Metformin medication may help treat erectile dysfunction
In addition to helping people with type 2 diabetes keep control of their blood sugar levels, scientists at Georgia Health Sciences University in the US believe metformin may also provide an alternative option to anti-impotence drugs such as Viagra.
Results from laboratory tests at the University, published online in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, showed the diabetes medication may improve erectile function by increasing levels of the naturally occurring chemical nitric oxide in the body.
This makes blood vessels in the genital area more flexible and dilated, thus increasing the flow of blood into the penis.
However, the tests were only conducted on laboratory rats so it is unclear whether the drug would have the same effect in humans.
"Metformin is an old, cheap, well-tried and tested drug which is usually well tolerated," commented Dr David Edwards, a GP who runs the male sexual health clinic at the Oxfordshire-based White House Surgery.
"But it was only used for 28 days, which is a short time, and just in rats. Many diabetics are already on metformin and yet erectile dysfunction is very common in this group. It may be that their problems might be worse if they were not on the drug."
10% of men in the UK experience erectile dysfunction at some point in their lives. Among people diagnosed with diabetes, it is even more common with up to 75% of diabetic men experiencing erection problems during their lifetime.
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