Treating Erectile Dysfunction is a Growing Problem Because of Men
According to recent finding by researchers, a significant percentage of men diagnosed with erectile dysfunction are not seeking treatment even though multiple options that do work are available.
The findings were released this week at the 28th Annual European Association of Urology (EAU) Congress in Milan, Italy where a large scale study involving 6,228,509 patients diagnosed with erectile dysfunction (ED) determined that up to 75% of those patients did not seek treatment for their ED following diagnosis.
According to a news release by the EAU, patients were considered "treated" if they filled a prescription for a phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor (PDE5i), had injection or urethral prostaglandins treatment, or received prescriptions for androgen replacement therapy (ART). Patients labeled as “untreated” were those who received a diagnosis of ED, but did not follow through by having a prescription filled.
The aim of the study was to determine the frequency of use of the various medical therapies for treating ED and to see what associated co-morbidities of ED could be found via a larger than usual patient population study for ED. Co-morbidities are life-threatening medical conditions that can occur with erectile dysfunction such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and osteoporosis.
Erectile Dysfunction is an underserved medical condition
The surprising discovery that so few men with ED actively seek treatment underscores the need of recognition of an underserved medical condition that needs to be addressed with education and encouragement by physicians.
Typically, ED is treated with one of three modalities: with phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor pills like Viagra or Cialis that increases blood flow to the penis during sexual stimulation; penile prostaglandin injection or urethral prostaglandin suppositories that have vasodilatory properties; and, androgen replacement (ART) that boosts testosterone levels for those who suffer from hypogonadism.
Interestingly, the study found that the majority of men with ED who did seek treatment that the most commonly used treatments were with phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor pills at 75.2%, followed by androgen replacement therapy with 30.6%, but less than 2% with prostaglandin therapy―needle injection of the penis or inserting a urethral suppository inside the penis just minutes before attempting sex are less attractive treatments by patients with ED.
Aside from the difficulties associated with the 3 modalities of treatment, patient awareness of their condition and its cause may account for another reason why so few men seek treatment. According to one study, men often misinterpret their loss of libido and ability to perform sexually as a natural consequence of the aging process and therefore do not seek help, when in fact numerous other causes that can be easily remedied are to blame.
Another problem is that unlike menopause that typically comes on suddenly in women and is easily recognized, a decrease in testosterone in men occurs much more gradually leading to an under-diagnosis of testosterone deficiency by physicians with their male patients.
For more information about erectile dysfunction and what you can do about it, follow the links to the articles listed below:
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Reference: "The frequencies and characteristics of men receiving medical intervention for erectile dysfunction: Analysis of 6.2 million patients" O. Cakir, et al.; Abstract Nr: 126; 28th Annual EAU Congress, 15 to 19 March 2013; Milan, Italy.