Erectile dysfunction medications and youth
A new study indicates a high prevalence of erectile dysfunction (ED) and evidence of recreational use of erectile dysfunction medications (EDM) among adolescents and young men.
Researchers at Children’s Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine conducted an anonymous survey of 234 sexually active males between the ages of 18-25 on the campuses of three national universities in Chicago. This survey � � � � � � � �” the first of its kind � � � � � � � �” found that a significant number of surveyed young men had used erectile dysfunction medications (EDM) such as Viagra� � � � � � � � � – many in conjunction with other recreational drugs, and most without consulting their physician.
Often associated with sexual dissatisfaction, decreased quality of life, depression and anxiety,� � erectile dysfunction has rarely been studied in adolescent males. This first study to gauge ED occurring with condom use (EDwC) indicates that men who have experienced ED while putting on a condom are four times more likely to use condoms inconsistently.
13%� � of the respondents reported erectile dysfunction, defined as “ever had difficulty getting or keeping an erection,” but rarely discussed this with their medical providers.� � 25% reported� � erectile dysfunction occurring with condom use. “Our exploratory study examines the prevalence and correlates of ED, EDwC and EDM use in a community-based sample of college-age males,” said Najah Musacchio, MD, fellow in General Academic Pediatrics and lead investigator. “Participants with EDwC were 4 times more likely to use condoms inconsistently, and 5 times more likely to have multiple sex partners in the last year, suggesting that EDwC may represent a barrier to safer sex and play a role in STI transmission,” said Robert Garofalo, Director of Adolescent HIV Services.
A total of 302 college-age males completed a self-administered survey. Oral consent was obtained before survey administration. Sixty-eight participants (23%) reported no anal/vaginal sex in the past year and were excluded from analysis. Participants were predominantly white (66%), ages 18-20 (64%) and heterosexual (95%). Most (83%) had one to five sexual partners in the past year and 47% reported 100% condom use for anal/vaginal sex. Six participants (3%) had a prior STI, five of whom were men who have sex with men (MSM).
6%� � of surveyed men used erectile dysfunction medications.� � 57% of participants who took EDM used them to treat erectile dysfunction; 29% used them to enhance sexual performance.� � 64% percent of� � erectile dysfunction medications users mixed EDM with alcohol or illicit drugs; 36% with multiple other drugs. “Particularly concerning is mixing Viagra� � � � � � � and other EDM with alcohol and drugs, such as ecstasy or methamphetamine,” said Musacchio. “Such drugs boost sex drive and reduce inhibitions, yet impair sexual performance.� � erectile dysfunction medication use may permit men in altered mental and physical states to engage in unsafe sexual behaviors, creating concern for unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STI).”
Survey participants rarely obtained their� � erectile dysfunction medication from a medical provider: most (54%) got EDM from their friends or other non-medical sources (39%) such as the Internet.
In studies with adult men who have sex with men (MSM), Viagra� � � � � � � use has similarly been associated with risky sex (increased number of sex partners, higher rates of STIs, and unprotected sex with HIV-positive partners). “Although small in number, the young MSM in our sample reported disproportionate� � erectile dysfunction medication use and STIs, possibly warranting exploration of these issues in this adolescent subpopulation,” said Musacchio.
Survey findings suggest that� � erectile dysfunction and EDwC occur with some frequency in adolescents, and that these issues are rarely discussed with medical providers. Given the association between ED and negative health outcomes such as depression and sexual dissatisfaction, medical providers should ask adolescent males about ED and counsel them on potential health risks of� � erectile dysfunction medication and substance use, they advised. Providers should specifically inquire about EDwC, stressing the importance of using condoms with all sexual encounters.
“The topic must be addressed,” Musacchio said. “Data indicates that ED and� � erectile dysfunction medications use is not uncommon in young males. It should be openly discussed in the medical community and between provider and patient � � � � � � � �” especially since it can lead to unsafe sex and other health risks.”