Long-Term Use Of Prescription Painkillers Linked To Erectile Dysfunction

An opioid is any psychoactive chemical that resembles morphine in its pharmacological, analgesic effects. Opioids are used to decrease the perception of pain, the reaction to pain; temporarily aiding in tolerance by binding to associated receptors primarily in the central and peripheral nervous systems.

News Medical reports the misuse or prolonged administration of opioid painkillers like hydrocodone and oxycodone can have several side effects: sedation, respiratory depression, constipation, and a strong sense of euphoria. Dependence – an addiction – can develop over time, which is detected upon an abrupt discontinuation of medication.

A Kaiser Permanente study, lead and authored by Dr. Richard A. Deyo – an investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research and Professor of Evidence-based Family Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University – suggests there is also a link between prescription painkillers and a higher occurrence of erectile dysfunction (ED).

Researchers used electronic health records to document a link between prescription opioid use and ED prescriptions.

The medical records of more than 11,000 men with back pain were examined to find out if men taking prescription painkillers were more likely to also receive prescriptions for testosterone replacement or ED medications.

Science Daily explains how the drug-use was classified for the purposes of this study. Opioid use was categorized as none for men who did not receive a prescription; acute for men who took opioids for three months or less; episodic for men who took opioids for more than three months, but less than four months and with fewer than 10 refills; and long-term for men who took opioids for at least four months or for more than three months with 10 or more refills.

Anything more than 120 mg of morphine equivalent was categorized as high-dose use.

They found more than 19 percent of men who took high-dose opioids for at least four months also received ED prescriptions or testosterone replacement, while fewer than 7 percent of men who did not take opioids received ED prescriptions. Twelve percent of men who took low-dose opioids (under 120 mg) for at least four months also received ED medications or testosterone replacement.

Men over 60 are 14 times more likely to receive ED prescriptions than men 18 to 29, but even after researchers adjusted for age and other factors, men taking high-dose opioids were still 50 percent more likely to receive ED prescriptions than men who did not take prescription painkillers, reports Live Science.

The study was published in the journal Spine.

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