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Can Genetic Testing Reveal ED Risk?

With the popularity of at-home genetic tests, some men wonder if a simple test can reveal the risk of ED. Is ED genetic or related to lifestyle factors? Are there any markers indicating ED risk?

Rising Popularity of Genetic Testing

Imagine being able to learn more about your ancestors. Imagine learning about potential health risks, so you can prevent a life-threatening illness from developing.

This is a promise of companies selling at-home genetic tests. With a simple collection of saliva from your mouth, you get access to the mysteries of your DNA. All at an affordable price.

According to MIT Technology Review, in 2018 alone some 26 million people bought at-home genetic testing kits. But what can these tests really do for you?

At-home genetic tests require a saliva sample

At-home genetic tests require a saliva sample

Is Erectile Dysfunction (ED) Genetic or Lifestyle-Related?

Many people use at-home genetic tests to see if they are at a higher risk of certain conditions, such as breast cancer. But what about erectile dysfunction?

To answer this question, we first need to understand the causes of ED. These range from physical to psychological. ED can be also be a result of unhealthy lifestyle (and related obesity, for example). In some cases, it is a side effect of medication.

Scientists have been trying to find genetic risk factors for ED. No one has been successful so far. However, in 2018 a team of researchers announced they have found a “specific genetic cause” for the condition. In lay terms, it means they have found a place in our genome associated with higher chances of getting ED.

Can Genetic Tests Reveal ED Risk?

Since we now have proof that ED has a genetic component, at least in some men, we should be able to make a simple test, right? Unfortunately, not (or at least, not yet).

At-home genetic tests do not go into such detail when analyzing our genome. The ones currently available on the market do not test for ED risk. It may take some time until this detailed analysis is available.

Are at-home genetic tests useless in the context of ED then? Not exactly. Some providers check for the risk of cardiomyopathy (heart problems) or high cholesterol. These are known factors, associated with erectile difficulties.  Realizing you have a higher chance of developing these conditions may be the motivation you need to get medical check-ups and make healthier lifestyle choices. But can you trust the results of those testing kits?

Knowing you are at risk may motivate you to make healthier lifestyle choices

Knowing you are at risk may motivate you to make healthier lifestyle choices

Is At-Home Genetic Testing Reliable?

A 2019 publication by scientists from the University of Exeter called for caution on the reliability of at-home genetic testing. Analysis of real-life cases from the United Kingdom revealed that the tests often resulted in false positive or false negative results.

What does that mean? You may receive inaccurate information, saying you have a dangerous gene mutation. You may also feel falsely reassured that you are not at risk when, in fact, you are.

If you really want to get an in-depth look at your health, based on your DNA, you might want to consider a lab test. These are more expensive but can save you a lot of stress in the end. If an at-home kit reveals something worrying, get a second opinion from a doctor and do more screening as needed.

Knowledge is Power

Ordering a test online and learning more about your DNA has never been easier and more affordable. Although we cannot fully rely on those results, they could be your first step to better health. Knowing you may be in the risk group for some conditions could encourage you to change your diet or start a fitness routine.

As your health improves, your risk of developing ED will drop. And what if you already have the symptoms of erectile dysfunction? Do not hesitate to talk to your doctor and get treatment. Pills such as Viagra are a safe option for most men and help you get back to a satisfying intimate life right away. Click here to order ED medication from the comfort of your own home.

Anka Grzywacz is a sexologist, reproductive health expert and Certified Sex Coach™. In her online practice she helps busy parents solve their intimate problems.