Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction--Part II

Options Range From Pills to Hand- and Battery-Operated Pumps

Joyce So, BSc
Sidney Radomski, MD, FRCSC
Urology, Toronto Western Hospital

Erectile dysfunction (ED), the persistent inability to attain or maintain a sufficient penile erection for sexual intercourse in at least 50% of attempts, afflicts more men and with greater severity as they age. A quarter of men who are 65 years of age struggle with erectile dysfunction, while more than half of 75-year-olds and 65% of 80-year-olds, experience difficulties with sexual function. Although age is the greatest risk factor associated with ED, it is not considered to be a part of the normal aging process. Physicians should encourage patients and their partners to discuss this problem so that appropriate treatment can be initiated.

Because ED often comprises both organic and psychogenic components, manage- ment of this problem can address both medical and psychological causes. The management of medical causes of ED includes oral therapy, intracavernosal injection therapy, intraurethral therapy, vacuum constriction devices, surgical options including penile prostheses, and various preparations of testosterone for men with diagnosed testosterone deficiency.

In March 1998, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved sildenafil (Viagra), in the United States as the first oral medication available for the treatment of erectile dysfunction in men. Soon after, it was also approved for use in Canada.