The role of a laughter in the management of erectile dysfunction

Emobileclinic Researchers Corner



One of the causes of male infertility is erectile dysfunction which is in fact a leading hormonal disorder in men. Many are unaware of the health benefit of laughing let alone being aware of its role in the management of erectile dysfunction in men. There exists a direct link between erection and the status the arteries.This submission was made by researchers at the School of Medicine, University of Maryland, Baltimore, using laughter-provoking movies to gauge the effect of emotions on cardiovascular health.


As a pioneer study, it was uncovered that laughter is linked to healthy function of blood vessels. The dilation and expansion of the inner lining tissue of the blood vessels, which is endothelium is greatly control and influence by laughter. It is interesting to know that the expansion of blood vessels encourages the flow of blood throughout the body, including the blood flow which reaches the penis and stimulates erection. However, watching sad or stressful movies produces the opposite effect as the same group of study volunteers was shown a movie that produced mental stress; their blood vessel lining developed a potentially unhealthy response called vasoconstriction, reducing blood flow.

This recent finding validates earlier studies, which suggested there was a link between mental stress and the narrowing of blood vessels. The results of the study, conducted at the University of Maryland Medical Center, were presented at the Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology on March 7, 2005, in Orlando, Florida. The effect of endothelium on blood vessel tone is significant ranging from regulation of blood flow, thickening of blood, moderation of blood coagulation, secretion of chemicals and other substances in response to wounds, infections or irritation to the development of cardiovascular diseases.

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According to Michael Miller, the endothelium is the first line in the development of atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, he added that in line with their study, they are of the opinion that laughing may be important to maintain a healthy endothelium, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. He further opined that, laughter at least offsets the impact of mental stress, which is harmful to the endothelium.

The study focused on a group of 20 non-smoking, healthy volunteers, equally divided between men and women, whose average age was 33. The participants had normal blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Each volunteer was shown part of two movies at the extreme ends of the emotional spectrum. They were randomized to first watch either a movie that would cause mental stress, such as the opening scene of “SavingPrivate Ryan” (DreamWorks, 1998), or a segment of a movie that would cause laughter, such as “King Pin” (MGM, 1996). A minimum of 48 hours later, they were shown a movie intended to produce the opposite emotional extreme. Before watching the movie, the volunteers fasted overnight and were given a baseline blood vessel reactivity test to measure what is known as flow-mediated vasodilation.

For that test, blood flow in the brachial artery in the arm was restricted by a blood pressure cuff and released. An ultrasound device then measured how well the blood vessel responded to the sudden increase in flow. The Volunteers watched a 15-minute segment of the movie while lying down in a temperature-controlled room. After the movie was shown, the brachial artery was constricted for five minutes and then released. Again, ultrasound images were acquired. Changes in blood vessel reactivity after the volunteers watched a movie lasted for at least 30 to 45 minutes. A total of 160 blood vessel measurements were performed before and after the laughter and mental stress phases of the study.

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It was discovered that there were no differences in the baseline measurements of blood vessel dilation in either the mental stress or laughter phases. But there were striking contrasts after the movies were seen. Brachial artery flow was reduced in 14 of the 20 volunteers following the movie clips that caused mental stress. In contrast, beneficial blood vessel relaxation or vasodilation was increased in 19 of the 20 volunteers after they watched the movie segments that generated laughter.

Overall, average blood flow increased 22 percent during laughter, and decreased 35 percent during mental stress. A number of volunteers had already seen “Saving Private Ryan,” according to Miller, inspite of this; some of them were among the 14 with reduced blood flow. “The magnitude of change we saw in the endothelium is similar to the benefit we might see with aerobic activity, but without the aches, pains and muscle tension associated with exercise,” says Dr. Miller. “We don’t recommend that you laugh and not exercise, but we do recommend that you try to laugh on a regular basis. Thirty minutes of exercise three times a week, and 15 minutes of laughter on a daily basis is probably good for the vascular system.”

Dr. Miller says this study was not able to determine the source of laughter’s benefit. “Does it come from the movement of the diaphragm muscles as you chuckle or guffaw, or does it come from a chemical release triggered by laughter, such as endorphins?” he asks. Dr. Miller says a compound called nitric oxide is known to play a role in the dilation of the endothelium. “Perhaps mental stress leads to a breakdown in nitric oxide or inhibits a stimulus to produce nitric oxide that results in vasoconstriction,” says Dr. Miller.

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