Statins may improve erectile function

Common cholesterol drugs had been feared to hinder it

WASHINGTON — Cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins seem to lessen erectile dysfunction, an analysis of 14 studies finds.

Scores on a five-item questionnaire that doctors use to assess erectile dysfunction in men improved or were unchanged in all but one of the studies, which included 11 randomized trials and three other studies. John Kostis, a cardiologist at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, N.J., and colleague Jeanne Dobrzynski analyzed the data, which Kostis reported March 29 at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology.

Doctors have been concerned that taking statins could worsen the condition. “Some people call statins a two-edged sword,” Kostis said, because they enhance availability of nitric oxide, a vessel dilator, and improve blood vessel function – but also lower cholesterol. While lower levels of LDL, the bad cholesterol, are beneficial for cardiovascular health, cholesterol is also a building block of testosterone, and loss of testosterone hurts sex drive.

Kostis doesn’t suggest giving statins to treat erectile dysfunction. “That would be stretching it,” he said. But the findings offer another reason for men who already take statins to keep up with their prescriptions. 

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