Viagra Users Get More STDs

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Patients asking for a Viagra prescription should consider taking  a sex education refresher course. A new study by the Annals of Internal Medicine says that those who take erectile dysfunction drugs have a higher rate of sexually transmitted diseases than those who don’t.

"Younger adults have far more STDs than older adults, but the rates are growing at far higher rates in older adults," Dr. Anupam B. Jena of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who led the study, told Reuters. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, STD rates in men over 40 have risen almost 50% from 1996 to 2008.

To investigate the effects erectile dysfunction drugs may have had on these numbers, Jena and his research team analyzed health insurance claims made from 1997 through 2006 by more than 1.4 million U.S. men over 40. (Some were on erectile dysfunction meds; some were not.) They discovered that those popping the pills had two to three times higher rates of STD infection than non-pill poppers both one year before and one year after being issued their initial prescription.  

This particular timeframe has lead researchers to conclude that men who opt to take erectile dysfunction pills have a different sexual risk profile than those who don’t. “The observed association between ED drug use and STDs may have more to do with the types of patients using ED drugs rather than a direct effect of ED drug availability on STD rates,” the study reads.

In other words, ED users can’t blame it on the drugs … yet. It might just be their personality that predisposes them to take more risks.  Additionally, 50-year-olds are six times less likely to use a condom than men in their 20s, most likely because the threat of unwanted pregnancy is significantly diminished, according to Jena. What further complicates things is that doctors are less likely to discuss the risks of unprotected sex with older men than they are with younger patients. (This is probably because young men are still 10 times more likely to contract an STD than an older or middle-aged man.)

The most common of these STDs was HIV, followed by chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea.

"The most important thing to remember is that even after 40 or 50 years of age, men and women can still get STDs," Jena told AOL Health.

Another study to investigate whether ED medications themselves increase sexually transmitted health risks is being planned by Jena’s research team. Until then, the current study suggests that counseling about safe sexual practices and screening for STDs should accompany the prescription of ED drugs.

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