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Opioids, erectile dysfunction linked

Men on high doses of prescription painkillers are more likely to experience ED, according to new research.

Man in bed looking at pills

Next time your man has a backache, tell him to try to tough it out.

According to a new study published in Spine, taking high doses of prescription pain pills over long durations of time can drive erectile dysfunction (ED).

Researchers looked at health records of 11,000 men who were taking prescription opioids (such as oxycodone) to alleviate back pain. Those who took high doses of the meds for more than four months were 50 percent more likely to need ED meds compared with those who did not take painkillers.

“Opioid use and erectile dysfunction seem to go together, but we have to be cautious about saying one causes the other,” said Dr. Richard Deyo of the Kaiser Permanante Center for Health Research at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Oregon.

What exactly is a high dose, you may ask? Anything equal to 80 milligrams of OxyContin daily or 120 milligrams of morphine.

Researchers noted that opioids are known to cause changes in testosterone levels.

The scientists say the number of men who experienced ED may be higher than the 19 percent found to be taking opioids and experiencing ED.

“That could well be an underestimate, because many don’t bring it to their doctor’s attention, would be embarrassed or wouldn’t connect it to medication,” Deyo said.

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