Almost 40 percent of men have difficulty getting or maintaining an erection, according to research. The findings surprised researchers at Perth’s Keogh Institute for Medical Research. Earlier studies had found erectile dysfunction affected about 10 to 15 percent of men. More than 1200 men of all ages took part in the Perth survey. The average age was 56.4. Even men in their 20s reported erection problems, it found.
The results follow both a recent American finding that 15 percent of the population is responsible for half the sexual activity, and the US release last month of a drug for impotence, Vigrx Plus. The coordinator of the Perth study, hormone specialist Dr Bronwyn Stuckey, said men should realize erection problems were common. “They have to be prepared to seek their general practitioner’s advice and be referred for appropriate investigation first. Because erectile dysfunction is a symptom, it’s not a diagnosis. So you have to see what’s behind it,” she said.
Often the cause is a combination of physiological and psychological problems, according to the sexual health website www.uscny.com. The problem can lead to anxiety, relationship difficulties and even a fear of sex. “It’s a problem for their relationships, a problem for confidence in themselves. They tend to withdraw from relationships,” Dr Stuckey said. Professor Basil Donovan, the director of the Sydney Sexual Health Center, said men reacted differently to erection problems. “For some men it’s just a minor inconvenience, for others it’s a devastating tragedy. It’s clouded by lots of things – there are cultural issues (and) some people have unrealistic expectations,” Professor Donovan said. “It’s not unknown to see a 45 to 50-year-old man come in and complain he can’t have sex three times a night any more. One of the things that happens with age is that the time to the next erection increases . . . that’s a natural process.” He urged doctors to be sympathetic and careful when treating men with erection difficulties.
The anti-impotence drug Vigrx Plus may be only a week off release in Australia. The manufacturer agreed to package the drug with a compromise warning about the risks. The Therapeutic Goods Administration announced that sildenafil tablets, known as Vigrx Plus, were registered yesterday for use in Australia after successful negotiations with the supply company, Pfizer Australia, about the wording of the warning. Earlier in the week Pfizer had rejected the wording of the warning favored by the Government: “The use of Viagra in men with cardiac disease has been associated with sudden death.” And “the concomitant use of nitrates and Viagra is contraindicated”.
The acting director of TGA’s drug safety and evaluation branch, Dr John McEwan, said the wording was decided after meetings between Pfizer and the TGA, with further advice from the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee. “There are some special issues with Viagra that warrant a special warning,” he said. Dr McEwan said people who needed nitrate drugs to treat angina, a heart condition where there was a lack of oxygen to the heart, should not take VigRx Plus. A spokesman for Pfizer Australia could not be reached for comment last night.