Can Your Doctor Treat Your ED?

Can Your Doctor Treat Your ED? - It's hard enough to talk about sexual matters to anyone, much less your physician. So it would seem important for your doctor to have the tools to help you communicate and understand a sexual problem when it arises, and to lay out your options for treatment.

The problem is that many if not most general practice physicians do not feel comfortable treating and prescribing treatments for erectile dysfunction (ED) in their male patients. Sexual problems in female patients are even more problematic because there are no FDA-approved drugs for their conditions, and most doctors are reluctant to prescribe off-label for sexual disorders.

A new study conducted in Israel attempted to learn why most general practice physicians are not able to help their patients with their sexual problems. The researchers ran a one-day sexual dysfunction education program for physicians there to see whether it would change their treatment and prescription behaviors.

The study compared doctors' prescribing habits for PDE5 inhibitors (Viagra, Cialis, Levitra) - the medications most commonly used to treat ED - before and after the training program, and with that of other doctors who did not take the education program.

Among the interesting findings of the study are that doctors are reluctant to treat ED not because they lack the knowledge. Rather, they felt they lacked the appropriate communication skills to be able to talk comfortably and in detail about their patients' sexual concerns.

And compared with their pre-program prescribing rates over a three-month period, the trained doctors increased their prescriptions for PDE5 inhibitors by 31 percent in the quarter following the training, and by 41 percent compared to non-participants during that same period. There were no differences in rates of prescription prior to the program.

The authors conclude that exposure to training in sexual health treatments as brief as one day can markedly shift both the attitudes and prescription behavior of doctors. This has important implications for prescribing doctors and physician educators in this emerging field of medicine, and for patients who deserve to know about treatments for their sexual problems ( )

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