A new study has revealed that sexual impairment is common among men with chronic hepatitis C undergoing antiviral therapy.
This is the first time a study evaluating the combination therapy, peginterferon and ribavirin, has identified sexual dysfunction as a side effect.
As part of the study, 260 men treated with peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin completed self-administered questionnaires concerning sexual desire, sexual function - including erectile and ejaculatory function - and sexual satisfaction before, during and after treatment.
Before therapy, 37 percent of men reported at least some degree of impairment in sexual desire, while 44 percent reported dissatisfaction with their sexual life.
In addition, 22 percent reported impairment in erectile and 26 percent in ejaculatory function.
The average onset of sexual dysfunction appeared to be within four weeks of starting antiviral therapy, and many patients reported a gradual worsening over time.
At the end of therapy (24 or 48 weeks), an estimated 38 percent to 48 percent of men reported that overall sexual function was worse than before treatment. African Americans reported less impairment in sexual desire and satisfaction than Caucasian Americans during therapy.
While most components of sexual health evaluated in this study resolved within six months after the cessation of therapy, erectile and ejaculatory function remained slightly worse than before therapy in a proportion of men who received a full 48 weeks of treatment.
The study has been published in Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute.