Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is the inability to maintain an erection. Occasional erection problems are not necessarily a cause for concern, but if erectile dysfunction is systematic, it can cause stress, strengthen low self-esteem and damage a man’s interpersonal relationships. Last but not least, a systematic inability to maintain an erection by itself may be a consequence of a condition requiring treatment (for example, cardiovascular diseases).
Male sexual arousal is often discredited as a simple and primitive process, but in fact, it is caused by a combination of brain signals, hormonal reactions, emotional states, muscle reactions, and blood vessel function. Speaking about erectile problems, scientists try to focus on a combination of these factors in order to proceed to appropriate therapy. On the contrary, genetic factors are mentioned relatively rarely.
However, for the first time, a group of researchers managed to identify a specific place in the human genome that increases the risk of erectile dysfunction. The discovery is a significant step forward in understanding the genetics underlying this distinctly male problem. In particular, the study showed that the problem, if not due to other risk factors such as body mass index, is most likely due to variations in the genetic locus next to the SIM1 gene.
It is important to note that the variations are not localized exactly in SIM1, but the neighboring genetic locus plays a crucial role in the regulation of this gene, whose biological function is associated, on the one hand, with sexual reproduction, and on the other, with weight regulation. . Until recently, it was believed that 1/3 of erection problems actually have a genetic basis, but scientists’ knowledge was limited to this. A new study is likely to lead to a good quality of life not only for men but also for their partners who suffer from this condition in silence.