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Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

Why The UK Is The First In The World To Widen ED Treatment Access

by Dr Don Grant (MB ChB DRCOG MRCGP Dip Orth Med)

Dr Don Grant is a GP with over 30 years experience and is the Clinical Advisor at The Independent Pharmacy

A landmark decision reached by the MHRA back in November 2017 means that erectile dysfunction treatment, Viagra Connect (sildenafil 50mg), is now available to buy in all licensed pharmacies nationwide in the UK. The UK is the first place in the world where something like this has been made possible. 


The stigma surrounding ED

The most common symptoms of erectile dysfunction (ED) include difficulty getting or sustaining an erection or experiencing reduced levels of sexual desire. 

Men with ED often view their condition as a sign of weakness and usually feel discouraged to seek professional help or guidance. As many men who have impotence also feel embarrassed about coming forward and having a face-to-face conversation with their GP, many seek solace through purchasing unlicensed ED pills online which carries plenty of risks. 

It’s important for both men and women to educate themselves in the signs and symptoms of ED in the name of men’s wellbeing, a healthy relationship, and receiving professional, tailored treatment for a common condition.


The causes of ED

Research from The Journal of Sexual Medicine suggests that one in four men under the age of 40 experience ED, with 50% of men between the ages 40 and 70 thought to experience impotence at some point. The condition affects more people than many assume, with a rising number of young men reported to be suffering from ED. 

There are a variety of possible causes of ED spanning the physical, psychological, and medicinal.

Physiological causes cover several areas including anatomical conditions, such as Peyronie’s disease; hormonal conditions, such as hypogonadism; vascular conditions, such as high blood pressure; and neurogenic conditions, such as Parkinson’s. 

Psychological causes are often to blame too, with stress, depression, and anxiety playing a part. Also, nervousness and other emotional issues about how you perform sexually can lead to ED.

Of course, impotence is also a side effect of many medicines, including beta blockers, antihistamines, and antidepressants.

It’s clear that ED is a genuine medical condition (no matter how many myths there are), and no amount of “miracle” pills will address the root cause and treat it effectively. 


The medication available

There are a broad range of medical treatments available for ED, (including pills and creams), with some men also being offered therapy and counselling. It all depends on what’s causing your ED in the first place.

A commonly sought-after medication is Viagra (sildenafil citrate 50mg), which up until recently, was only available by prescription.

However, in November 2017, following a consultation with the Commision on Human Medicines, the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) chose to reclassify Viagra Connect from a prescription-only medicine to a pharmacy medicine. This was to make treatment for impotence more widely available to deter men from buying ED medication from questionable sources online. 

The UK is the first nation in the world to make such a progressive decision. Creator of Viagra Connect, Pfizer, and high-street pharmacy, Boots, launched an exclusive deal which saw the drug retailing to the public on the 27th March 2018. 

As of 16th April 2018, Viagra Connect is now available to purchase from all licensed pharmacies across the UK, both in-store and online. The coated pills will retail at £5 per tablet and sold in packets of four or eight.

Other than Viagra, you can get similar PDE5 inhibitor pills such as Cialis (tadalafil), LevitraSpedra or Sildenafil (all prescription only right now). There are also penis pumps and creams on the market. 


Receiving the right treatment for your ED

Instead of taking a trip to the GP to procure Viagra, men now only need to speak to a pharmacist. Men don’t need a physical examination, but they should expect to be asked a series of questions as pharmacists need to make sure that Viagra Connect is the right treatment for them - the same as your GP traditionally would.

It’s not difficult to imagine how awkward someone with ED might feel about undergoing a face-to-face consultation about their condition, even if it is with a professional. If the idea of a face-to-face conversation makes men feel uncomfortable, an alternative is conversing with an online pharmacy which will help maintain privacy around ordering Viagra Connect.


If you think you might be suffering from ED, speak to your local pharmacy today, or talk with one of our healthcare team by telephone or email to see if Viagra Connect may be the erectile dysfunction treatment for you. No one should suffer in silence.

Authored By:

A photo of Dr Donald Grant

Dr Donald Grant

MB ChB DRCOG MRCGP Dip.orth.med

Published on: 11-06-2018

Last modified on: 11-06-2018

Dr Don Grant is a GP with over 30 years experience and is the Clinical Advisor at The Independent Pharmacy

Reviewed By:

A photo of  Andy Boysan

Andy Boysan


Reviewed on: 11-06-2020

Next review date: 11-06-2022

Andy is a co-founder, the superintendent pharmacist and director at The Independent Pharmacy.

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