Wales see huge rise for erectile dysfunction prescriptions

erectile dysfunctionMen in Wales have clocked up nearly half a million prescriptions from GPs for erectile dysfunction medications such as Viagra in only two years, new figures reveal.

In total, men requiring treatment for impotence problems were handed a staggering 444,423 prescriptions for such issues during 2012 and 2013. This works out at one prescription for every three males over the age of 18 registered with GPs, according to statistics from the Wales health board.

It was found that Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board dispensed the largest amount of prescriptions at 89,577, whilst the lowest total number of scripts – just 17,507 – was dispensed in Powys.

Treatments for erectile dysfunction have cost the NHS in Wales millions of pounds and came in a variety of different means, such as tablets, capsules, injections and even urethral sticks.

For instance, Hywel Dda University Health Board faced a bill that came to in excess of £1.9m for the 57,325 prescriptions dispensed during January 2012 and November 2013.

Dr Noelle Robertson, a consultant clinical psychologist, argues more men with bedroom problems are now willing to seek help compared to previous times.

She says: “We talk in a more open way about sex – we have programmes on television like Embarrassing Bodies, so there’s perhaps a context where it’s more acceptable to present to your GP with difficulties. It’s not necessarily that the problem has grown bigger but perhaps that it has been under-reported and people have been reluctant to come forward in the past.”

Dr Robertson, employed as a senior lecturer at the University of Leicester, explained some of the factors that contribute to erectile dysfunction: “One of the major issues is performance anxiety. A common trigger for erectile problems can be transient ones like excessive use of alcohol or drugs so you get a failure on one occasion and then you become anxious at your failure. So it’s almost like the fear of the lack of performance – that can be quite marked.”

Other factors include the change in the dynamic of a couple’s relationship such as childbirth and parenthood, stress, job losses and bereavement, says Dr Robertson. She added that physical ailments that are linked to impotence problems include diabetes, chronic illness and neurological conditions.

Wales on Sunday’s relationship guru Sarah Symonds offered her thoughts, commenting: “We are a nation obsessed with sex, whether it’s Wales or the whole of the UK. If we are not talking about it we are watching it on TV – how to do it, why aren’t we doing it – and I think this is a knock-on effect of society.”

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