Finnish researchers surveyed some 1,100 men ages 50 to 70 about their use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which include most over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (generic, Advil, Motrin IB), and naproxen (generic, Aleve). They also asked how often the men experienced erectile dysfunction, the inability to achieve or maintain an erection.
The men surveyed who were regularly taking aspirin, ibuprofen, or neproxin (Advil, Motrin IB, Aleve) were nearly twice as likely to experience erectile dysfunction as the men who either did not take these pain relievers or who used acetaminophen (Tylenol) instead. The researchers did account for various existing medical conditions among the men surveyed which could also have caused the impotence. The report, however, did not correlate other dietary or environmental factors which may also have existed among the impotence group in conjunction with the use of NSAIDs, such as alcohol consumption.
Although this survey should not be considered a definitive medical study, the researchers theorize that NSAIDs may diminish the body’s release of nitric oxide, a chemical needed to achieve erections. Erectile-dysfunction drugs such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra) work, in part, by stimulating nitric-oxide release.
In addition to the erectile dysfunction side effect, prolonged use of NSAIDs is believed to increase certain other serious health risks: high blood pressure, heart attack, stomach bleeding, and kidney and liver damage. So an alternative drug, acetaminophen (generic, Panadol, Tylenol), is generally the best first choice for mild-to-moderate pain, though it too may harm the liver. Men who experience erectile dysfunction should consult their physician to rule out an underlying disorder that could be causing the problem, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. If they’re taking an NSAID and have no such disorder, they should consider switching to acetaminophen if they no tolerance problems with that medication.