Gallbladder stone disease—or gallstones—is a condition that affects 10% to 15% of the US population according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. That is the equivalent of 25 million people.
It’s something that people have to look out for as they grow older, especially those with a family history of gallstones as they are at a higher risk of getting it.
While gallbladder stone disease tends to cause a considerable amount of pain, most cases do not cause any symptoms—meaning they’d have asymptomatic gallbladder stone disease—and wouldn’t require any treatment. However, there is data to suggest that gallstones can be linked to erectile dysfunction (ED).
Today, let’s talk about what gallstones are, how they can affect you, and their link to ED.
What Are Gallstones?
Gallstones are deposits of hardened digestive fluid that resemble small stones of varying sizes.
These develop inside your gallbladder and are made up of either cholesterol or pigment stones (bilirubin).
These stones can travel from the gallbladder to the common bile duct, which is the largest duct in the liver.
Those who get larger stones (they can grow to the size of a golf ball) will never experience any discomfort nor show symptoms. There’s a good chance they won’t even know they have gallstones. In cases like this, there won’t be any need for treatment.
But when smaller gallstones make their way to the common bile duct, that can lead to a medical emergency. These can cause cholangitis, pancreatitis, or other conditions. In extreme cases, surgery will be required to fix the issue though there are less invasive means available.
What Are the Symptoms of Gallstones?
Most people who have gallstones won’t feel any of the symptoms. But when they do, they’ll experience any (or a combination of) the following:
- Pain in the upper-mid or upper-right of the abdomen
- Pain in the right shoulder
- Pain in the chest
- Vomiting or nausea
- Yellow tint in the skin and eyes (jaundice)
As far as pain is concerned, it can last anywhere between 15 minutes to five hours. The pain can be severe but it will subside in one to three hours.
Do note that while the pain could be excruciating, it will often not put you in a medical emergency.
According to AAFP, asymptomatic patients have a low annual rate of developing gallstone symptoms. The chances of getting symptoms for asymptomatic patients is only 2%.
However, you should seek professional help if:
- The pain is so severe that you’re unable to sit still or lie down comfortably
- If your skin and the whites of your eyes have a yellow tint
- If you’re experiencing a fever with chills
What Causes Gallbladder Stone Disease?
Several established risks contribute to gallbladder stone disease development.
One of them is having too much cholesterol in the bile ducts. Another is having too much bilirubin—a chemical produced by the body—in your bile. And you can also experience gallstones if your gallbladder does not empty correctly.
Some people have a higher probability of developing gallstones. Those with specific conditions like diabetes and Crohn’s disease can get a gallbladder stone disease diagnosis. So can people that are overweight or eat a diet that’s high in cholesterol and fat.
Women are also more likely to suffer from gallstones. Those who are taking oral contraceptives are also at a higher risk. People with certain blood disorders are just as susceptible.
While gallstones occur worldwide, it’s most common among North American Indians and Hispanics. It’s low in Asian and African populations.
Can Gallbladder Problems Cause Erectile Dysfunction?
A study from the American Journal of Men’s Health shows that there might be a link between gallbladder stone disease and erectile dysfunction. In the study, researchers identified 9,362 men aged 20 years old or older that were diagnosed with the disorder between 2000 and 2011.
They then gathered the same number of men who had no gallbladder stone disease, trying to match subjects on a 1:1 level including age and date that the subject was diagnosed with gallbladder disease.
The objective of the study was to see if these subjects start developing organic erectile dysfunction and measure the incidence of erectile dysfunction. It wanted to see the gallbladder stones-erectile dysfunction connection if any.
The study lasted until December of 2011.
It concluded that the risk for organic erectile dysfunction was higher for those that had gallbladder stone disease versus those that didn’t have it.
Can Stomach Problems Cause Erectile Dysfunction?
If you suspect that you have gallstones and want to be reassured that it’s not going to affect your sexual health, you should consult a doctor.
The same goes for those that already suffer from ED and want to get to the root cause.
There are plenty of factors that could contribute to erectile dysfunction. People with diabetes can develop gallstones, but it could also affect your erections for completely different reasons.
Your diet can also cause gallstone disease and erectile dysfunction. A doctor could give you guidance on what kind of diet you should follow to avoid weight gain, which may help to avoid getting both complications.
Sometimes, ED can be caused by conditions that are not even remotely related to gallstones such as having low libido. It can also come from other organic and psychogenic factors as well as common chronic diseases.
The point is that to be sure of what’s causing your erectile dysfunction incidence or other acute critical illness, you’ll have to find a doctor that can explain to you what’s causing your issue.
Is Erectile Dysfunction a Permanent Problem?
It doesn’t have to be. There are treatments available for this problem. If organic erectile dysfunction contributed to your unhappiness, there are solutions out there.
Regardless of whether your erectile dysfunction was caused by gallstones or not, the treatments generally remain the same.
But we should point out that not all ED treatments are suitable for everyone. A medical professional will recommend a treatment that’s best suited for you. It could be as simple as customizing a healthy living program or developing a weight loss treatment that’s just right for your needs.
Or for more serious organic erectile dysfunction development, a doctor might recommend a specific type of therapy to alleviate its prevalence and risk factors.
Takeaways for Men Facing Gallbladder Stone Disease and Erectile Dysfunction
Even if you have gallstones, there’s a low chance that you’ll feel it. And there’s a good chance that it will pass on its own.
But if you believe that your gallstone issues are causing you to develop erectile dysfunction, then you should consult with a doctor right away.
This disease doesn’t always cause erectile dysfunction symptoms. But there’s a good chance that there are other underlying factors that you have to be aware of, otherwise the risk of erectile dysfunction may increase. And that might lead to you not getting sufficient penile erection or maintaining sufficient penile erection.
Only a doctor will be able to tell what’s causing your ED, identify well-recognized risk factors, perform examinations like blood tests, and recommend the appropriate sexual health treatment options.
If you’re having issues with erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation, call the team at Prime Men’s Medical Center now to schedule an appointment to have a consultation with their experienced and specially trained medical staff. We are Jacksonville’s leading men’s clinic providing ED therapy, PE therapy, Acoustic Wave therapy, hormone therapy, and much more.