Sex or Deaf? Hugh Hefner’s Viagra Story

Playboy entrepreneur Hugh Hefner is having a week. First, we found out that his 25-year-old fiancee Crystal Harris called off their wedding and now his 21-year-old twin girlfriends Karissa and Kristina Shannon are moving back into the Playboy Mansion. The Shannon twins, however, reported to the UK’s The Sun, that Hef has gone nearly deaf because of the Viagra he uses.  According to Karissa:

You have to lean down and talk into his good ear for him to understand you… We could sit right next to him and he wouldn’t have a clue what we said.

When asked about whether Hef has stopped taking the Viagra, she said that:

He said he would rather have sex than have his hearing. He has hearing aids now and even then he can only hear out of one ear.

So, is it the Viagra that has caused Hef’s hearing loss? Of course, it is hard to say that the Viagra caused the hearing loss in an 85-year-old man. According to the Institute on Aging, hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults. Approximately 17 percent, or 36 million, of American adults say that they have some degree of hearing loss. Roughly one-third of Americans 65 to 74 years of age and 47 percent of those 75 and older have hearing loss. Men are more likely to experience hearing loss than women.

But this doesn’t mean Viagra didn’t contribute to his hearing loss. In 2007 the FDA made changes to the labels of certain erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs  such as Cialis, Levitra, and Viagra. The new labels had to clearly state a potential risk of sudden hearing loss. The FDA had found 29 cases of sudden hearing loss closely related in time to the use of those ED drugs. The hearing loss was sometimes associated with ringing in the ears or dizziness.

A more recent study by the University of Alabama supported the FDA ruling. They looked at the health records of over 11,000 men over 40. Men who reported using those ED drugs were twice as likely to also report hearing loss as were men who had not used the drugs.

For more information about Viagra and ED, look at our story about Tokio Hotel Guitarist Tom Kaulitz.

If you had a choice between sex and your hearing, which would you give up?

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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