Problems with sexual function have been a long-standing concern in the treatment of hypertension and may influence the choice of treatment regimens and decisions to discontinue drugs. The Treatment of Mild Hypertension Study (TOMHS) provides an excellent opportunity for examination of sexual function and effects of treatment on sexual function in men and women with stage I diastolic hypertension because of the number of drug classes studied, the double-blind study design, and the long-term follow-up. TOMHS was a double-blind, randomized controlled trial of 902 hypertensive individuals (557 men, 345 women), aged 45 to 69 years, treated with placebo or one of five active drugs (acebutolol, amlodipine maleate, chlorthalidone, doxazosin maleate, or enalapril maleate). All participants received intensive lifestyle counseling regarding weight loss, dietary sodium reduction, alcohol reduction (for current drinkers), and increased physical activity. Sexual function was ascertained by physician interviews at baseline and annually during follow-up. At baseline, 14.4% of men and 4.9% of women reported problems with sexual function. In men, 12.2% had problems obtaining and/or maintaining an erection; 2.0% of women reported a problem having an orgasm. Erection problems in men at baseline were positively related to age, systolic pressure, and previous antihypertensive drug use. The incidences of erection dysfunction during follow-up in men were 9.5% and 14.7% through 24 and 48 months, respectively, and were related to type of antihypertensive therapy. Participants randomized to chlorthalidone reported a significantly higher incidence of erection problems through 24 months than participants randomized to placebo (17.1% versus 8.1%, P =.025). Incidence rates through 48 months were more similar among treatment groups than at 24 months, with nonsignificant differences between the chlorthalidone and placebo groups. Incidence was lowest in the doxazosin group but was not significantly different from the placebo group. Incidence for acebutolol, amlodipine, and enalapril groups was similar to that in the placebo group. In many cases, erection dysfunction did not require withdrawal of medication. Disappearance of erection problems among men with problems at baseline was common in all groups but greatest in the doxazosin group. Incidence of reported sexual problems in women was low in all treatment groups. In conclusion, long-term incidence of erection problems in treated hypertensive men is relatively low but is higher with chlorthalidone treatment. Effects of erection dysfunction with chlorthalidone appear relatively early and are often tolerable, and new occurrences after 2 years are unlikely. The rate of reported sexual problems in hypertensive women is low and does not appear to differ by type of drug. Similar incidence rates of erection dysfunction in placebo and most active drug groups caution against routine attribution of erection problems to antihypertensive medication. (Hypertension. 1997;29:8-14.).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine