Study design: Cross-sectional analysis of electronic medical and pharmacy records.
Objective: To examine associations between use of medication for erectile dysfunction or testosterone replacement and use of opioid therapy, patient age, depression, and smoking status.
Summary of background data: Males with chronic pain may experience erectile dysfunction related to depression, smoking, age, or opioid-related hypogonadism. The prevalence of this problem in back pain populations and the relative importance of several risk factors are unknown.
Methods: We examined electronic pharmacy and medical records for males with back pain in a large group model health maintenance organization during 2004. Relevant prescriptions were considered for 6 months before and after the index visit.
Results: There were 11,327 males with a diagnosis of back pain. Males who received medications for erectile dysfunction or testosterone replacement (n = 909) were significantly older than those who did not and had greater comorbidity, depression, smoking, and use of sedative-hypnotics. In logistic regressions, the long-term use of opioids was associated with greater use of medications for erectile dysfunction or testosterone replacement compared with no opioid use (odds ratio, 1.45; 95% confidence interval, 1.12-1.87, P < 0.01). Age, comorbidity, depression, and use of sedative-hypnotics were also independently associated with the use of medications for erectile dysfunction or testosterone replacement. Patients prescribed daily opioid doses of 120 mg of morphine-equivalents or more had greater use of medication for erectile dysfunction or testosterone replacement than patients without opioid use (odds ratio, 1.58; 95% confidence interval, 1.03-2.43), even with adjustment for the duration of opioid therapy.
Conclusion: Dose and duration of opioid use, as well as age, comorbidity, depression, and use of sedative-hypnotics, were associated with evidence of erectile dysfunction. These findings may be important in the process of decision making for the long-term use of opioids.
Level of evidence: 4.