Benzodiazepines and erectile dysfunction

Medicines that promote erectile dysfunction, impotence

Tranquilizers known as benzodiazepines and certain older antidepressants are linked with a greater chance of having erectile dysfunction (ED) or impotence, according to a new survey.

"Definitely it confirms the tricyclics (antidepressants)" are tied to ED, said Dr. Richard Balon, a psychiatry professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine.

Contrary to some other studies, however, the research did not find any increased risk of ED among men taking blood-pressure medications.

"I don't know what to make of this, " said Balon, who was not part of the study.

Certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, are risk factors for impotence.

Previous research has suggested that medications themselves, especially when a man is taking several different prescription drugs, are tied to a greater risk for erectile dysfunction.

To see how that relationship shakes out with individual medication types, a research team led by Varant Kupelian at New England Research Institutes in Watertown, Massachusetts, surveyed 2, 301 men about their prescription drug use and their sexual function.

Erectile dysfunction was defined as scoring 17 or below on the 25-point scale of a self-assessment of erection firmness, reliability and satisfaction.

The researchers found that about one in five of the men surveyed had ED.

Among 60 men who had taken a tricyclic antidepressant in the last month, nearly half also qualified as having ED.

In contrast, one quarter of the men who had not taken a tricyclic had ED.

Popular tricyclic antidepressants include amitryptyline, and the brand name drugs Anafranil, Tofranil and Vivactil.

After taking into account risk factors for ED, such as age and heart disease, the researchers determined that men on these drugs had a more than three-fold greater risk of experiencing ED.

Men taking benzodiazepines such as Valium, Xanax, Klonopin and Ativan, often used to treat anxiety, were also more than two times as likely to have ED.

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