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Management pathways for erectile dysfunction in primary care

02 January 2021
Volume 32 · Issue 1


Erectile dysfunction is a common problem in primary care. Martin Steggall and colleagues discuss what needs to be assessed and the treatment options available

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is defined as the inability of a man to get and maintain an erection that is sufficient for sexual intercourse, and is a common problem. ED commonly has a profound negative impact on quality of life in the patient and his partner, which can result in changes to sexual self-confidence. This article outlines strategies for identifying and managing ED in primary care, outlining what needs to be assessed and the various treatment options available to manage the condition.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common male sexual dysfunction with an estimated incidence of 20–40% of men in their 60s, increasing to 50–100% of men in their 70s (Lewis, et al, 2010). ED is defined as the inability of a man to get and maintain an erection that is sufficient for sexual intercourse. ED commonly has a profound negative impact on quality of life in the patient and his partner, which can result in changes to sexual self-confidence (Steggall, 2007). It may also impact compliance with other prescribed medications where it is known that side effects can cause ED. Men who identify with traditional masculine ideals may take risks concerning their health. For these men sexual functioning is a vital part of their identity and manhood, and sexual competency validates their masculinity (Helgeson and Lepore, 2004). In other words, some men find ED difficult to cope with due to either fear or embarrassment. Therefore, they may seek to self-manage the condition by stopping anti-hypertensive or other medications if they know side effects can cause erection difficulties.

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