The most precious thing for most representatives of the strong half of humanity is their masculine strength. The stronger sex is proud of capability to have sex many times a night. And therefore, the prospect of losing potency scares almost more than death – it is a loss of strength and pride, a kind of funeral knell ringing. Frightened by the first failure in bed, men suffer in silence, or indulge in all their seriousness, harass their relatives or swallow quack drugs. Pride does not allow them to see a doctor, but in vain. In many cases, erectile dysfunction (the medical name for impotency) is treatable. In some cases, it signals rather serious diseases that are best diagnosed on time.
Erectile dysfunction is diagnosed if a man fails in 3 out of 4 sexual acts. The most important diagnostic symptom to be established is the nature of dysfunction. The complete absence of erection, as a rule, signals physiological or age-related disorders, the safety of morning erections and successful acts of masturbation say that the problem is mainly psychological. But may be the reason is somewhere else. For centuries, scientists have been concerned about the main causes depriving the strong sex of male power. And here is a breakthrough conclusion we are going to uncover in this article.
Medical experts who published an article in the American Journal of Human Genetics in 2018 declared that presence of the mutations that increased the chances of developing diabetes made their owner equally prone to acquire impotency and problems in their personal lives. Erectile issues affect every fifth aged man, but we know almost nothing about the causes of erectile dysfunction. Nevertheless, the recent findings of scientists have shown that it could have a genetic nature.
According to researchers, approximately every second man aged 40 to 70 suffers from sexual problems, and the likelihood of their occurrence is growing rapidly with the increase of years. In this regard, according to ancient Roman and medieval chronicles, humanity has changed little over the past few millennia.
The reasons for ED, as well as possible methods of dealing with it, remain the subject of debate among scientists. All scientific searches have led only to development of Viagra so far, which is able of eliminating some of the physical, but not psychological symptoms of male health issues. The disease is associated with many neurological, hormonal and vascular factors. Meanwhile, experts have long suspected that genes play an important role in some cases of ED. At the same time, it is not so easy to find a specific part of the genome responsible for the increased risk of impotency.
Until recently, geneticists could not find a hint implying that genes might be associated with ED occurrence at a relatively young age. In 2018, they discovered the first such DNA site on the sixth chromosome located in the part of the genome next to SIM1 gene controlling the functioning of male genital organs. The same gene is associated with another important problem affecting men – obesity and metabolic syndrome. According to the lead author of the study, identification of this SIM1 locus as a risk factor for the development of erectile dysfunction can be called an excellent result, since it proves the existence of the genetic component of the disease. This idea inspired the team of researchers to check whether there is a link between erectile dysfunction, diabetes, and mutations in this gene and its environs.
To do this, scientists analyzed the data collected by the UK Biobank and a similar project conducted by the health services of Estonia. In total, over 223 thousand men participated in medical trials, a small part of which, about six thousand, suffered from impotency and took Viagra, Kamagra and other PDE5 inhibitors.
By comparing their genomes, the team of researchers confirmed that SIM1 was indeed associated with erectile dysfunction. Mutations in the DNA that separates it from the MCHR2 gene controlling the work of half a dozen of other parts of the genome increase the likelihood of erectile dysfunction by 20-24%. This section of DNA, as shown by subsequent experiments on cell cultures, was especially active in hypothalamus – hormonal center of brain. Apparently, it changes the way brain produces signaling molecules that are responsible for preparing male body for sex or directly disrupts the chains of neurons associated with sexual desire.
It is noteworthy that this same analysis revealed another curious pattern. The appearance of this mutation in the vicinity of SIM1 and MCHR2 likewise increased the probability of having type 2 diabetes. Moreover, the presence of other typos in the genes associated with diabetes increased the chances of getting impotency by 11-12%. This pattern was not a coincidence, since other scientists have recently found evidence that diabetes contributes to the development of male infertility. Such common roots of these diseases, respectively, suggest that an active fight against diabetes will help manhood to get rid of their two main problems.
Moreover, experts are developing methods for treating erectile dysfunction, for example, using stem cells and a penis implant with a ‘memory’ of the desired shape. Scientists believe this is another proof that infertility is partially related to human heredity. The study involved 310 men aged 18 to 21 years. Scientists found that for the parents of all participants, it took more than a year to conceive a child due to a small number of sperm or a lack of healthy male germ cells in semen of their fathers. Genes play an important role in sperm development. But it still remains unclear to which of the parents the men suffering from infertility owes this disease.
Some studies have shown that poor sperm characteristics are more common in men whose mothers have been treated for infertility. Although it is not known what affects the composition of the seminal fluid: heredity or treatment received by the mother. Only young people whose parents were not treated for infertility took part in this study. Analysis of participants’ sperm showed that the ones with poor heredity had a decrease in sperm concentration in seminal fluid, as well as lack of normal fertile sperm cells, which was 23% more likely than in case with men whose parents were healthy.
If infertility is really associated with heredity, its prevalence in the population will increase every day, in direct proportion to the number of couples suffering from infertility and resorting to reproductive medicine. But to confirm this hypothesis, further research with a large number of participants is necessary.