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16 April 2008
Painkillers Can Trigger Sexual Dysfunction
by George Atkinson

Men taking opioid analgesics (such as Vicodin or OxyContin) for more than a month to relieve chronic pain can experience hormonal disturbances leading to sexual dysfunction, reports the Pain Treatment Topics website. Author Stephen Colameco notes that chronic pain and sexual problems often go together but doctors rarely ask about patients' sexual concerns, and guidance literature on the subject is relatively scarce.

Colameco says there is considerable evidence that long-acting opioids used on a daily basis for more than a month can impair hormonal function in both men and women. Besides sexual dysfunction, symptoms can include weight gain, fatigue, depression and osteoporosis.

Colameco provides a number of recommendations for treating opioid side-effects, including:

  • Prior to the initiation of therapy, prescribers should inform patients that hormonal disturbances are common with higher dose, long-term opioid treatment.
  • After treatment is started, patients should be routinely evaluated for signs and symptoms of hormone deficiency, including sexual dysfunction.
  • When hormonal deficiency is suspected, appropriate laboratory testing should be ordered.
  • Testosterone supplementation can be of benefit for men.
  • Rotation from one opioid medication to another may also be effective.

Colameco concludes that opioid-induced hormonal deficiencies and associated sexual dysfunctions are often overlooked consequences of opioid therapy and if left untreated, they may negate the potential benefits of this analgesic.

Read the whole article
Testosterone Therapy Bereft Of Supportive Evidence
Testosterone Gel Helps Erectile Function

Source: Pain Treatment Topics

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