Impact of medical treatments for benign prostatic hyperplasia on sexual function

BJU Int. 2006 Apr;97 Suppl 2:34-8; discussion 44-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2006.06104.x.


Lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) and male sexual dysfunction are highly prevalent in ageing men, and are strongly linked. Various treatment strategies for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)/LUTS may affect sexuality, with differences between drug classes and between drugs within a same class. The 5alpha-reductase inhibitors, finasteride and dutasteride, are associated with a greater risk of erectile dysfunction (ED), ejaculatory dysfunction (EjD) and decreased libido than is placebo. Alpha1-adrenoceptor blockers (alfuzosin, doxazosin, tamsulosin, terazosin) show an incidence of decreased libido and ED closely similar to placebo, but differ in their impact on ejaculation, tamsulosin being associated with a higher incidence of EjD (10%) than other alpha1-adrenoceptor blockers (0-1%) and placebo (1%), which is unrelated to retrograde ejaculation or higher efficacy. A randomized, placebo-controlled, cross-over study conducted in healthy volunteers showed that tamsulosin 0.8 mg once daily markedly decreased mean ejaculate volume in almost 90% of subjects, with 35% having no ejaculation. By contrast, there was no lack of ejaculation in subjects receiving alfuzosin 10 mg once daily or placebo. Sperm concentrations in urine after ejaculation were similar for the three treatment groups, confirming that the EjD with tamsulosin was unrelated to retrograde ejaculation. It may be related to a peripheral effect on seminal vesicles and/or the vas deferens. A central effect is also plausible, as tamsulosin shows a strong affinity for 5HT1A- and D2-like receptors, both of which are involved in the central command of ejaculation. In conclusion, because treatment options for managing BPH have different effects on sexuality, the sexual dimension should be considered when assessing patients' expectations and the choice of treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 5-alpha Reductase Inhibitors
  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists / adverse effects
  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ejaculation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia / complications
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia / drug therapy*
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / chemically induced*
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / drug therapy
  • Sulfonamides / adverse effects
  • Sulfonamides / therapeutic use
  • Tamsulosin


  • 5-alpha Reductase Inhibitors
  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists
  • Sulfonamides
  • Tamsulosin