Introduction Erectile dysfunction (ED) may affect up to half of men in their lifetime. Barriers can prevent discussion of symptoms with their GP and on occasions they will present at GUM clinics. Understanding these barriers can be useful in assessing their experiences and expectations of treatment.
Methods Anonymous self-administered questionnaire issued to new patients attending ED clinic. The Sexual Health Inventory for Men (SHIM) score used to classify ED severity.
Results 75 patients with median age of 52 years (range 19–78 years) participated. 93% had significant co-morbidities or vascular risk factors. In regard to SHIM, 47% classified as severe ED, 16% moderate, 26% mild-moderate and 11% mild. Duration of ED prior to attendance was greater than 5 years in 53% of patients. 50% reported significant impact on quality of life and notably 40% had underlying depression and/or anxiety. Seeking treatment was important/very important in 96%. Relationship difficulties prompted 65% patients to seek help. Barriers to seeking treatment included embarrassment in 47% and lack of treatment awareness in 29%. Initial discussion about ED was prompted by the patient in 85%. Regarding support, 73% discussed the issue with their partner and 16% with a friend/relative. 7% self-sourced treatment prior to attendance. The majority of patients (88%) reported limited knowledge of ED with 77% suggesting patient information leaflets would be useful prior to clinic attendance.
Discussion Patients presenting with ED often delay seeking advice. Medical comorbidities, relationship difficulties and embarrassment are significant issues affecting patients which should be taken into consideration during consultations.
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