Sexually Transmitted Diseases Among Men Who Use Erectile Dysfunction Drugs. Ann Intern Med. 2010;153:I-44. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-153-1-201007060-00001
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2010;153(1):I-44.
Erectile dysfunction (ED), or impotence, is an inability to get or keep an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. Causes can be psychological or physical. Physical causes include advanced age, heavy drinking, chronic diseases (such as diabetes or high blood pressure), hormonal abnormalities (such as low testosterone levels), and use of some drugs (such as some treatments for high blood pressure or depression). Phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors are drugs available to treat ED. Commonly prescribed ED drugs include sildenafil (known by the brand name Viagra [Pfizer, New York, New York]), vardenafil (known by the brand name Levitra [GlaxoSmithKline, Brentford, United Kingdom]), and tadalafil (known by the brand name Cialis [Lilly, Indianapolis, Indiana]). Because up to 40% of middle-aged and older men have some degree of ED, drugs for this condition are commonly used. Risks for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) may accompany the increased sexual activity that these drugs enable. Sexually transmitted diseases include infections with viruses or bacteria, such as HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, or syphilis. Little is known about the risk for STDs in men who use ED drugs.
To find out about the frequency of STDs in men who use ED drugs.
33 968 men with at least 1 prescription for an ED drug and more than 1 million men without a prescription. All of the study participants had private insurance from 44 large companies from 1997 to 2006.
The researchers used information in a billing database to determine the frequency of STDs in men with and without a prescription for an ED drug. They looked at billing codes for STDs in the year before and after a man received the first prescription for an ED drug.
This comparison of STDs in men who did and did not have a new prescription for an ED drug from 1997 to 2006 found that both in the year before and after drug initiation, men with a prescription had higher rates of STDs than those with no prescription. The STDs that accounted for these differences were infections with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) and chlamydia, an infection that can lead to infertility in women.
This study used billing data and could not describe all of the ways in which men who use ED drugs may differ from men who do not. This study does not mean that ED drugs cause STDs.
When prescriptions for ED drugs are being considered, doctors and patients should discuss the risk for STDs and ways to prevent getting these diseases and transmitting them to others.
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Infectious Disease, Sexually Transmitted Infections.
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