Erectile dysfunction is something that a lot of men deal with, and is truly a big problem. Not only does it cause the man himself to feel inferior and self-conscious, it can often put a strain on the relationship with his wife or girlfriend, as well. Because of this, men try to avoid all the causes of erectile dysfunction at all costs. Unfortunately, as more research is done, more things are being tied to erectile dysfunction. The newest of these stories, which was released in the May 15th medical journal entitled Spine, suggests that long term painkiller use has a very interesting relationship with erectile dysfunction.
Researchers first came up with their hypothesis after noticing that men with chronic pain (specifically back pain) seemed to deal with erectile dysfunction a lot more than those that didn’t have chronic pain. Instead of blaming the pain for the problem, though, the researchers dug a little deeper. They started digging through records to learn that men who were taking prescription painkillers also seemed to be taking erectile dysfunction medication, as well. Out of 11,237 men taking high-dose opioids for back pain in the Washington and Oregon areas, 19% were prescribed testosterone replacement or erectile dysfunction treatment after four months of being on the painkillers, as opposed to the 7% who were taking ED medication but not painkillers. 12% of men taking low-dose opioids were prescribed ED meds after four months.
There are of course other factors that play into erectile dysfunction, and the researchers looked at these as well. They found that men over 60 were considerably more likely to have ED, as were men suffering from depression. In addition, sleeping pills were also linked to ED. Still, though, after removing these factors from the equation, the researchers found that men who were taking high-dose opioids were fifty percent more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction than those who were not taking the pain meds.
The researchers were adamant in saying that these figures do not prove that ED is caused by painkillers, but that the evidence should be taken into account when considering if you want to take high-dose opioids for any pain that you may be experiencing. Painkillers, particularly high-dose opioids, are being used more widely today than they ever have been in the past, with sales quadrupling just between 1999 and 2010. High-dose opioids can be dangerous for other reasons, too. They are addictive, they reduce hormone production, they can cause sleep apnea and they are easy to fatally overdose on. Now added to that list is (possibly) erectile dysfunction. This is certainly something to take into consideration the next time that the doctor wants to prescribe these powerful painkillers to you.
Image Credit: Divine Harvester