Diagnosis and treatment of erectile dysfunction

  • Laurence A Levine
    Requests for reprints should be addressed to Laurence A. Levine, MD, Department of Urology, Rush-Presbyterian–St. Luke’s Medical Center, 1725 West Harrison Street, Suite 920, Chicago, Illinois 60612
    Department of Urology, the Male Sexual Function and Fertility Program, Rush-Presbyterian–St. Luke’s Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois, USA
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  • Author Footnotes
    1 Laurence A. Levine, MD, is a researcher, consultant, and speaker for Pfizer, Inc.


      Up to 30 million men in the United States are affected by some degree of erectile dysfunction (ED). In the Massachusetts Male Aging Study (MMAS) 52% of men between 40 and 70 years of age were found to have some degree of ED. The MMAS and other studies also found that the likelihood of developing ED increases significantly with age. The vast majority of ED is primarily of organic and vascular cause, although psychological factors also play a role in most cases. ED has been shown to compromise overall quality of life and is associated with depression, anxiety, and loss of self-esteem. It may also signal serious underlying disease, including diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, questions regarding sexual functioning should be a routine part of the medical history. In the early 1990s, with the growing number of nonspecific and effective as well as less invasive tests, a new algorithm was developed that tailored evaluation to the treatment goals of the patient and his partner. This “goal-directed” approach simplifies the management of ED in the primary care setting; the availability of an effective oral agent, as well as a range of other therapeutic options, allows men with ED of all causes to receive effective treatment.
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