Statins may help to combat Erectile Dysfunction

edCholesterol-busting statins such as Crestor (Rosuvastatin) and Lipitor (Atorvastatin) are currently prescribed to nearly a tenth (7 million) of the population in the United Kingdom with high cholesterol; however could they also be used as a treatment for the millions of men around the world who suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED)?

Statins are inexpensive with the pills costing around the equivalent of just 40p per day. For high cholesterol they work by increasing good/protective cholesterol (HDL) and lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides. The higher your cholesterol level, the bigger the risk you have of suffering from a stroke or heart disease and thus increasing the overall risk of having a heart attack due to your arteries being clogged up with the fat-like substance cholesterol.

ED, also known as male impotence, is a common condition that affects  about four in ten men over the age of 40 and around one in ten men across the UK suffer with the problem at some point in their life. Revolutionary medications to treat ED such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra have dramatically managed to help the situation for millions of men in the previous decade. Unfortunately there are some men who take them and see little or no improvement. Erection problems can severely impact a man’s self-esteem and even can cause stress that damages his health and relationship with his partner.

Past research has highlighted the possibility of erectile dysfunction being a precursor for heart disease. Therefore, researchers at Tanta University in Egypt decided to conduct a study into statins and ED. They recruited 60 men suffering with erectile problems – all of whom had not responded to Viagra.

The men were separated into three groups, being given 80mg of atorvastatin (Lipitor) each day or a vitamin E supplement or a placebo. Vitamin E was chosen as it is widely believed to also help men in the bedroom by aiding blood flow to the groin.

Any possible improvements in the men’s ability to achieve and maintain an erection were monitored after six weeks.

The study’s findings are explained in the International Journal of Impotence Research, and show those men who experienced the most improvement with their erectile problems were those taking a statin every day. The men were analysed by doctors using a 25-point scale known as the International Index of Erectile Dysfunction. The statin atorvastatin helped to achieve an average increase of score by 53% on the index.

The researchers believe the atorvastatin helps to increase the generation of nitric oxide. This causes blood vessel walls to relax and results in much better blood flow which in the pelvic region, would lead to improved erections.

Dr David Edwards, a GP who runs a male sexual health clinic at the White House Surgery in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, said the findings were ‘interesting’, commenting: “A lot of men stop taking them because the data sheet lists erectile dysfunction as one of the potential side-effects. But there is increasing evidence that a high dose of statins can improve vascular blood flow, which might help some men.”

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