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ED and Medication Use

A man’s likelihood of developing erectile dysfunction (ED) increases with the number of medications he takes, according to researchers from Kaiser Permanente. Their study was published in the November 15, 2011 online edition of British Journal of Urology International.

This outcome prevailed even when other factors associated with ED - such as age, weight, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure - were taken into account.

The researchers also found that the severity of ED increases with the number of medications taken.

Erectile dysfunction occurs when a man is unable to have or maintain an erection needed for satisfactory sex. Some causes of ED are thyroid disease, coronary artery disease, depression, atherosclerosis, and surgical procedures. In many cases, underlying medical conditions decrease the amount of nitric oxide produced. Nitric oxide is a key neurotransmitter for getting and keeping an erection.

Over 37,000 men between the ages of 45 to 69 from Southern California were surveyed for the study. All were participants in the California Men’s Health Study and they came from various ethnic backgrounds.

In addition to the surveys, researchers looked at the men’s electronic pharmacy records between 2002 and 2003 to determine how many medications they were taking.

29% of the men said they had moderate or severe ED. Of this group:

·         15.9% took 0-2 medications.

·         19.7% took 3-5 medications.

·         25.5% took 6-9 medications.

·         30.9% took 10 or more medications.

Over half the men took more than 3 medications. The number of medications taken tended to increase as the men got older.

The most common medications connected to ED include:

·         Antihypertensives (beta blockers, thiazides, and clonidine)

·         Psychogenic medications (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs, tricyclic antidepressants, lithium, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors

·         Medications that interfere with testosterone pathways.

In a press release, lead study author Diana C. Londoño, MD commented, “Clinically, the findings from this study suggest that a crucial step in the evaluation of ED would be to review the current medications the patient is taking and their potential side effects. When appropriate, decreases or changes in the amount of or type of medication should be considered.”

“This study highlights that while physicians still need to treat patients with medications when indicated, they should be aware that erectile dysfunction may occur,” stated Michael Kanter, medical director of Quality & Clinical Analysis for Kaiser Permanente Southern California, according to the press release.