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Erectile Dysfunction and Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

  • Author Footnotes
    ∗ Qian Liu and Youpeng Zhang contributed equally.
    Qian Liu
    Footnotes
    ∗ Qian Liu and Youpeng Zhang contributed equally.
    Affiliations
    Department of Urology, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China

    Department of Nosocomial Infection Management, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China
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  • Author Footnotes
    ∗ Qian Liu and Youpeng Zhang contributed equally.
    Youpeng Zhang
    Footnotes
    ∗ Qian Liu and Youpeng Zhang contributed equally.
    Affiliations
    Department of Urology, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China
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  • Jin Wang
    Affiliations
    Department of Urology, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China
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  • Sen Li
    Affiliations
    Department of Urology, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China
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  • Yongbiao Cheng
    Affiliations
    Department of Urology, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China
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  • Jialun Guo
    Affiliations
    Department of Urology, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China
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  • Yong Tang
    Affiliations
    Department of Urology, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China
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  • Hanqing Zeng
    Affiliations
    Department of Urology, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China
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  • Zhaohui Zhu
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author: Zhaohui Zhu, MD, Department of Urology, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430022, China. Tel: (8627)84309728; Fax: (8627) 84309729
    Affiliations
    Department of Urology, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China
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  • Author Footnotes
    ∗ Qian Liu and Youpeng Zhang contributed equally.
Open AccessPublished:June 27, 2018DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2018.05.016

      Abstract

      Background

      Some studies have reported that exposure to depression increases the risk of erectile dysfunction (ED), whereas others have observed no association. Moreover, additional studies have reported that exposure to ED increases the risk of depression.

      Aim

      To identify and quantitatively synthesize all studies evaluating the association between ED and depression and to explore factors that may explain differences in the observed association.

      Methods

      We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis. We searched Medline, Ovid Embase, and the Cochrane Library through October 2017 for studies that had evaluated the association between ED and depression. Studies were included in accordance with Patient Population or Problem, Intervention, Comparison, Outcomes, and Setting (PICOS) inclusion criteria.

      Outcomes

      The odds ratio (OR) was regarded as the effect size, and the heterogeneity across studies was assessed using the I2 statistic.

      Results

      We identified 49 eligible publications. The pooled OR for studies evaluating depression exposure and risk of ED was 1.39 (95% CI: 1.35–1.42; n = 46 publications with 48 studies). Although we observed large heterogeneity (I2 = 93.6%), subgroup analysis indicated that it may have been as a result of variations in study design, comorbidities, ED assessment, depression assessment, the source of the original effect size, etc. No significant publication bias was observed (P = .315), and the overall effect size did not change by excluding any single study. The pooled OR for studies evaluating ED exposure and risk of depression was 2.92 (95% CI: 2.37–3.60; n = 5 publications with 6 studies). No significant heterogeneity (P < .257, I2 = 23.5%) or publication bias (P = .260) was observed.

      Clinical Implications

      Patients reporting ED should be routinely screened for depression, whereas patients presenting with symptoms of depression should be routinely assessed for ED.

      Strengths and Limitations

      There are several strengths to this study. First, evaluations of the association between ED and depression are timely and relevant for clinicians, policymakers, and patients. Second, we intentionally conducted 2 meta-analyses on the association, allowing us to include all potentially relevant studies. However, our study also possesses some limitations. First, the OR is a measure of association that only reveals whether an association is present. Thus, this study was unable to determine the direction of causality between ED and depression. Second, the high heterogeneity among studies makes it difficult to generalize the conclusions.

      Conclusion

      This study demonstrates an association between depression and ED. Policymakers, clinicians and patients should attend to the association between depression and ED.
      Liu Q, Zhang Y, Wang J, et al. Erectile dysfunction and depression: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Sex Med 2018;15:1073–1082.

      Key Words

      Introduction

      Erectile dysfunction (ED), which is defined as the persistent inability to attain and maintain an erection sufficient to permit satisfactory sexual performance,
      • NIH Consensus Conference
      Impotence. NIH Consensus Development Panel on Impotence.
      can have a negative effect on quality of life for both patients and their partners because of its effects on both physical and psychosocial health. Epidemiologic studies have revealed that the prevalence and incidence of ED are high among men,

      Jungwirth A, Diemer T, Kopa Z, et al. European Association of Urology Guidelines on Male Infertility. Available at: http://uroweb.org/guideline/male-infertility/(2017). Accessed June 20, 2018.

      with evidence suggesting that ED will affect an estimated 322 million individuals worldwide by the year 2025.
      • Bacon C.G.
      • Mittleman M.A.
      • Kawachi I.
      • et al.
      Sexual function in men older than 50 years of age: results from the health professionals follow-up study.
      However, research has indicated that ED may also be an early predictor of future cardiovascular events and coronary artery disease
      • Vicenzini E.
      • Altieri M.
      • Michetti P.M.
      • et al.
      Cerebral vasomotor reactivity is reduced in patients with erectile dysfunction.
      ; 4 meta-analyses have confirmed the relationship between ED and cardiovascular risk.
      • Wenbin Guo M.M.
      • Cun Liao M.M.
      • Zou Y.
      • et al.
      Erectile dysfunction and risk of clinical cardiovascular events: A meta-analysis of seven cohort studies.
      • Yamada T.
      • Hara K.
      • Umematsu H.
      • et al.
      Erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular events in diabetic men: a meta-analysis of observational studies.
      • Dong J.Y.
      • Zhang Y.H.
      • Qin L.Q.
      Erectile dysfunction and risk of cardiovascular disease: Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies.
      • Vlachopoulos C.V.
      • Terentes-Printzios D.G.
      • Ioakeimidis N.K.
      • et al.
      Prediction of cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality with erectile dysfunction: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies.
      Corona et al
      • Corona G.
      • Monami M.
      • Boddi V.
      • et al.
      Male sexuality and cardiovascular risk. A cohort study in patients with erectile dysfunction.
      demonstrated that the impairment of penile Doppler ultrasound is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
      • Giovanni C.
      • Giorgio F.
      • Edoardo M.
      • et al.
      Penile Doppler ultrasound in patients with erectile dysfunction (ED): Role of peak systolic velocity measured in the flaccid state in predicting arteriogenic ED and silent coronary artery disease.
      A meta-analysis by Gupta et al
      • Gupta B.P.
      • Murad M.H.
      • Clifton M.M.
      • et al.
      The effect of lifestyle modification and cardiovascular risk factor reduction on erectile dysfunction: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
      reported that only-lifestyle modification and pharmacotherapy for cardiovascular risk factors can improve ED. Depression, which may significantly impact quality of life, is common among patients with ED,
      • Seftel A.D.
      • Sun P.
      • Swindle R.
      The prevalence of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes mellitus and depression in men with erectile dysfunction.
      • Martin-Morales A.
      • Sanchez-Cruz J.J.
      • Saenz D.T.I.
      • et al.
      Prevalence and independent risk factors for erectile dysfunction in Spain: Results of the Epidemiologia de la Disfuncion Erectil Masculina Study.
      with a reported frequency ranging from 8.7%
      • Weber M.F.
      • Smith D.P.
      • O'Connell D.L.
      • et al.
      Risk factors for erectile dysfunction in a cohort of 108 477. Australian men.
      to 43.1%.
      • Pietrzyk B.
      • Olszanecka-Glinianowicz M.
      • Owczarek A.
      • et al.
      Depressive symptoms in patients diagnosed with benign prostatic hyperplasia.
      A systematic review and meta-analysis also indicated that there is an association between depression and sexual dysfunction for both men and women; however, the term sexual dysfunction encompasses not only ED, but also includes sexual desire, sexual aversion, lack of sexual enjoyment, failure of genital response, and more.
      • Atlantis E.
      • Sullivan T.
      Bidirectional association between depression and sexual dysfunction: A systematic review and meta-analysis.
      Numerous primary studies have focused on the association between ED and depression.
      • Shiri R.
      • Koskimaki J.
      • Tammela T.L.J.
      • et al.
      Bidirectional relationship between depression and erectile dysfunction.
      • Lotti F.
      • Corona G.
      • Rastrelli G.
      • et al.
      Clinical correlates of erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation in men with couple infertility.
      • Wong S.Y.S.
      • Chan D.
      • Hong A.
      • et al.
      Depression and lower urinary tract symptoms: Two important correlates of erectile dysfunction in middle-aged men in Hong Kong, China.
      • Cheng J.Y.W.
      • Ng E.M.L.
      • Ko J.S.N.
      Depressive symptomatology and male sexual functions in late life.
      • Teoh J.B.F.
      • Yee A.
      • Danaee M.
      • et al.
      Erectile dysfunction among patients on methadone maintenance therapy and its association with quality of life.
      • Lemogne C.
      • Ledru F.
      • Bonierbale M.
      • et al.
      Erectile dysfunction and depressive mood in men with coronary heart disease.
      Although some studies have reported that exposure to depression increases the risk of ED, others observed no association between depressive symptoms and the incidence of ED. Moreover, some studies have reported that ED exposure increases the risk of depression.
      • Takao T.
      • Tsujimura A.
      • Okuda H.
      • et al.
      Lower urinary tract symptoms and erectile dysfunction associated with depression among Japanese patients with late-onset hypogonadism symptoms.
      • Laumann E.O.
      • Kang J.H.
      • Glasser D.B.
      • et al.
      Lower urinary tract symptoms are associated with depressive symptoms in white, black and Hispanic men in the United States.
      • Chou P.S.
      • Chou W.P.
      • Chen M.C.
      • et al.
      Newly diagnosed erectile dysfunction and risk of depression: A population-based 5-year follow-up study in Taiwan.
      Quantitative syntheses of these studies may provide evidence of the association between ED and depression and help to elucidate factors influencing odds ratios (ORs).
      Therefore, this study aims to quantitatively synthesize the findings of all studies that had evaluated the association between ED and depression. We performed 2 meta-analyses: 1 summarizing studies evaluating the risk of ED on the basis of exposure to depression, and the other exploring the risk of depression based on exposure to ED. We also explored factors that may explain the differences in ORs, such as differences in study design or the assessment scales used for ED and depression.

      Methods

       Reporting Standards

      The present meta-analysis complies with the standards of reporting meta-analyses of observational studies in epidemiology.
      • Stroup D.F.
      • Berlin J.A.
      • Morton S.C.
      • et al.
      Meta-analysis of observational studies in epidemiology: A proposal for reporting. Meta-analysis Of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (MOOSE) group.

       Eligibility Criteria

      In accordance with the Patient Population or Problem, Intervention, Comparison, Outcomes, and Setting inclusion criteria,
      • Liberati A.
      • Altman D.G.
      • Tetzlaff J.
      • et al.
      The PRISMA statement for reporting systematic reviews and meta-analyses of studies that evaluate health care interventions: explanation and elaboration.
      studies were included if they (1) were performed among male humans; (2) documented exposure to depression or ED; (3) involved the diagnosis or evaluation of depression and ED; (4) included cross-tabulation analysis or calculation of ORs and 95% CIs between depression and ED; and (5) were cohort, case-control, or cross-sectional studies. Studies in English and of any publication type were included.
      Studies were excluded if they were not conducted among male humans; did not document exposure to depression or ED; did not involve the diagnosis of depression and ED; or did not involve cross-tabulation analysis or calculation of ORs and 95% CIs between depression and ED. Commentaries, editorials, meeting abstracts, and review articles lacking original data were excluded. Case series without control groups were also excluded.

       Data Sources

      We conducted a systematic search in Medline, Ovid Embase, and the Cochrane Library. MeSH terms for the search strategy included erectile dysfunction and depression. The complete search strategy for each database is presented in eTable 1. The last search was performed on October 15, 2017. Moreover, all references of the included articles were reviewed.

       Study Selection

      Duplicate references were removed. Independently, 2 reviewers screened all titles and abstracts, and records identified by either reviewer as eligible for inclusion were reviewed in full text. Conflicts were resolved by discussion with a third research member.

       Data Extraction

      A form was developed in accordance with the data extraction template provided by the Cochrane Consumers and Communication Review Group. This form was then pilot-tested on 10 randomly selected eligible articles and refined accordingly. The form included year of publication, first author’s name, country of study, study design, sample size, comorbidities, mean age of patients, ED scale, depression scale, and use of cross-tabulation analysis or ORs and 95% confidence interval (95% CI). Data were independently extracted by the 2 reviewers using the same form, and disagreements were resolved by discussion with another research member. If some required information was not reported in original publications, attempts were made to obtain the data by e-mailing the corresponding authors.

       Quality Assessment

      The quality of individual studies was assessed using the Risk of Bias in Non-randomized Studies—of Interventions (ROBINS-I) tool.
      • Sterne J.A.
      • Hernán M.A.
      • Reeves B.C.
      • et al.
      ROBINS-I: a tool for assessing risk of bias in non-randomised studies of interventions.
      Based on signaling questions, 7 domains were assessed: bias resulting from confounding, bias in selection of participants into study, bias in classification of interventions, bias as a result of departure from intended interventions, bias because of missing data, bias in measurement of outcomes, and bias in selection of the reported results. Depending on the responses to the signaling questions, each domain was classified as follows: low, moderate, serious, or critical risk of bias or no information. An overall risk of bias was defined by combining the results of the 7 domains. If any of the 7 domains was judged as serious or critical risk, the study was classified as exhibiting an overall serious or critical risk, respectively. Risk-of-bias graphs were created based on the results of ROBINS-I ratings. Risk of bias was classified in Review Manager 5.3 as low, high, or unclear risk of bias. Thus, we combined “low” and “moderate” ROBINS-I ratings into “low” category, and “serious” and “critical” ROBINS-I ratings were combined into “high” category. Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation was used to evaluate the quality of evidence.

       Data Synthesis

      Data analyses were conducted using Stata Version 12.0 (Stata Corporation, College Station, TX), Review Manager 5.3 and R 3.4.2. The OR was used as the effect size.
      The heterogeneity across studies was assessed using the I2 statistic.
      • Higgins J.P.
      • Thompson S.G.
      • Deeks J.J.
      • et al.
      Measuring inconsistency in meta-analyses.
      Given the clinical heterogeneity observed, a random-effect model was used. Meta-analyses and forest plots were conducted. In addition, we explored publication bias using Begg’s tests. To explore potential sources of heterogeneity, multiple meta-regression and subgroup analyses were conducted based on prespecified study-level characteristics (eg, the country in which the study was conducted, study design, comorbidities, ED assessment, depression assessment, source of the effect size, quality scores, etc). Sensitivity analyses were conducted to evaluate the robustness of the results.

      Results

       Study Selection

      The searches identified a total of 1,445 citations, following which 533 duplicate citations were removed. We identified 92 potentially eligible publications following the screening of titles and abstracts. We then attempted to access the full text of each candidate study for further assessment, but the full text was inaccessible for 20 articles. Then 52 publications remained, and an additional 3 contained insufficient quantitative data. Although we attempted to contact the authors of these 23 publications via e-mail, we received no reply. Hence, 49 publications were included, 2 of which provided the data on both the risk of ED based on exposure to depression and the risk of depression based on exposure to ED (Figure 1). No eligible studies were identified from the references of the included publications.
      Figure thumbnail gr1
      Figure 1Study selection process. Figure 1 is available in color at www.jsm.jsexmed.org.

       Study Characteristics

      Our meta-analysis included 46 publications (representing 48 studies published from 1997 to 2017) evaluating the risk of ED based on exposure to depression. These 48 studies included a total of 169,927 participants,
      • Pietrzyk B.
      • Olszanecka-Glinianowicz M.
      • Owczarek A.
      • et al.
      Depressive symptoms in patients diagnosed with benign prostatic hyperplasia.
      • Shiri R.
      • Koskimaki J.
      • Tammela T.L.J.
      • et al.
      Bidirectional relationship between depression and erectile dysfunction.
      • Lotti F.
      • Corona G.
      • Rastrelli G.
      • et al.
      Clinical correlates of erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation in men with couple infertility.
      • Wong S.Y.S.
      • Chan D.
      • Hong A.
      • et al.
      Depression and lower urinary tract symptoms: Two important correlates of erectile dysfunction in middle-aged men in Hong Kong, China.
      • Cheng J.Y.W.
      • Ng E.M.L.
      • Ko J.S.N.
      Depressive symptomatology and male sexual functions in late life.
      • Teoh J.B.F.
      • Yee A.
      • Danaee M.
      • et al.
      Erectile dysfunction among patients on methadone maintenance therapy and its association with quality of life.
      • Lemogne C.
      • Ledru F.
      • Bonierbale M.
      • et al.
      Erectile dysfunction and depressive mood in men with coronary heart disease.
      • Blumentals W.A.
      • Brown R.R.
      • Gomez-Caminero A.
      Antihypertensive treatment and erectile dysfunction in a cohort of type II diabetes patients.
      • Nwakanma N.C.
      • Ofoedu J.N.
      Depressive symptoms and marital adjustment among primary care patients with erectile dysfunction in Umuahia, Nigeria.
      • Furukawa S.
      • Sakai T.
      • Niiya T.
      • et al.
      Depressive symptoms and prevalence of erectile dysfunction in Japanese patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: The Dogo Study.
      • Giugliano F.
      • Maiorino M.
      • Bellastella G.
      • et al.
      Determinants of erectile dysfunction in type 2 diabetes.
      • Fragala E.
      • Di Rosa A.
      • Giardina R.
      • et al.
      Determinants of sexual impairment in multiple sclerosis male and female patients with lower urinary tract dysfunction: Results from an Italian cross-sectional study.
      • Crum-Cianflone N.F.
      • Bavaro M.
      • Hale B.
      • et al.
      Erectile dysfunction and hypogonadism among men with HIV.
      • Cordero A.
      • Bertomeu-Martinez V.
      • Mazon P.
      • et al.
      Erectile dysfunction in high-risk hypertensive patients treated with beta-blockade agents.
      • Dan A.
      • Chakraborty K.
      • Mondal M.
      • et al.
      Erectile dysfunction in patients with diabetes mellitus: Its magnitude, predictors and their bio-psycho-social interaction: A study from a developing country.
      • Kim M.
      • Kim S.Y.
      • Rou W.S.
      • et al.
      Erectile dysfunction in patients with liver disease related to chronic hepatitis B.
      • Ji S.
      • Zang Z.
      • Ma H.
      • et al.
      Erectile dysfunction in patients with plaque psoriasis: The relation of depression and cardiovascular factors.
      • Habibi A.
      • Kalbasi S.
      • Saadatjoo S.A.
      • et al.
      Evaluation of Erectile Dysfunction and associated factors in type-II diabetic patients in Birjand, Iran in 2008–2009.
      and
      • Korhonen P.E.
      • Ettala O.
      • Kautiainen H.
      • et al.
      Factors modifying the effect of blood pressure on erectile function.
      • Ettala O.O.
      • Syvanen K.T.
      • Korhonen P.E.
      • et al.
      High-intensity physical activity, stable relationship, and high education level associate with decreasing risk of erectile dysfunction in 1,000 apparently healthy cardiovascular risk subjects.
      • Salomon G.
      • Isbarn H.
      • Budaeus L.
      • et al.
      Importance of baseline potency rate assessment of men diagnosed with clinically localized prostate cancer prior to radical prostatectomy.
      • Jeon Y.J.
      • Yoon D.W.
      • Han D.H.
      • et al.
      Low quality of life and depressive symptoms as an independent risk factor for erectile dysfunction in patients with obstructive sleep apnea.
      • Yavuz D.
      • Acar F.N.O.
      • Yavuz R.
      • et al.
      Male sexual function in patients receiving different types of renal replacement therapy.
      • Huang S.S.
      • Lin C.H.
      • Chan C.H.
      • et al.
      Newly diagnosed major depressive disorder and the risk of erectile dysfunction: A population-based cohort study in Taiwan.
      • Chung S.D.
      • Chen Y.K.
      • Kang J.H.
      • et al.
      Population-based estimates of medical comorbidities in erectile dysfunction in a Taiwanese population.
      • Zheng H.
      • Fan W.
      • Li G.
      • et al.
      Predictors for erectile dysfunction among diabetics.
      • Martin S.A.
      • Atlantis E.
      • Lange K.
      • et al.
      Predictors of sexual dysfunction incidence and remission in men.
      • Molina-Leyva A.
      • Molina-Leyva I.
      • Almodovar-Real A.
      • et al.
      Prevalence and associated factors of erectile dysfunction in patients with moderate to severe psoriasis and healthy population: A comparative study considering physical and psychological factors.
      • Mak R.
      • De Backer G.
      • Kornitzer M.
      • et al.
      Prevalence and correlates of erectile dysfunction in a population-based study in Belgium.
      • Vecchio M.
      • Palmer S.
      • De Berardis G.
      • et al.
      Prevalence and correlates of erectile dysfunction in men on chronic haemodialysis: A multinational cross-sectional study.
      • Moreira J.E.D.
      • Lisboa L.C.F.
      • Villa M.
      • et al.
      Prevalence and correlates of erectile dysfunction in Salvador, Northeastern Brazil: A population-based study.
      • Akkus E.
      • Kadioglu A.
      • Esen A.
      • et al.
      Prevalence and correlates of erectile dysfunction in Turkey: A population-based study.
      • Moreira J.E.D.
      • Abdo C.H.N.
      • Torres E.B.
      • et al.
      Prevalence and correlates of erectile dysfunction: Results of the Brazilian study of sexual behavior.
      • Moreira J.E.D.
      • Bestane W.J.
      • Bartolo E.B.
      • et al.
      Prevalence and determinants of erectile dysfunction in Santos, southeastern Brazil.
      • Perez I.
      • Moreno T.
      • Navarro F.
      • et al.
      Prevalence and factors associated with erectile dysfunction in a cohort of HIV-infected patients.
      • Kantor J.
      • Bilker W.B.
      • Glasser D.B.
      • et al.
      Prevalence of erectile dysfunction and active depression: An analytic cross-sectional study of general medical patients.
      • Zhang Y.X.
      • Zhang X.Q.
      • Wang Q.R.
      • et al.
      Psychological burden, sexual satisfaction and erectile function in men whose partners experience recurrent pregnancy loss in China: A cross-sectional study.
      • Aghighi A.
      • Grigoryan V.H.
      • Delavar A.
      Psychological determinants of erectile dysfunction among middle-aged men.
      • Araujo A.B.
      • Johannes C.B.
      • Feldman H.A.
      • et al.
      Relation between psychosocial risk factors and incident erectile dysfunction: Prospective results from the Massachusetts male aging study.
      • Sugimori H.
      • Yoshida K.
      • Tanaka T.
      • et al.
      Relationships between erectile dysfunction, depression, and anxiety in Japanese subjects.
      • Wong S.Y.S.
      • Leung J.C.S.
      • Woo J.
      Sexual activity, erectile dysfunction and their correlates among 1,566 older Chinese men in Southern China.
      • Smith J.F.
      • Breyer B.N.
      • Eisenberg M.L.
      • et al.
      Sexual function and depressive symptoms among male North American medical students.
      • Suija K.
      • Kerkela M.
      • Rajala U.
      • et al.
      The association between erectile dysfunction, depressive symptoms and testosterone levels among middle-aged men.
      • Akre C.
      • Berchtold A.
      • Gmel G.
      • et al.
      The evolution of sexual dysfunction in young men aged 18–25 years.
      • Najjar A.C.H.
      • Mendes D.O.J.W.
      • Moreira J.E.
      • et al.
      The impact of psychosocial factors on the risk of erectile dysfunction and inhibition of sexual desire in a sample of the Brazilian population.
      • Soterio-Pires J.H.
      • Hirotsu C.
      • Kim L.J.
      • et al.
      The interaction between erectile dysfunction complaints and depression in men: A cross-sectional study about sleep, hormones and quality of life.
      the number of participants in each study ranged from 60
      • Fragala E.
      • Di Rosa A.
      • Giardina R.
      • et al.
      Determinants of sexual impairment in multiple sclerosis male and female patients with lower urinary tract dysfunction: Results from an Italian cross-sectional study.
      to 101,685.
      • Weber M.F.
      • Smith D.P.
      • O'Connell D.L.
      • et al.
      Risk factors for erectile dysfunction in a cohort of 108 477. Australian men.
      We also included 5 publications representing 6 studies evaluating the risk of depression based on exposure to ED. These studies were published between 2006 and 2015 and covered a total of 22,527 participants.
      • Pietrzyk B.
      • Olszanecka-Glinianowicz M.
      • Owczarek A.
      • et al.
      Depressive symptoms in patients diagnosed with benign prostatic hyperplasia.
      • Shiri R.
      • Koskimaki J.
      • Tammela T.L.J.
      • et al.
      Bidirectional relationship between depression and erectile dysfunction.
      • Takao T.
      • Tsujimura A.
      • Okuda H.
      • et al.
      Lower urinary tract symptoms and erectile dysfunction associated with depression among Japanese patients with late-onset hypogonadism symptoms.
      • Laumann E.O.
      • Kang J.H.
      • Glasser D.B.
      • et al.
      Lower urinary tract symptoms are associated with depressive symptoms in white, black and Hispanic men in the United States.
      • Chou P.S.
      • Chou W.P.
      • Chen M.C.
      • et al.
      Newly diagnosed erectile dysfunction and risk of depression: A population-based 5-year follow-up study in Taiwan.
      The number of participants ranged from 40
      • Takao T.
      • Tsujimura A.
      • Okuda H.
      • et al.
      Lower urinary tract symptoms and erectile dysfunction associated with depression among Japanese patients with late-onset hypogonadism symptoms.
      to 15,162
      • Chou P.S.
      • Chou W.P.
      • Chen M.C.
      • et al.
      Newly diagnosed erectile dysfunction and risk of depression: A population-based 5-year follow-up study in Taiwan.
      in each study. Table 1 summarizes the key features of the included studies, and eTable 2 provides detailed information regarding each study.
      Table 1Summary description of included studies
      Study characteristicsIs depression a risk factor for ED?Is ED a risk factor for depression?
      Studies (N = 48)Participants (N = 169,927)Studies (N = 6)Participants (N = 22,527)
      Study design
       Case-control21 (43.8%)31,1082 (33.3%)5,169
       Cross-sectional24 (50.0%)113,5433 (50.0%)2,196
       Cohort3 (6.3%)25,2761 (16.7%)15,162
      Mean age of patients
       ≤4515 (31.3%)31,30800
       >4530 (62.5%)34,3245 (83.3%)20,444
       Not known3 (6.3%)104,2951 (16.7%)2,083
      Country
       Developed31 (64.6%)156,8665 (83.3%)18,492
       Developing16 (33.3%)12,1151 (16.7%)4,035
       Mixed1 (2.1%)94600
      With other disease
       Diabetes6 (12.5%)479500
       Others14 (29.2%)8,5573 (50.0%)4,148
       None28 (58.3%)15,65753 (50.0%)18,379
      ED assessment
       IIEF35 (72.9%)22,9643 (50.0%)4,148
       Others13 (27.1%)146,9633 (50.0%)18,379
      Depression assessment
       BDI13 (27.1%)8,6661 (16.7%)4,035
       CES-D13 (27.1%)7,7081 (16.7%)2,038
       HADS4 (8.3)1,79500
       Others18 (37.5)151,7584 (66%)16,409
      Original effect size
       Cross-tabulation analysis37 (77.1)164,00700
       ORs and 95% CIs11 (22.9)5,9206 (100.0%)22,527
      ROBINS-I
       Low15 (31.3)15,3372 (33.3%)6,118
       Moderate20 (41.7)127,4503 (50.0%)1,247
       Serious13 (27.1)27,1401 (16.7%)15,162
       Critical0000
      BDI = Beck Depression Inventory; CES-D = Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale; ED = erectile dysfunction; HADS = Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale; IIEF = International Index of Erectile Function; OR = odds ratio; ROBINS-I = the Risk of Bias in Non-randomized Studies—of Interventions.

       Study Quality

      The details of the quality assessment are presented in eTable 3. Because of the study design (observational study), the quality of evidence was low for those studies evaluating the risk of ED based on exposure to depression. However, for those studies evaluating the risk of depression based on exposure to ED, the evidence was of moderate quality. Risk-of-bias graphs were presented in eFigure 1. eTable 4 provides the GRADE evidence profile.

       Evidence Synthesis

       Risk of ED Based on Exposure to Depression

      Significant heterogeneity was found across studies (P < .001, I2 = 93.6%), and individual effect sizes ranged from 0.55 (0.27–1.14) to 10.51 (7.30–15.12). The overall effect size was 1.39 (1.35–1.42), and Figure 2 presents the detailed results of the meta-analysis. Begg’s test revealed no significant publication bias across studies (P = .315).
      Figure thumbnail gr2
      Figure 2Forest plot on risk of erectile dysfunction based on exposure to depression. Figure 2 is available in color at www.jsm.jsexmed.org.

       Meta-Regression and Subgroup Analysis

      We developed a multiple regression model with each possible source of heterogeneity (I2_res = 82.42%, adjusted R2 = 0.07%; I2_res: residual variation due to heterogeneity). Table 2 shows the detailed results of the subgroup analysis. We observed a statistically significant interaction favoring cohort studies (P for interaction < .001), along with larger pooled effect sizes for studies conducted in developed countries (P for interaction < .001). Effect sizes were significantly higher for studies in which the mean age of patients was ≤45 (P for interaction < .001). Larger effect sizes were also observed for studies involving patients without comorbidities (P for interaction < .001) and for those in which ED assessments other than the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) were used (P for interaction < .001). Statistically significant differences were also found based on depression assessment used (P for interaction = .047). Effect sizes were significantly higher for studies in which the source of original effect size was determined via cross-tabulation analysis (P for interaction < .001).
      Table 2Subgroup analysis: Is depression a risk factor for ED?
      SubgroupStudies, nPooled ORs (95% CI)Heterogeneity (I2)P for meta-regressionP for interaction
      All studies481.39 (1.35–1.42)93.6% (P < .001)
      Study design
       Case-control211.24 (1.19–1.29)92.7% (P < .001).829<.001
       Cross-sectional241.46 (1.42–1.51)93.6% (P < .001)
       Cohort32.55 (2.12–3.06)87.8% (P < .001)
      Mean age of patients
       ≤45151.94 (1.77–2.12)88.2% (P < .001).619<.001
       >45301.27 (1.22–1.31)92.5% (P < .001)
       Not known31.45 (1.40–1.50)98.7% (P < .001)
      Country
       Developed311.64 (1.53–1.70)91.3% (P < .001).815<.001
       Developing161.19 (1.15–1.23)93.3% (P < .001)
       Mixed12.42 (1.57–3.71)0
      With other disease
       Diabetes61.14 (1.06–1.22)85.2% (P < .001).210<.001
       Others141.22 (1.17–1.27)91.5% (P < .001)
       None281.58 (1.52–1.63)93.7% (P < .001)
      ED assessment
       IIEF351.26 (1.22–1.31)89.0% (P < .001).831<.001
       Others131.52 (1.47–1.57)96.8% (P < .001)
      Depression assessment
       BDI132.19 (1.97–2.44)52.7% (P = .053).622.047
       CES-D131.16 (1.16–1.20)92.6% (P < .001)
       HADS41.66 (1.39–1.99)58.2% (P = .067)
       Others181.600 (1.54–1.66)94.4% (P < .001)
      Original effect size source
       Cross-tabulation analysis371.94 (1.87–2.02)85.7% (P < .001).168<.001
       ORs and 95% CIs111.13 (1.10–1.17)79.3% (P < .001)
      ROBINS-I
       Low151.20 (1.16–1.24)0.322<.001
       Moderate201.59 (1.53 –1.65)89.3% (P < .001)
       Serious132.48 (2.19 –2.80)95.9% (P < .001)
      BDI = Beck Depression Inventory; CES-D = Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale; ED = erectile dysfunction; HADS = Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale; IIEF = International Index of Erectile Function; OR = odds ratio; ROBINS-I = the Risk of Bias in Non-randomized Studies—of Interventions.

       Sensitivity Analyses

      The overall effect size, which ranged from 1.28 (95% CI: 1.24–1.32) to 1.51 (95% CI: 1.47–1.55), did not change by excluding any single study.

       Risk of Depression Based on Exposure to ED

      No significant heterogeneity was observed (P < .257, I2 = 23.5%), and individual effect sizes ranged from 1.64 (0.91–2.95) to 3.62 (2.53–5.18). The overall effect size was 2.92 (95% CI: 2.37–3.60), and Figure 3 shows the detailed results of the meta-analysis. No significant publication bias was found across studies with Begg’s test (P = .260).
      Figure thumbnail gr3
      Figure 3Forest plot on risk of depression based on exposure to erectile dysfunction. Figure 3 is available in color at www.jsm.jsexmed.org.

       Sensitivity Analyses

      The overall effect size, which ranged from 2.62 (95% CI: 2.03–3.39) to 3.18 (95% CI: 2.54–3.98), did not change by excluding any single study.

      Discussion

       Principal Findings

      The findings of the present meta-analysis indicate that exposure to depression increases the risk of ED (OR: 1.39, 95% CI: 1.35–1.42). Our results demonstrated that the risk of ED increases by 39% in patients with depression, and that the incidence of ED is 1.39 times higher in patients with depression than in those without depression. Our results also revealed that exposure to ED increases the risk of depression (OR: 2.92, 95% CI: 2.37–3.60) by 192% and that the incidence of depression is 2.92 times higher in patients with ED than in those without ED. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first meta-analysis to reveal an association between ED and depression.
      Although our meta-analysis of depression exposure and the risk of ED was characterized by large heterogeneity, the subgroup analyses can, in part, account for these differences. The large heterogeneity may be as a result of variations in study country, study design, patient age, comorbidities, ED assessment, depression assessment, and the source of the original effect size. In addition, larger effect sizes were observed for studies in which ED assessments other than the IIEF were used. Similarly, significant differences were also observed based on the depression assessment used, likely because of the unknown reliability and validity of the self-administered ED or depression assessments used in some studies.
      • Weber M.F.
      • Smith D.P.
      • O'Connell D.L.
      • et al.
      Risk factors for erectile dysfunction in a cohort of 108 477. Australian men.
      • Soterio-Pires J.H.
      • Hirotsu C.
      • Kim L.J.
      • et al.
      The interaction between erectile dysfunction complaints and depression in men: A cross-sectional study about sleep, hormones and quality of life.
      We also observed significantly higher effect sizes for studies in which cross-tabulation analyses represented the original source of the effect size than for those in which effect sizes were determined using ORs and 95% CIs. This may be because ORs in some studies were adjusted according to patient age or other factors, making these results more credible and reliable than those determined via cross-tabulation analyses.
      • Akkus E.
      • Kadioglu A.
      • Esen A.
      • et al.
      Prevalence and correlates of erectile dysfunction in Turkey: A population-based study.
      The mechanism underlying the association between ED and depression remains to be established.
      • Huang S.S.
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      • et al.
      Newly diagnosed major depressive disorder and the risk of erectile dysfunction: A population-based cohort study in Taiwan.
      However, both behavioral and biological models have been proposed to explain the increased risk of ED in patients with depression.
      • Makhlouf A.
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      • Niederberger C.S.
      Depression and erectile dysfunction.
      The behavioral model postulates that patients with depression tend to engage in negative thought and are less confident, which results in performance anxiety that further reduces erectile function.
      • Makhlouf A.
      • Kparker A.
      • Niederberger C.S.
      Depression and erectile dysfunction.
      The biological model postulates that depression affects the hypothalamic pituitary adrenocortical (HPA) axis, leading to excess catecholamine production, which in turn, leads to poor cavernosal muscle relaxation and ED.
      • Goldstein I.
      The mutually reinforcing triad of depressive symptoms, cardiovascular disease, and erectile dysfunction.
      Moreover, most antidepressant drugs have adverse effects on erectile function.
      • Shiri R.
      • Koskimaki J.
      • Tammela T.L.J.
      • et al.
      Bidirectional relationship between depression and erectile dysfunction.
      In addition, low testosterone is a possible explanation for the exacerbation of depression by ED.
      • Chou P.S.
      • Chou W.P.
      • Chen M.C.
      • et al.
      Newly diagnosed erectile dysfunction and risk of depression: A population-based 5-year follow-up study in Taiwan.
      Previous studies have suggested that testosterone plays a key role in ED development and that low testosterone levels are associated with ED.
      • Tsujimura A.
      The relationship between testosterone deficiency and men's health.
      Furthermore, testosterone levels are lower in patients with depression than in those without depression; testosterone replacement therapy has been shown to improve depressive symptoms.
      • Chou P.S.
      • Chou W.P.
      • Chen M.C.
      • et al.
      Newly diagnosed erectile dysfunction and risk of depression: A population-based 5-year follow-up study in Taiwan.

       Strengths and Limitations

      There are several strengths to this study. First, evaluations of the association between ED and depression are timely and relevant for clinicians, policymakers, and patients. Second, we intentionally conducted 2 meta-analyses regarding the association between ED and depression, allowing us to include all potentially relevant studies and the greatest number of participants. Third, we searched manifold research databases including the Cochrane Library, which involves literature for relevant studies published through October 2017. Moreover, we conducted all aspects of the review process in duplicate, and each of our 2 meta-analyses included a large sample size. Furthermore, we used relative effect estimates to calculate absolute effect estimates, which are remarkably consistent and more useful than absolute effect estimates.
      However, the present study also possesses some limitations of note. First, there is a possibility that relevant research papers were missed (eg, those not written in English), resulting in selection bias. Second, although we searched the Cochrane Library, grey literature in other databases may have been missed. Third, although we conducted the review and extraction processes independently and in duplicate, it was still subjective and dependent on the reports of articles, rather than direct assessment of the studies. Fourth, although the ROBINS-I tool is reliable, it is associated with a risk of reviewer bias resulting from reviewer subjectivity. Besides, the methods used for the assessment of ED varied between studies. The IIEF questionnaire has been adopted as the gold standard when assessing the efficacy of treatment for ED, but other methods have a higher likelihood of misclassification bias that could lead to underestimation of the strength of the association. Furthermore, there was limited information regarding the use of medications such as antidepressants, beta-blockers, diuretics, phosphodiesterase inhibitors, testosterone, and antihypertensive agents that may have contributed to ED. In addition, although our subgroup analyses demonstrated the variability in the study design, mean age of patients, country in which the study was conducted, and other factors, the high heterogeneity among studies makes it difficult to generalize the conclusions. Moreover, we did not assess other potential sources of heterogeneity such as study duration or circumstances. Besides, we did not register the analysis on PROSPERO. Finally, the OR is a measure of association that only reveals whether an association is present. Thus, the present study was unable to determine the direction of causality between ED and depression.

       Implications

      Our study has both research-based and clinical implications for ED, as well as depression. Although our conclusions may be weakened by heterogeneity among studies, the results of our meta-analysis indicate that ED increases the risk of depression and that depression also increases the risk of ED. Therefore, to improve overall patient care, clinicians and policymakers should attend to the interrelationship between depression and ED.
      The pooled estimates calculated during our first meta-analysis suggested that exposure to depression increases the risk of ED. However, despite the large sample size and no significant reporting bias, the quality of evidence was low because of the observational design of the included studies. Thus further research is required to determine with confidence whether exposure to depression indeed increases the risk of ED. Pooled estimates calculated during our second meta-analysis indicated that exposure to ED also increases the risk of depression. The inclusion of observational studies produced a large effect size, resulting in evidence of moderate quality, suggesting that further research is likely to change the estimate. Moreover, only 6 studies were included, necessitating further studies regarding the association between depression and ED.

      Conclusion

      The findings of this study demonstrated an association between depression and ED. Patients reporting ED should be routinely screened for depression, whereas patients presenting with symptoms of depression should be routinely assessed for ED.

      Statement of authorship

        Category 1

      • (a)
        Conception and Design
        • Zhaohui Zhu, Jin Wang
      • (b)
        Acquisition of Data
        • Qian Liu, Youpeng Zhang, Jin Wang, Sen Li, Yongbiao Cheng
      • (c)
        Analysis and Interpretation of Data
        • Qian Liu, Youpeng Zhang, Jin Wang, Sen Li, Yongbiao Cheng, Jialun Guo, Hanqing Zeng, Yong Tang

        Category 2

      • (a)
        Drafting the Article
        • Qian Liu, Youpeng Zhang
      • (b)
        Revising It for Intellectual Content
        • Qian Liu, Youpeng Zhang, Jin Wang, Sen Li, Yongbiao Cheng, Jialun Guo, Hanqing Zeng, Yong Tang

        Category 3

      • (a)
        Final Approval of the Completed Article
        • Qian Liu, Youpeng Zhang, Jin Wang, Sen Li, Yongbiao Cheng, Jialun Guo, Yong Tang, Hanqing Zeng, Zhaohui Zhu

      Supplementary data

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