Much more than prescribing a pill… Assessment and treatment of Erectile Dysfunction by the general practitioner

Erectile dysfunction is a common but often neglected condition. Prevalence increases with age, but is not insignificant in younger men.

This article will broadly describe the epidemiology, classification and risk factors of erectile dysfunction. It will also discuss assessment and current treatment modalities, with a particular focus on the unique role of the general practitioner (GP).

Erectile dysfunction may be classified as vasculogenic, neurogenic, endocrinological, drug-related, psychogenic or mixed. Commonly, erectile dysfunction is a cause of anxiety and even depression. Risk factors, such as smoking and hypertension, and reversible causes, such as hypogonadism or offending medications, should be addressed. At present, oral pharmacotherapy represents the first-line option for most patients with erectile dysfunction. It is of utmost importance to evaluate and treat comorbidities, such as depression, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, that often accompany erectile dysfunction. Patients will undoubtedly benefit from comprehensive management by a dedicated GP. Occasionally, referral to a urologist, psychologist or sexual health physician may be required.

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