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Erectile Dysfunction Risk Linked to Use of Multiple Drugs: Study

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Men taking multiple drug prescriptions may face an increased risk of suffering from erectile dysfunction, according to the findings of a new study. 

Researchers from Kaiser Permanente found that men taking 10 or more drugs at once were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with erectile dysfunction than those who were not.

The study was published in the British Journal of Urology International (BJU International), examining data on 37,712 men who took part in the 2002 California Men’s Health Study and were part of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California (KPSC) health plan.

Researchers took into account other health-related factors for sexual problems and determined the increased risk was most likely due to drug side effects.

The study focused on men between 45 and 69 years of age, finding nearly 30% suffered from moderate or severe erectile dysfunction and men who were prescribed more than 10 drugs had more than double the risk of erectile dysfunction than those who were prescribed no drugs once the numbers were adjusted for age, race, smoking, diabetes, hypertension and other problems commonly associated with sexual dysfunction.

The findings indicate that the risk of erectile dysfunction was dose-specific, meaning the more medications a man was on, the more likely he was to experience problems.

Erectile dysfunction involves the inability to develop or maintain an erection during sexual intercourse, which can result from a number of different potential causes.

A number of specific medications have been linked to a risk of erectile dysfunction, most recently the popular hair-loss drug Propecia. According to a study published in March, Propecia and other drugs known as 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors were found to possibly cause loss of libido, depression erectile dysfunction, reduced semen production and growth of male breast tissue.

Although warnings provided with the medication in the United States suggest that the problems with erectile dysfunction from Propecia typically resolve once the medication is discontinued, a growing number of men have reported experiencing permanent problems that persist even after Propecia is no longer used.

In recent months, a growing number of men have filed a Propecia lawsuit against Merck after experiencing sexual side effects, alleging that Merck failed to provide adequate warnings about the permanent nature of these problems to consumers in the United States.

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