Physical activity and exercise for erectile dysfunction: systematic review and meta-analysis

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Abstract

Background

A growing body of evidence suggests that physical activity and exercise may improve erectile function.

Objective

To conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis evaluating the effects of physical activity modalities and exercise on erectile function in erectile dysfunction trials.

Methods

A systematic review was conducted in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement. We searched 6 electronic databases between January 1990 and July 2016 and hand-searched reference lists for randomised controlled trials. Only patients with a diagnosis of erectile dysfunction were included. The mean differences between intervention and control groups were calculated for meta-analysis.

Results

7 studies were eligible, including 478 participants allocated to aerobic, pelvic or combined exercise interventions. Follow-up ranged from 8 weeks to 2 years. The risk of bias in the trials was deemed moderate to high mainly due to impossible blinding of patients and personnel, as well as questionable blinding of outcome assessors. Random-effects meta-analyses were performed. Pooled data showed a statistically significant improvement in erectile function score (mean difference 3.85, 95% CI 2.33 to 5.37). A benefit was still demonstrable after a sensitivity analysis because the mean difference in International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) score ranged from 3.39 (95% CI 1.92 to 4.87) to 4.28 (95% CI 2.54 to 6.02). A benefit was also detected in short-term and long-term interventions as well as in trials evaluating physical activity and exercise alone or in addition to usual care.

Conclusions

The present study suggests that physical activity and exercise interventions improve patient-reported erectile dysfunction, particularly aerobic exercise with moderate-to-vigorous intensity.

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