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It may not be as widely discussed as cardiovascular disease, cancer, or stroke, but erectile dysfunction continues to affect millions of men around the world.
The condition is caused by both psychogenic and physical causes, which account for most cases of erectile dysfunction. Studies suggest that 40% of men over 50 years old with erectile dysfunction have an atherosclerotic disease, while others have diabetes and vascular disease (1).
In recent years, however, the use of steroids and erectile dysfunction has gained mixed reviews, especially with some studies suggesting that steroids can cause and not treat erectile dysfunction.
There are two popular types of steroids—corticosteroids and anabolic steroids—but corticosteroids are used more prominently in the treatment of inflammatory conditions like arthritis. But because they are usually called steroids, many people believe that they are similar to anabolic steroids, which are used by athletes and bodybuilders and are generally illegal.
Corticosteroids were first introduced in 1935 as an isolate from adrenal glands used to treat many diseases because of its anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating properties (2). Glucocorticoids such as cortisol help regulate immune function while mineralocorticoids such as aldosterone help regulate electrolyte balance.
Today, corticosteroids can be naturally produced by the adrenal cortex or manufactured synthetically to mimic its molecular structure. Corticosteroids work mainly by blocking the production of substances that stimulate inflammatory and allergic responses and are used to treat autoimmune disorders like lupus and arthritis, Chron’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and even leukemia.
Anabolic steroids, on the other hand, are controversial for being illegally used by athletes to improve their physical performance (3). Mimicking the natural male sex hormones, anabolic steroids are believed to promote skeletal muscle growth and the development of male sexual characteristics.
Although they can be used to treat conditions that cause hypogonadism or low testosterone levels, abusing anabolic steroids could result in stunted growth, hypertension, infertility, jaundice, dramatic mood changes, and even kidney failure.
The Ties That Bind Between Steroids and Erectile Dysfunction
There has been a lot of controversy in the use of anabolic steroids as part of erectile dysfunction treatment. This is because steroids may indirectly affect erection due to other side effects like high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
But some people take Viagra and anabolic steroids together to treat erectile dysfunction. Here are some of the essential facts about steroids and erectile dysfunction:
- Anabolic steroids can be both beneficial and risky, depending on how they are used. Although using too many steroids can put you at a higher risk for developing erectile dysfunction (4), some men use it in conjunction with a testosterone source to counteract that risk.
- Viagra is a popular medication for treating erectile dysfunction, and it functions by dilating blood vessels to promote better blood flow to the penis.
Men who take anabolic steroids usually combine them with Viagra to help move the steroids into their bloodstream for greater effects. Steroid users also take Viagra to counteract the potential side effect of decreased sexual function when using anabolic steroids.
- There are still no studies to determine the safety of taking steroids and Viagra together. It’s essential to take note, however, that both these drugs require a prescription, which is why it’s critical to ask the guidance of a doctor before taking one or both of them.
Short-term steroid use has been believed to improve sex drive while Viagra ensures sexual performance. This is why a lot of men use them together. But long-term use and abuse of both these drugs could also lead to some severe consequences.
At the end of the day, it’s always about taking the necessary precautions in using steroids and erectile dysfunction medication to ensure that you’re getting the benefits of the medicines you’re taking and not their complications.
If you’re taking steroids for a health condition, ask your doctor if you could take those medications together with Viagra or any other treatment option for erectile dysfunction.