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Keywords:

  • Erectile dysfunction;
  • impotence;
  • male ageing;
  • worldwide projections;
  • health policy;
  • priorities

Objectives

To project the likely worldwide increase in the prevalence of erectile dysfunction (ED) over the next 25 years, and to identify and discuss some possible health-policy consequences using the recent developments in the UK as a case study.

Methods

Using the United Nations projected male population distributions by quinquennial age groups for 2025, the prevalence rates for ED were applied from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study (MMAS) to calculate the likely incidence of ED. The MMAS has the advantage of being the first study to provide population-based rates rather than rates based on clinical samples. All the projections were age-adjusted.

Results

It is estimated that in 1995 there were over 152 million men worldwide who experienced ED; the projections for 2025 show a prevalence of ≈322 million with ED, an increase of nearly 170 million men. The largest projected increases were in the developing world, i.e. Africa, Asia and South America.

Discussion

The likely worldwide increase in the prevalence of ED (associated with rapidly ageing populations) combined with newly available and highly publicized medical treatments, will raise challenging policy issues in nearly all countries. Already under-funded national health systems will be confronted with unanticipated resource requests and challenges to existing government funding priorities. The projected trends represent a serious challenge for healthcare policy makers to develop and implement policies to prevent or alleviate ED.