Erectile dysfunction

Updated 02 March 2017

9 facts on erectile dysfunction

Many myths do the rounds about erectile dysfunction. Here are some of the facts everyone should know.


Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a condition that affects 100 million men worldwide and this number is set to double by the year 2025, according to Dr Raymond Rosen, Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine and Director of the Human Sexuality Programme at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey, USA.

But it is a condition shrouded in secrecy, and the vast majority of men who have ED never seek any treatment.

Some interesting facts about ED:

  • ED is a highly prevalent and undertreated disease with a significant impact on total health.
  • ED is not an overtreated condition, despite media representations. On the contrary, studies have revealed that 90% of those suffering from ED, never go for treatment.
  • The expected increase in the number of men who suffer from ED is the direct result of ageing populations, unhealthy eating habits, the earlier onset of diabetes and obesity and stress.
  • In studies worldwide, the incidence of ED is never less than 10% and often as high as 30%, depending on who took part in the study.
  • ED is a barometer of cardiovascular health.
  • PDE 5 drugs can be used for men with spinal cord injuries. The higher up the spinal cord injury, the better the drug response, according to Dr. Rosen.
  • In a US survey, it was found that 71% of participants never raised the issue of ED with their doctors, because they thought they would dismiss sexual concerns. 68% feared the doctor would be embarrassed and 76% thought there would be no medical treatment available.
  • When on phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE 5) type drugs, men do not have a constant erection – they are merely responsive to sexual stimulus. These drugs have an 80% effectiveness in treating ED.
  • PDE 5 drugs, when taken in conjunction with illegal drugs such as 'poppers' (nitro-glycerine or TNT tablets) or ecstasy tablets, can cause hypotension (low blood pressure), and possibly death.

Dr Raymond Rosen, Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine and Director of the Human Sexuality Programme at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey, USA.

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Erectile Dysfunction Expert

Dr Kenny du Toit is a urologist practicing in Rondebosch, Cape Town. He is also consultant at Tygerberg hospital, where he is a senior lecturer at Stellenbosch University. He is a member of the South African Urological Association, Colleges of Medicine South Africa and Société Internationale d’Urologie. Board registered with both the HPCSA (Health professions council of South Africa) and GMC (General medical council UK). He has a keen interest in oncology, kidney stones and erectile dysfunction.

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