Bipolar affective disorder (BAD) is a mental illness characterized by episodes of depression and mania. Lithium is a commonly used medication for BAD that helps stabilize mood and prevent future episodes. However, one common side effect of lithium therapy is sexual dysfunction, which can significantly impact quality of life for patients. A recent study published in Bipolar Disorders by Saroukhani et al. (2013) investigated the potential of aspirin as a treatment for lithium-related sexual dysfunction in men.
The study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that included 32 men with stable BAD who had been on lithium maintenance therapy. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either aspirin (240 mg/day) or placebo for six weeks. Sexual symptoms were assessed at baseline, Week 3, and Week 6 using the International Index for Erectile Function (IIEF). Depressive and mania symptoms and plasma lithium concentrations were also assessed at baseline and Week 6. Side effects were monitored using a checklist.
The results showed that patients in the aspirin group had significantly greater improvement in total score and erectile function domain of the IIEF than those in the placebo group by Week 6. Specifically, patients in the aspirin group showed a 63.9% improvement in total score and an 85.4% improvement in erectile function domain from baseline, while those in the placebo group showed only a 14.4% and 19.7% improvement, respectively. Additionally, 80% of patients in the aspirin group met the criteria for minimal clinically important change, compared to only 20% in the placebo group. The other domains of the IIEF also showed significant improvement at the end of the trial. Baseline and endpoint lithium concentrations and mania and depressive symptoms did not differ significantly between the two groups, indicating that the effects were likely due to aspirin treatment.
These findings suggest that aspirin may be an effective treatment for lithium-related sexual dysfunction in men with stable BAD. Aspirin is a readily available and affordable medication with a well-established safety profile, making it an attractive option for patients who experience sexual dysfunction as a side effect of lithium therapy. However, it is important to note that this study only included male participants and further research is needed to determine if aspirin has similar effects in female patients.
In conclusion, the study by Saroukhani et al. (2013) provides evidence for the potential of aspirin as a treatment for lithium-related sexual dysfunction in men. Future studies should investigate the long-term effects of aspirin treatment and whether it is effective in female patients. Additionally, it is important for clinicians to consider the impact of lithium-related sexual dysfunction on patients and to discuss potential treatment options with them.