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Bleeding Gums May Double Erectile Dysfunction Risk

Update Date: Mar 27, 2013 12:41 PM EDT

Experts warn that men who have bleeding gums may be twice as likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction.

The study published in the Journal of Sex Medicine revealed that men in their 30s with severe gum disease have more than double the chance of suffering problems in the bedroom compared to those with healthy gums.

Researchers explained that when people have gum disease, bacteria from their mouth enters their bloodstream and hardens blood vessels and arteries like in patients with heart disease.

Researchers said the hardening of the vessels and arteries can increase the risk of erectile dysfunction.

The latest findings are supported by previous studies showing that erectile dysfunction is an early warning sign of heart disease. Researchers explain that cardiovascular problems can lead to heart disease because the body the body needs ample blood supply for an erection as the blood vessels in a man's nether regions are smaller than those near the heart. 

However, the link between bacteria and heart disease is still not fully understood. Experts have suggested that germs may trigger a harmful immune system response and cause blood vessels to become inflamed or contribute to fatty deposits in the arteries.

Turkish researchers from Inonu University studied 80 male patients with erectile dysfunction and 82 health male participants aged 30 to 40 years old.  Researchers found that 53 percent of men with erectile dysfunction had severe gum disease, while only 23 percent of those without it had the disease.

"We know that periodontal diseases cause systemic endothelial dysfunction, which leads to vascular pathology," lead study author Dr. Fatih Oguz, an assistant professor in the department of urology in the School of Medicine at Inonu University in Malatya, Turkey, told HealthDay. "And vascular pathologies are the most common cause of erectile dysfunction."

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 4 percent to 12 percent of American adults have advanced gum disease.  Gum disease not only affects men in the bedroom. Past studies have linked gum disease to systemic vascular diseases like coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke and premature births.

"Erectile dysfunction and chronic periodontitis in humans are caused by similar risk factors, such as aging, smoking, diabetes mellitus and coronary artery disease," Oguz explained.

Dental experts say that while the link may seem frivolous, more and more research identifies severe gum disease as a possible cause of erectile dysfunction.

"Not only does oral health become a problem, self-confidence, esteem and relationships could suffer, too," said Dr. Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, according to the Daily Mail.

"To avoid it even becoming an issue, there are a number of things you can do to stop gum disease from developing," he said, adding that regularly brushing and flossing is the best way to keep gum disease at bay. 

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