Simple At Home Test for Men Experiencing Sex and Urinating Difficulties

Numerous studies have shown that obesity contributes significantly toward metabolic syndrome, which has a direct negative impact on a man’s cardiovascular health. Less well studied, however, are the effects of metabolic syndrome on two major quality of life issues for men: sexual function and urinary health.

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While difficulties with sexual performance have been associated with obesity, it has not been clearly associated with difficulties involving urination. One of the most common urination difficulties faced by men is overly-frequent urinating that is generally associated with an enlarged prostate gland. However, a recent study has found that an enlarged prostate is not always the cause of frequent urination and that a simple test performed at home can indicate a potential cause for difficulties in both the bedroom and in the bathroom.

In a recent study published in the British Journal of Urology International (BJUI), researchers from the Institute for Bladder and Prostate Health at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell, enrolled 409 men ranging from 40-91 years of age, who were diagnosed with lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS).

Lower urinary tract symptoms in men encompasses difficulties with storage, voiding, and/or post-micturition—a sensation of incomplete emptying and/or post-urinating “dribble.” LUTS is common in older men with an incidence reported of up to 90% in men aged 50- to 80-years-old. LUTS increases from 3% when a man reaches his early 40’s, to 42% by the time he is 75. One of the more prevalent health issues arising from voiding problems is being awakened at night from sleep multiple times with the urge to urinate. Normal frequency of urination for a man is once per night. A need to urinate twice or more is considered to be a medical condition known as “nocturia.”

In the study, the participants’ waistlines were measured and then they were divided into 3 groups based on their waistline sizes. The three groups consisted of men with a waist circumference of less than 36 inches (37.5%), waists that were between 36-40 inches (33.5%), and waists greater than 40 inches (29%).

What the researchers found was that an increase in waist size is associated with an increase in the need to urinate. Thirty-nine percent of the men with the largest waistlines urinated more than eight times in 24 hours in comparison to 27% of the men in the middle group and 16% in the smallest waist size group.

Furthermore, not only was there a positive correlation between waistline size and a need to urinate, but also a positive correlation with frequent nighttime urination (nocturia) and sexual difficulties involving erection performance and ejaculation.

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Ranking from the largest to the middle to the smallest waistline groupings, nighttime urination greater than twice a night was observed in 44%, 29% and 15% of the men respectively. For erectile dysfunction the numbers were 74.5%, 50% and 32% respectively. And, for ejaculation problems the numbers were 65%, 40% and 21% respectively.

According to a press release issued about the study: "The findings demonstrate that obesity in men—part of a growing global epidemic—affects their well-being in profound ways," says senior study investigator Dr. Steven A. Kaplan, chief of the Institute for Bladder and Prostate Health at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. "We have to think of the body in a much more holistic way. What we eat can have devastating consequences on more than just our hearts," Dr. Kaplan says. "Quality of life issues, such as sexual and voiding health, can be affected as well in drastic ways."

Although the study does not reveal how a large waistline can lead to sexual dysfunction and lower urinary tract symptoms, the authors of the paper hypothesize that obesity may be affecting blood flow to the pelvis and/or altering hormone levels.

The good news is that additional findings reveal that by decreasing a man’s belly circumference by just 2.5 inches may lead to significant improvement of sexual performance and less frequent urination.

"We now have an expanded understanding of how obesity can impact the health of men, and a simple way to recognize which men might be affected in these ways," Dr. Kaplan says. "This adds even more importance to the recommendation that men should maintain a healthy weight for their overall well-being."

Therefore, if you are experiencing sexual and urinary dysfunction and your last physical has not revealed an enlarged prostate gland, then it may be time to go to your closet and see if the labels on your pants correlate with the timing of your body’s difficulties in the bedroom and in the bathroom.

Reference: “Central obesity as measured by waist circumference is predictive of severity of lower urinary tract symptoms” British Journal of Urology International (Aug. 2012) Vol. 110, Issue 4, pp.540-545; Richard K. Lee, Doreen Chung, Bilal Chughtai, Alexis E. Te and Steven A. Kaplan.

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