Erectile Dysfunction Undertreated, Study Finds

Of 6.2 million men diagnosed, only 25.4% of them filled a prescription for a medical treatment.
Of 6.2 million men diagnosed, only 25.4% of them filled a prescription for a medical treatment.

Despite a high prevalence of erectile dysfunction (ED), only a quarter of men with the condition receive treatment for it, according to a recently published study.

A team led by Kevin T. McVary, MD, of Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield, used a commercial insurance database to identify 6.2 million men diagnosed with ED during a 12-month period ending June 2011.

Men who filled a prescription for a phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitor, injection or urethral prostaglandins, or androgen replacement therapy (ART) were considered treated and those who received an ED diagnosis but did not fill a prescription were considered untreated. Only 25.4% of the cohort was treated during the study period, Dr. McVary and his colleagues reported online ahead of print in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Among the treated men, the most commonly prescribed medical therapies were PDE5 inhibitors (75.2%), followed by ART either as monotherapy or in combination therapy (30.6%). Men older than 60 years were significantly less likely to be treated than men aged 50–59 years. Treatment frequency did not vary as a function of the number of co-morbidities, according to the researchers.

To the investigators' knowledge, this study is the first to report the frequency of associated ED medical therapies in a relatively large patient population.

“It has previously been assumed that a significant percentage of men suffer from ED and remain undiagnosed unless specifically questioned about this problem,” the researchers wrote. “Putatively, the most common reason for under-reporting of ED is patient embarrassment or decreased bother/severity. However, it has been shown that once the topic is initiated, patients become willing to discuss their potency issues.”

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