Erectile Dysfunction (ED) drugs, like Viagra, have recently been linked to higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Recent research on link between ED meds and STDs
Research at Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Southern California indicates that men who take drugs to treat ED engage in risky behavior that have caused a marked increase in the rates of STDs among middle aged and older men. The study was based on findings from a group of 1.4 million men.
According to research middle aged and older men taking ED meds are 2 to 3 times more likely to contract an STD. The research also shows that the men are most likely to contract HIV/AIDS, with Chlamydia being the second most frequently contracted STD.
Why do men on ED meds have increased risk of STDs
Researchers are clear that the cause of the increase in STDs is not ED medication. It is unsafe sex practiced by men being treated for erectile dysfunction that leads STDs. There was no distinction between homosexual, bisexual, and heterosexual males. The number of sexual partners, sexual practices, and frequency of sex was also unknown.
What the research indicates is that risky behavior precedes treatment for ED.
Interestingly, the likelihood of contracting an STD showed an increase in the year prior to the men receiving a prescription for erectile dysfunction, as well as an increase incidence of STD in the year following receipt of ED medication. This indicates that a good number of men who are seeking medication for ED are likely looking for an enhanced sexual experience. They are also more likely to involve in risky sexual behavior.
How should doctors use research linking ED and STDs?
Traditionally, middle aged and older men have had lower incidences of STDs, consequently doctors do not often discuss safe sex practices with them. Generally, doctors speak with younger men about safe sex because STDs among this group are so high.
In light of the new research, doctors are being called upon to intensify efforts at educating men taking ED meds about safe sex practices. Men taking ED are two to three time more likely to contract an STD.
How men taking erectile dysfunction medication should react to ED and STD research.
This correlation should be taken as a warning among men to pay more attention to safe sex practices, as the urge to engage in these practices often precedes a doctors visit. It is not surprising that having lived through middle age without having contracted an STD, these men have become desensitized to the risks associated with sex with multiple partners.
While one might assume that older men would know better, it has become increasingly important to target middle aged and older men in advertising that precautions men to practice safe sex. One-sixth of older men are less likely to use a condom than young men in their 20s and one-fifth less likely to be tested for STDs.
Doctors should become more proactive in reminding middle aged and older men seeking ED treatment to practice safe sex and perform more STD screenings. Men should take responsibility for their behavior and take the initiative to practice whether they are seeking ED treatment or not.
Behen, Madonna. Drugs Like Viagra Linked to Higher Rates of STDs.
Woznicki, Katrina. Men on ED Drugs Get More STDs.