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Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing

Viagra not a universal ‘cure-all’ for impotence in older men

8 April 2015

Research found that older men with erectile dysfunction (ED) who use Viagra or similar drugs continue to express concern or dissatisfaction with their sex lives according to a new study from The University of Manchester.

Two Viagra pills

“Our nationally-representative data shows that gains relating to sexual activity and function through drugs such as Viagra are not being reflected in lower levels of concern and dissatisfaction with sexual health and relationships, said Dr David Lee, Age UK Research Fellow and lead author. Dr Lee analysed the responses of more than 2,600 English men aged 50-87 years from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). 7% of respondents reported using Viagra or a similar drug to enhance their erections over the past three months, while 21% reported that they had untreated ED.

The research suggests that a purely drug-based solution is not a ‘cure-all’ for ED and that health professionals need to offer a more rounded approach to managing the condition. “We have an opportunity to improve treatment outcomes by ensuring that patients are well-informed and have realistic expectations, and by improving the assessment of psychological or relationship issues”, added Dr Lee. This is increasingly important given the rise in the volume of prescriptions since Viagra came off patent 2 years ago, with the cost to the NHS of purchasing the drug falling significantly.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “This research helps us to build a better understanding of older men’s concerns and needs around sexual health. It is important that providers of sexual health services understand the needs of older people in both clinical settings and when developing information and advice.”

The paper, entitled Erectile dysfunction and phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor use: associations with sexual activities, function and satisfaction in a population sample of older men, is published in the International Journal of Impotence Research.

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