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Statistical Realities

Published: August 2, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, a report in The Annals of Internal Medicine created an uprising of sensationalist news stories. The report was of a study done at Massachusetts General Hospital that showed that men who are prescribed medication for erectile dysfunction were more likely to have sexually transmitted diseases. I hate to return to the use of grade school vernacular, but I think that this study has genuinely earned itself a long, hearty “DUH!”

Of course, news reporters all over the web have taken this study and blown it completely out of proportion. Headlines like “ED Meds Linked to STDs” intentionally mislead the casual reader into thinking that somehow the medication people receive are actually causing them to contract these diseases. Let me tell you now that this is simply not true. What the study actually found was that men over the age of 40 who were prescribed medication to treat there erectile dysfunction were two to three times more likely to have an STD.

Statistics are a great thing, and one of the reasons certain news stories get blown out of proportion is because reporters use statistical tricks to over-emphasize a point. Let’s look at this from a more practical perspective. Among men over 40, about 1 in 1000 (0.1%) are infected with an STD. According to the study done at Mass Gen, men with prescriptions for ED meds are 2-3 times more likely to have an STD. That means 3 out of every 1000 (0.3%) men over 40 and on ED meds have STDs. Cause for national concern? I think not. What these headlines really should have read is “Sexually active men are more likely to have STDs. In other news, people who drive automobiles are more likely to be involved in traffic accidents.”

What people should take from this study is not some irrational fear about ED medication, but rather a wake-up call that no matter your age, it is important to use safe sexual practices. Other studies have shown that men over 50 are actually one-sixth less likely to use a condom when compared to people in their 20s – probably owing to less concern of pregnancy. Let me remind you that STDs don’t discriminate, and the need for precautions does not abate with age.

For information on how to get erectile dysfunction safely handled go to http://www.doctorsclinicformen.com.

Remember – when you’re back in the game the same rules apply; but you knew that.