Men being treated with alpha-blockers for an enlarged prostate may not have to endure sexual dysfunction, says Tulane University urologist Wayne Hellstrom. Research conducted by Hellstrom comparing the impact of two commonly prescribed medications on men's ability to ejaculate was presented today at the 100th annual meeting of the American Urological Association May 23.
"Urologists have commonly believed that the sexual side effects that men experience with alpha-blockers were an indication that the therapy was working," said Hellstrom, professor of urology at the Tulane University School of Medicine and primary investigator of the study. "However, this study suggests that the sexual function component may be a side effect of some of the medications commonly used for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia."
It is very common for men to have an enlarged prostate at some time during their lives. Half of all American men aged 60 or older have an enlarged prostate. The condition, technically known as benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH, leads to a swelling of the walnut-sized gland that can squeeze the urethra, interfering with the flow of urine. This can cause difficulty in starting urination, a weak flow of urine and the need to urinate urgently or more frequently. Alpha-blockers, including the two medications studied by Hellstrom, are commonly prescribed to relieve the symptoms.
Fifty-seven healthy men at an average age of 25 volunteered to receive five days of Flomax once-daily, Uroxatral once-daily or placebo in a randomized three-way, double-blind crossover study with a 10-day washout between treatments. One out of three who took Flomax could not ejaculate at all, while those taking Uroxatral or a placebo were able to ejaculate. One in five of those taking Uroxatral experienced a decrease in semen quantity, compared to nine out of 10 taking Flomax.
According to Hellstrom, the results should spur researchers to further investigate the way in which alpha-blockers affect a man's ability to ejaculate. Hellstrom advises patients to consult with their doctors to learn about the benefits and side effects of medication in order to determine which treatment is right for them.