety and depression levels were not classified as having erectile dysfunction, compared to only 78% of participants from the high depression or anxiety group. Individuals with high levels of depression or anxiety were more likely to be non-office workers, to experience medium or high levels of work-related stress, to report more than one shameful experience related to erectile dysfunction, to suffer from moderate or high erectile dysfunction, and to have lower intercourse satisfaction.

“The cross-sectional study conducted on Vietnamese patients with ED [erectile dysfunction] revealed that 17.69% of patients exhibited HAD [high anxiety or depression]. The study identified a relationship between seven variables, namely accommodation, occupation, stress level with work, shameful experience with sex-related ED, practice psychological relaxation, classification of IIEF-5 [erectile dysfunction assessment], and satisfaction with intercourse skills and the presence of anxiety and depression in these patients,” the study authors conclude.

The study helps identify correlates of depression and anxiety in individuals seeking help for erectile function problems. However, it should be noted that the study design does not allow and cause-and-effect conclusions to be drawn from the results. Additionally, all participants came from a single hospital. Results on culturally and geographically more diverse samples might not be the same.

The paper, “Predicting Anxiety and Depression Among Erectile Dysfunction Patients: A Cross-Sectional Study,” was authored by Nguyen Quang, Le Van Truong, Eric Chung, Bui Van Quang, Luu Quang Long, Nguyen Thanh Ngoc, Nguyen Thanh Minh, Do Mai Anh, Nguyen Dinh Thanh, and Nguyen Truong Nam.

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