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Aspirin and ED

Apr 13, 2011

There appears to be an association between the use of aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and erectile dysfunction (ED), according to research published in February by The Journal of Urology.

Common NSAIDs are ibuprofen, naproxen, and indomethacin.  Erectile dysfunction prevents a man from having an erection firm enough for satisfactory sex.

The study, conducted by researchers at Kaiser Permanente, involved a group of 80,966 men between the ages of 45 and 69. They all lived in California and were members of Kaiser Permanente managed care plans.

To find out more about their ED experiences and the drugs they were taking, researchers used questionnaires, self-reported data, and automated pharmacy records.

Forty-seven percent of the men used NSAIDs and 29% said they had moderate or severe ED. Both NSAID use and ED occurrence increased with age. Thirty-five percent of men in the 45 to 49 age group used NSAIDs, but that percentage increased to 55% in the 60 to 69 age group. Erectile dysfunction also increased: 13% of men in the 45 to 49 age group reported ED; 42% in the 60 to 69 age group did.

Researchers found that men who took NSAIDs three times a day for more than three months were 2.4 times more likely to have ED when compared to non-regular NSAID users.

Even after other factors (including age, race, ethnicity, body mass index, smoking status and the presence of health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease) were taken into account, the regular NSAID users were 1.4 times more likely to have ED than non-regular NSAID users in all age groups.

These results came as a bit of a surprise. Previous studies had suggested an association between erectile dysfunction and inflammation. Since NSAIDs help decrease inflammation, researchers expected to see less instances of ED.

However, men should still take NSAIDs as prescribed by their doctor. “There are many proven benefits of non-steroidals in preventing heart disease and for other conditions. People shouldn’t stop taking them based on this observational study,” said Dr. Steven J. Jacobsen, MD, PhD, the study’s senior author and an epidemiologist and director of research with Kaiser Permanente Southern California.

“However, if a man is taking this class of drugs and has ED, it’s worth a discussion with his doctor,” he added.