Statins, with or without sildenafil, could help men with erectile dysfunction (ED), according to Chinese researchers who conducted a literature review.
Their meta-analysis examined studies that compared statins (+/- sildenafil) with a placebo (+/- sildenafil).
Statins are often prescribed to reduce LDL cholesterol levels. Sildenafil is a phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor used to treat ED.
Past research has shown a connection between high cholesterol and an increased risk for ED. However, it was unclear whether reducing cholesterol levels would reduce ED risk or if lowering cholesterol levels could help men who already had ED.
With this in mind, the researchers decided to examine the literature. They searched the MEDLINE, Embase, and Cochrane Controlled Trials Register databases for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that involved statin treatment for ED.
In the end, six studies involving 462 patients met their inclusion criteria. Three of the studies compared statins with placebo. The other three compared statins plus sildenafil with placebo plus sildenafil. All of the studies were considered to be of high quality and used standardized ED assessments like the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF).
Overall, the researchers determined that statins (+/- sildenafil) might improve ED when compared with placebo (+/- sildenafil). Men who took statins (+/- sildenafil) generally saw their IIEF scores improve, indicating better erectile function. In studies that compared statins with placebo, there were no significant differences in erectile function.
“Normalization of serum lipid levels seems to have a potential role in the rehabilitation of erectile functions,” they wrote.
They acknowledged that their analysis included a small number of studies and that none of the studies lasted longer than six months. Therefore, they could not say whether men would continue to see improvements in they took statins for a longer period of time.
The study was first published online last month in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
The Journal of Sexual Medicine
Cui, Yuanshan MD, et al.
“The Effect of Statins on Erectile Dysfunction: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”
(Full-text. First published online: March 13, 2014)