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Erection Problems May Affect Young Men

Study: Some Young Men Take Erectile Drugs Without Seeing Doctor First
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

May 1, 2006 -- Some young men experience erection problems and take erectile dysfunctionerectile dysfunctiondrugs without a doctor's prescription.

So says an anonymous survey of 234 men aged 18-25 at three Chicago universities. The researchers included Najah Senno Musacchio, MD, of Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

The results, presented in San Francisco, at the Pediatric Academic Societies' annual meeting, include:

  • 95% of the participants were heterosexual; two-thirds were white.
  • 13% reported ever having difficulty getting or keeping an erection.
  • 25% reported ever losing an erection while putting on a condom.

The study doesn't show how often those men had erection problems.

Erection Problems, Erectile Dysfunction Drugs

Here are more details on participants who reported ever having had erection problems:

  • Only 1 in 29 discussed those erectile problems with a medical provider.
  • Participants who had ever had an erectile problem were more likely to have had a prior sexually transmitted disease (STD) and more than 5 partners in the past year.
  • Men who had ever had lost an erection while putting on a condom were more likely to use condoms inconsistently.

The survey also shows that 14 men (6% of all participants) reported using erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs. Most of those men got ED drugs from friends or other nonmedical sources, such as the Internet. Only one got ED medication from a medical provider, the study shows.

Risky Behavior

More than half of the men who noted using ED drugs reported doing so to treat their erectile problems. Another 29% reported using the drugs to "enhance sexual performance," the researchers write.

The young users of ED drugs were more likely to have had an STD and to have ever had erectile problems, the study shows.

Nearly two-thirds of those who used ED drugs reported mixing ED drugs with other drugs -- alcohol, marijuana, the sedative GHB, methamphetamine, and cocaine -- that "boost sex drive and reduce inhibitions but diminish sexual performance," the researchers write.

Combining ED drugs with alcohol or other drugs "permits men in altered states to have risky sex, potentially contributing to unwanted pregnancies and the spread of STDs," write Musacchio and colleagues.

Since young men commonly reported erectile problems -- and rarely told medical workers about those problems -- the researchers advise health care workers to start the conversation, asking about erectile problems, stressing the risks of mixing ED medication with drugs or alcohol, and the need to use condoms in all sexual encounters.

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