MONDAY, Nov. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Men who have erectile dysfunction and low testosterone may get no extra benefit from adding the hormone to their Viagra prescription, a new study suggests.
The first-choice treatments for erectile dysfunction are drugs called PDE5 inhibitors, which include sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra) and tadalafil (Cialis). They work by helping the smooth muscles of the penis to relax, which increases blood flow.
When men with erectile dysfunction also have low testosterone levels, doctors often prescribe testosterone gel along with a PDE5 inhibitor. But now a new clinical trial of 140 men with erectile dysfunction and low levels of testosterone puts that treatment combination into question.
"We had expected to see some added benefit from testosterone," said lead researcher Dr. Matthew Spitzer, an endocrinology fellow at Boston University School of Medicine. "But that's not what we observed."
Researchers found that, over 14 weeks, men who were randomly assigned to take Viagra plus testosterone gel did no better than those given the drug plus a hormone-free placebo gel.
Overall, men in both groups responded to the drug, Spitzer said.
On average, the men's score on a standard set of erectile dysfunction questions increased by about 8 points -- moving them up to the "mild" erectile dysfunction category. And there was no substantial difference between men who used the testosterone gel and those who used the placebo.
The findings, which appear in the Nov. 20 issue of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, surprised the researchers.
The results are good news for men with erectile dysfunction and low testosterone, Spitzer said. "This suggests sildenafil alone works extremely well for them," he said.
Another expert said the study could have clinical implications.
The findings are "likely to change th
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