Aspirin, known scientifically as acetylsalicylic acid, is probably the most ubiquitous drug in the world’s pharmacopeia. And with good reason.
The medication, which is classified as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID, is available over the counter and has proved itself among the most versatile of drugs since its invention in 1853.
Literally millions of Americans at risk of heart disease take low-dose (81 milligram tablets) aspirin daily to prevent the formation of blood clots that could conceivably break loose and travel to heart or brain with catastrophic results. Aspirin is also an effective anti-inflammatory agent, useful in combating arthritis and other inflammatory disorders, and it also is useful in treating fever and the simple headache.
Aspirin Emerges as Possible ED Therapy
Now comes word that the humble aspirin, available for as little as pennies a tablet, has been shown to improve erectile function in men diagnosed with ED of vascular origin. Insufficient blood flow to the penis, also known as vasculogenic ED, is the biggest single cause of impotence among men.
Conducted by two Turkish urologists associated with Istanbul Medipol University School of Medicine, the study tracked the effects of daily aspirin therapy (100 milligrams daily) on 120 patients diagnosed with vascular ED. Another 64 men, also diagnosed with vascular ED, were given daily doses of placebo and served as the control group for the study. None of the men in the double-blind, randomized study knew whether he was being treated with an active drug or placebo.
Participants Rate Erectile Function
To evaluate the study participants’ erectile function and satisfaction with the sexual encounters in their lives, they were required to self-administer both the erectile function (IIEF-EF) and sexual encounter profiles (IIEF-SEP) of the International Index of Erectile Function, or IIEF.
The study’s results, previewed online in January 2018 in advance of publication in “International Urology and Nephrology,” showed that men who’d been taking aspirin reported sharp improvements in both erectile function and satisfaction with their sexual encounters.
Significant Improvements Noted
At the end of six weeks of aspirin therapy, study participants reported that their scores on the 30-point IIEF-EF had improved from an average of 14.1 at the outset of the study to an average of 21.3 by study’s end. By contrast, those men who received placebo started with a baseline IIEF-EF of 14.3 and at the end of six weeks their IIEF-EF scores had climbed an average of only 2 points to 16.3.
All study participants were asked to respond to two key questions on the IIEF-SEP questionnaire. To the SEP-2 question — “Were you able to insert your penis into your partner’s vagina?” — aspirin-treated participants went from affirmative responses of 51.6 percent at the outset of the study to 70.5 percent by study’s end. Among those who received placebo, the percentage responding yes to SEP-2 rose only slightly from 50 to 54.7 percent.
Did Erection Last Long Enough?
Affirmative responses to the SEP-3 question — “Did your erection last long enough for you to have successful intercourse?” — among men treated with aspirin went from 31.6 percent at baseline to 46.3 percent by study’s end. Among men in the placebo group, the percentage responding affirmatively to SEP-3 was 31.2 at the outset and only 35.1 at the end of the study.
These positive results hold the promise that low-dose aspirin therapy might one day be a viable treatment for erectile dysfunction, particularly among men with mild to moderate symptoms. However, it should be noted that the Turkish study was relatively small in scale. It will take additional studies, preferably on a much larger scale, to confirm aspirin’s suitability as a treatment for ED.
Aspirin Can Irritate Stomach Lining
Like virtually all medications, aspirin is not without its downside. As a member of the NSAID family, it is a drug that can irritate the stomach lining and possible cause bleeding. For some, taking enteric-coated aspirin might be enough to mitigate this threat. However, for those with a history of gastrointestinal bleeding, aspirin may not be a wise choice. As with all medications, even those sold over the counter, check with your physician before taking aspirin on a regular basis.
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