NFL has been facing issues for years involving former players who sustained head injuries during their time in the professional league. Now, another serious medical problem has been linked to the sport. Researchers from Harvard found that head trauma in former NFL players could contribute to erectile dysfunction. The findings come from the analysis of the health of over 3,400 former professional football players.
Nearly 23 percent of the participants experienced erectile dysfunction, while 18 percent had low testosterone. Another 10 percent had both health problems.
The study, published in JAMA Neurology, is part of the Harvard University’s Football Players Health Study.
“We found the same association of concussions with ED among both younger and older men in the study, and we found the same risk of ED among men who had last played 20 years ago,” Andrea Roberts, senior study author, said. “These findings suggest that increased risk of ED following head injury may occur at relatively young ages and may linger for decades thereafter.”
Researchers said the players who had higher concussion symptoms appeared two times more likely to have erectile dysfunction, CNBC reported Monday. However, those who experienced fewer concussion symptoms still appeared with a higher risk for low testosterone.
Head trauma potentially damaged their brain’s pituitary gland, which could trigger hormonal changes in the body, the study suggested. These changes can lead to a decrease in the production of testosterone and erectile dysfunction.
“I think it’s strong evidence that there is a real biologically probable link between head injury during play and erectile dysfunction and low testosterone,” Rachel Grashow, lead study author, said.
But the researchers noted their study relied on self-reported concussion symptoms. The team did not determine the direct link between the sex problems and head trauma in former NFL players.
But similar findings were issued over the past years. Earlier studies found that military veterans and civilians who had head injuries may also have an increased risk of erectile dysfunction.
Meanwhile, some former NFL players continued to raise concerns about the head injuries they sustained during their professional time. They also questioned the lack of support from the league for their medical needs.