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Prostate Drug (Flomax) Ruins Sex Life

Q. Flomax (tamsulosin) has played havoc with my sex life. The doctor has advised me to skip a dose when I believe the chance for sex may arise. I really do not like stopping the medication. When I stop Flomax I have trouble urinating.

In addition, Flomax is extremely expensive. When I go into the Medicare donut hole in June, the cost will be unbearable. Is there a different medication for prostate problems that will not have the side effect of ED?

I have contemplated surgery but am afraid that I might suffer ED from that. Can you offer any advice?

A. Flomax is now available generically as tamsulosin, but some people report complications from certain formulations. Here are just a few stories on this website:

“My husband had been taking Flomax for a few years when a generic form came to market. Due to the inert ingredients, he ended in the hospital with gastritis. My insurance company will not pay for Flomax, only the generic TAMSULOSIN. We cannot afford the high price of FLOMAX. I asked them to make a one-time exception to override the cost for a one-month supply of Flomax. We just planned to wean him off the alpha-blocker as needed due to severe side effects, but was denied.”

“My prescription insurance company has arbitrarily been substituting generics for name brand medications that my physicians have prescribed. About a year ago, my urologist faxed in a prescription for Flomax, but he didn’t write DAW [“dispense as written”]. The pharmacy filled the Rx with generic tamsulosin. After taking two of these capsules, a rash appeared around my left ankle.

“The dermatologist took a sample and sent it to a pathologist, who concluded: this person is allergic to a medication he is taking. I stopped taking those pills, but when I reported this to my urologist, he called in a new Rx to my local Walmart Pharmacy. They informed me that they no longer filled prescriptions with Flomax, only the generic tamsulosin. I had to go to a different pharmacy and go through a lot of red tape to get the Flomax Rx.”

TAMSULOSIN SIDE EFFECTS:

  • Runny nose
  • Dizziness, especially when standing up
  • Rash, itching or hives [notify your doctor immediately!]
  • Reduced semen
  • Sore throat, infection
  • Back pain
  • Sleepiness
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Cough
  • Lower libido

One serious problem with alpha blockers like tamsulosin or doxazosin is complications during cataract surgery. Something called Intraoperative Floppy Iris Syndrome (IFIS) makes it more difficult for the surgeon to complete this procedure normally. Anyone taking such drugs MUST inform the eye surgeon prior to scheduling cataract surgery.

When it comes to erectile dysfunction, there are some problems associated with standard treatments. One interesting new development is that the ED drug Cialis (tadalafil) not only eases symptoms of an enlarged prostate, it also helps deal with ED. The only trouble is that it is pricey and many insurance companies will not pay for it.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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