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J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2004 May;18(3):267-74.

Update on oral treatments for male erectile dysfunction.

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The Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research, The Cruciform Building, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK.


Impairment of erectile function compromises quality of life in millions of men and their partners, many of whom prefer to suffer in silence. It is important to maintain an elevated index of clinical suspicion in patients with erectile dysfunction (ED) risk factors (e.g. hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease). There remains a high rate of voluntary discontinuation of therapy associated with most treatment modalities. Since the introduction of sildenafil, a greater awareness and openness regarding the epidemiology and treatment of male erectile dysfunction has emerged. The development of newer and potentially more efficacious phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors will serve to treat an even greater number of patients, allowing once daily and more convenient dosing. An increased understanding of the physiological principles of penile erection has allowed the development of novel oral pharmacological therapies. The new agents offer a potential benefit in a broader range of patients and clinical situations. They may provide a more acceptable alternative than other more invasive options (intracavernosal/urethral injection, implant surgery). The dopamine agonist apomorphine acts on the central control of penile erection to allow a sublingual preparation to produce a prompt response. It is not contraindicated in patients on nitrate medication for coronary artery disease, or in patients with depression or on antidepressants. As with any other treatment, the clinician's responsibility in the care of ED patients does not end with the writing of a prescription. Adequate education and follow-up are needed to optimize the efficacy and safety of oral ED therapy. Furthermore, patients and their partners need to be advised that the agents are not effective in the absence of sexual stimulation. Communicating with both the patient and his partner in a discreet, non-judgmental manner that fosters the physician-patient alliance can facilitate the recognition and treatment of ED.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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