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Restless legs, listless other parts

Erectile dysfunction is more common among older men with restless leg syndrome than in those without it.

world Updated: Jan 02, 2010 00:47 IST

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is more common among older men with restless leg syndrome (RLS) than in those without it.

Results show that ED was 16 per cent more likely in men with RLS symptoms that occur five to 14 times per month and 78 per cent more likely in men whose RLS symptoms occur 15 or more times a month.

The associations were independent of age, body mass index, use of anti-depressants, anxiety and other possible risk factors for RLS.

The results suggest it is likely that the two disorders share common mechanisms, said Xiang Gao, research scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health.

“The mechanisms underlying the association between RLS and erectile dysfunction could be caused by hypofunctioning (less than optimum functioning) of dopamine in the central nervous system, which is associated with both conditions,” said Gao.

Dopamine is believed to release chemicals (endorphins) that allow us to feel pleasure.

Fifty-three percent of RLS patients and 40 percent of participants without RLS reported having erectile dysfunction, defined as a poor or very poor ability to have and maintain an erection sufficient for intercourse.