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Herz. 2003 Jun;28(4):314-24.

[New treatment options for erectile dysfunction. Pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic options].

[Article in German]

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Urologische Klinik am Universitätsklinikum Essen, Germany.


Erectile dysfunction is a medical condition that influences the sexual life of millions of men and women worldwide. Due to a large number of currently available drugs, the therapy of erectile dysfunction has changed profoundly during the last decades. The pharmacologic options are divided into initiators versus conditioners and central- or peripheral-acting drugs. Besides intraurethral and intracavernous application of prostaglandin E(1) (PGE(1), peripheral initiator)--a transdermal application is still in clinical testing--there are drugs for oral application. PGE(1), the vasoactive drug mainly used, was replaced by sildenafil in first-line-therapy. PGE(1), administered intracavernosally or intraurethrally, is highly effective with success rates up to 90%, but the attrition rate due to personal inconvenience remains significant. Yohimbine is known as a central amplifier of erection and is useful in psychogenic and mild organic erectile dysfunction. Apomorphine, a central initiator of erection, amplifies erectile response as a central dopamine agonist in mild and moderate erectile dysfunction and starts acting 15-20 min after sublingual application. The phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE-5) inhibitors sildenafil, vardenafil, and taldalafil are peripheral conditioners. Sildenafil, the most distributed oral agent worldwide, should be taken orally 60 min before sexual intercourse in combination with sexual stimulation. Sildenafil shows a high efficacy-safety profile with success rates for all etiologies between 50-80%. Paralleling nitrate-containing medication is an absolute contraindication. Vardenafil, another selective PDE-5 inhibitor with potentially higher selectivity and efficacy compared to sildenafil was just approved. The data from the clinical trials show the same adverse events and success rates as sildenafil. Tadalafil, just launched as well, amplifies erectile function for up to 24 h, allowing the patient to engage in sexual activity for this period. Adverse events and success rates resemble those of the other two substances. If medical treatment fails, there are nonpharmacologic options such as the vacuum constriction device and penile implants. The vacuum device is a safe and effective option for well-selected patients. Penile implants, especially the inflatable ones, completely imitate the physiologic erection. Due to recent research, infection rates and mechanical failures were minimized. Therefore penile implant surgery is well accepted by the patients and their partners. Despite this wide variety of options, therapy of erectile dysfunction should be performed in an individually adapted way. The patient's exact history, physical examination, collaboration of medical disciplines and choice of therapy will offer all patients the possibility to achieve or regain a satisfying sexual life.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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