Surprise! This Could Cause Erectile Dysfunction

Men who have long enjoyed a normal sex life may be unpleasantly surprised when sex suddenly gets a lot less sexy. An estimated 30 million men suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED) which is the inability to maintain an erection.

In the great majority of these cases, ED is temporary and often caused by an underlying problem such as artherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), diabetes and other vascular problems. But ED may also  the result of little-known side effects of many common prescription and over-the-counter medications (OTC).  

Some unlikely culprits include propecia (a prescription drug for baldness) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs often found in OTC cold medicines and allergy remedies as well as ibuprofen and naproxen (Aleve) taken for pain relief.

One Finnish Study published in the May 2009 Journal of Urology linked ED to NSAIDs giving many men reason to pause. The study of more than 1,100 Finnish men between the ages of 50 and 70 found that ED was significantly higher among NSAID users than non-users. Arthritis pain relief was cited as the most common reason for using these drugs. (Note: ED is known to occur more frequently among arthritis sufferers, even those who don't take NSAIDs.)

Other common medications that can lead to ED include diuretics, antihistamines, Parkinson's disease medications, sedatives, muscle relaxants, certain cardiac medications, hormones, certain cancer drugs, chemotherapy medications, certain anti-seizure medications and drugs used to treat high blood pressure and depression.

Overweight men are at increased risk of developing ED as well as men who abuse illegal drugs and alcohol. In many cases, ED is the result of stress and relationship conflict.

If you are experiencing ED and believe it's being caused by a medication you are using, don't stop taking the drug. Contact your doctor or pharmacist who make be able to prescribe something else. Or, get a referral to a urologist who is a specially-trained doctor in problems associated with male sex organs.

Treatment Options for Persistent ED

There are many myths surrounding ED and its causes. One is that ED is an unavoidable consequence of aging. ED is never normal-regardless of age. Wearing tight underwear also does not cause ED (though it may contribute to a low sperm count).

Because ED is such a common problem, there are many treatment options with a high rate of success for sufferers. Most doctors will prescribe an oral medication as a first step. Drugs like Viagra (sildenifil), Cialis (tadalifil), and Levitra (vardenafil) are well known and have helped millions of men. These medications allow erections to occur by increasing blood flow, but a degree of sexual stimulation is required for them to work.

Therapy, penile injections, and penile implant surgery are other options. Penile implant surgery involves the insertion of two fluid-filled penile cylinders and a manually-operated scrotum pump.

Be prepared to be bombarded with tons of information about nutritional supplements, herbal remedies and other non-medical treatment options including acupuncture if you decide to research the problem online. However, the best place to start is your doctor's office.

Glickman Urological Institute at the Cleveland Clinic

AmericanAcademy of Family Physicians" (July 2003)

American Urological Association