Viagra linked to sex diseases

Last updated 00:32 24/05/2008

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Viagra use has been linked to a dramatic increase in sexually transmitted diseases in older men because it fuels extramarital affairs, British doctors say.

New Zealand figures on rates of sexual infections among older men were not available, but many sexual-health physicians say the British findings ring true.

It is 10 years since the launch of Viagra, during which time the male sex drug has become one of the world's best-known brand names and transformed the sex lives of an estimated 27 million men worldwide.

According to British health information, rates of sexual infections such as gonorrhea more than tripled in men aged 45 to 64 a rate more than four times that of the increase in rates among teenagers.

There were also dramatic increases in other sexual infections in the same British male group, with the number of chlamydia cases increasing by 315 per cent between 1997 and 2006.

International Society for Sexual Medicine president John Dean said Viagra had been a mixed blessing as it had a negative effect on women as well as encouraging sexual promiscuity in men, leading to the contraction of infectious diseases.

While women battled mood swings and low libido because of menopause, their partners were taking Viagra and putting the pressure on for sex, he said.

It also gave men greater freedom to engage in sexual activity with more partners, he said.

MenzMedical Christchurch director Dr Rob Williams said older men using Viagra sometimes came to the clinic to get checked for sexual diseases after having extramarital affairs.

"It's the guilt mostly that brings them in here," he said.

Williams said the British experience of a rise in sexual infections among older men after the advent of Viagra was likely to be mirrored in New Zealand.

Williams said older men particularly at risk were those frequently swapping sexual partners or using prostitutes.

MenzMedical started as an erectile dysfunction clinic but demand meant it was now a full health centre where men also had sexual disease checks, he said.

"They often feel more comfortable coming here because we prescribe Viagra, and all the doctors and nurses are male," Williams said.

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