Men who regularly take prescription painkillers have an increased risk of developing erectile dysfunction, according to a new study.
Researchers found that regularly taking opioids, including codeine, increased a man’s risk of the condition.
The study, published in the journal Spine, revealed that 19 per cent of men who took high-dose opioids for at least four months developed ED.
In comparison, seven per cent of men who do not take opioids suffer from ED.
Therefore, people taking opioids are more than 50 per cent more likely to develop ED than those who are not taking the medication.
The most commonly used prescription opioids are hydrocodone, oxycodone, and morphine.
The study of 11,000 men with back pain also showed that men over the age of 60 are much more likely to develop ED than younger men are.
‘Men who take opioid pain medications for an extended period of time have the highest risk of ED,’ said lead author Richard Deyo, investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Centre for Health Research and Professor of Evidence-based Family Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University.
He added: ‘This doesn't mean that these medications cause ED, but the association is something patients and clinicians should be aware of when deciding if opioids should be used to treat back pain.
‘There is no question that for some patients opioid use is appropriate, but there is also increasing evidence that long-term use can lead to addiction, fatal overdoses, sleep apnea, falls in the elderly, reduced hormone production, and now erectile dysfunction.’
More than 12 per cent of the men studied who took low-dose opioids (under 120 mg) for at least four months had ED.
Researchers found that age was the factor most significantly associated with receiving ED prescriptions.
Men aged between 60 and 69 were 14 times more likely to receive prescriptions for ED medication than men aged 18 to 29.
Depression and use of sedative hypnotics like benzodiazepines also increased the likelihood that a man would develop ED.