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Clinicians 'should ask about erectile dysfunction'


Routinely asking patients if they have any sexual health concerns could give clinicians an early warning of other health problems, according to the British Society for Sexual Medicine (BSSM).

The question could also help clinicians approach social issues including relationship breakdown, experts have said. It would not put any further financial pressure on health services and correct diagnosis could help save money in the long term, according to the BSSM.

Reducing the instances where patients are inappropriately prescribed sometimes expensive drugs that do not tackle their problem could save money, said sexual health specialist Dr Geoff Hackett, from the Good Hope Hospital in Birmingham.

Routinely asking men about erectile dysfunction could help identify those with potential heart problems and it is already recognised as an early warning of coronary artery issues, Dr Hackett said at a BSSM briefing in central London.

Low testosterone also increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, he said, adding that diagnosing erectile dysfunction was seen as an important window for intervening.

The BSSM also stressed that healthy sexual function is important to a person’s general wellbeing and undiagnosed problems could lead to conditions such as depression.

Dr Hackett, who has worked in the field for more than 20 years, said: “A lot of women and men with sexual problems do present with depression and are often treated inappropriately”.



Readers' comments (2)

  • Great idea but will it achieve anything?

    Erectile disfunction in society is seen as a bit of a joke and isn't always taken seriously by people.

    Men's Health issues have for years been seen as secondary to that of women. How easy is it for men to be tested for prostate cancer, are there any prevention or early warning programmes in operation as there, quite rightly are, for breast and cervical cancer, to tackle this killer disease at an early stage?

    Men are their own worse enemy, in that they tend to be more reluctant or it is more difficult for them to visit their GP's for a number of reasons.

    In the past good employers have provided extremely good Occupational Health Services which have helped to make it much easier for men to have health checks without it impinging on their need to avoid extra time off.

    In the current economic climate these departments are now taking a bit of a hit which is likely to further reduce the opportunities for such health checks.

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  • As a nurse in primary care I'm all for trying to identify these men and assess CVD risk the evidence is over whelming , what I have a problem with is when we have encouraged them to come forward we then I have to tell them they have to pay for there treatment unless they are one of the lucky few who get tx on the NHS.

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