BACKGROUND: Erectile dysfunction is common among older men; however, diagnosis and treatment compared to reported prevalence is low. We aim to identify the degree to which older men are offered treatment for the condition and determine the level of unmet need within Northern Ireland (NI).
METHODOLOGY: Analysis of data collected using a cross-sectional survey was conducted for men aged ≥60 years with data weighted to the NI population by age and deprivation. Respondents answered questions on sociodemographic factors, health-related characteristics, ability to function sexually, level of sexual interest and activity, and any treatment offered to improve erections in the last 3 years. Results are presented as proportions reporting treatment receipt, with differences by respondent characteristics assessed using chi-square tests and multivariable logistic regression.
RESULTS: Among 2597 respondents, 46.5% reported erectile dysfunction. One quarter (25.8%) recalled being offered either medication, devices, or specialised services to improve erections. The offer of treatment was associated with younger age, being separated or divorced, higher number of long-term conditions, and greater interest in sex. Of men reporting erectile dysfunction and offered medication, 28.8% found them helpful and currently use them.
CONCLUSIONS: As a result of not being offered treatment or not finding treatment useful, 93% of men reporting erectile dysfunction have no help with the condition. This is a likely consequence of treatment availability through the NHS in NI, but also suggests that healthcare professionals need to engage more proactively with older men, discussing sexual health routinely and following up those treated for the condition.