Association Between Opioid Use and Risk of Erectile Dysfunction: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

J Sex Med. 2017 Oct;14(10):1209-1219. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2017.08.010. Epub 2017 Sep 8.


Background: Opioid analgesics have been widely used to relieve chronic pain conditions; however, a connection between opioid analgesic administration and increased susceptibility to erectile dysfunction (ED) has been hypothesized.

Aim: To evaluate whether opioid use was a risk factor for ED in a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Methods: The PubMed, Cochrane Library, and Embase databases were searched to identify eligible studies concerning opioid use and risk of ED from inception to April 2017. The association between opioid use and risk of ED was summarized using the relative risk with 95% CI. Sensitivity analyses were conducted to assess potential bias. The Begg and Egger tests were used for publication bias analysis. The GRADE evidence profile tool was used to assess the quality of the evidence.

Outcomes: The overall combined risk estimates for the effect of opioid use on ED were calculated using a random-effects model.

Results: This meta-analysis included 8,829 men (mean age = 41.6 years) from 10 studies, 2,456 of whom received opioid management (duration of intervention = 4 months to 9.5 years). Pooled results demonstrated that the use of opioids was significantly associated with an increased risk of ED (relative risk = 1.96, 95% CI = 1.66-2.32, P < .001). Estimates of the total effects were generally consistent in the sensitivity analysis. No evidence of publication bias was observed. The overall quality of evidence was rated as low.

Clinical implications: We found that men with opioid use had a significantly increased prevalence of ED, which suggests that patients and clinicians should be aware of the potential role played by opioid administration in the development of ED.

Strengths and limitations: This is the first meta-analysis performed to describe the relation between opioid use and ED risk based on all available epidemiologic studies. However, the direction of causality between opioid use and risk of ED should be interpreted with caution because most included studies used a cross-sectional design.

Conclusion: Evidence from the included observational studies indicated that men with opioid use had a significantly increased risk of ED. Further randomized controlled trials are still needed to confirm this relation. Zhao S, Deng T, Luo L, et al. Association Between Opioid Use and Risk of Erectile Dysfunction: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Sex Med 2017;14:1209-1219.

Keywords: Erectile Dysfunction; Meta-Analysis; Opioid; Systematic Review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Erectile Dysfunction / epidemiology
  • Erectile Dysfunction / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / complications*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors


  • Analgesics, Opioid