Get access

Couples' Reasons for Adherence to, or Discontinuation of, PDE Type 5 Inhibitors for Men with Erectile Dysfunction at 12 to 24-Month Follow-Up after a 6-Month Free Trial


Helen Conaglen, PhD, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Waikato Clinical School, Private Bag 3200, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand. Tel: +64 7 839 8710; Fax: +64 7 839 8712; E-mail:


Introduction.  The history of treatments for erectile dysfunction (ED) has involved a repeated pattern of uptake, followed by abandonment of the various therapies in the medium term. Even effective and simple to use medications are not necessarily continued; discontinuation rates range between 15% and 60%. Despite the association between partner sexual function and men's use of PDE5, no previous studies have reported any contact with partners of men taking PDE5 for their ED. This study involved both partners in couples followed up at least 1 year after treatment of ED.

Aim.  The study sought clarification of factors influencing adherence to, or discontinuation of, oral ED medications from couples. We hypothesized that many factors contribute to decision making about ED medication use at >12 months.

Main Outcome Measures.  The main outcome measures of this article were interviews and International Index of Erectile Function-erectile function domain.

Methods.  A total of 155 interviews were conducted seeking details of frequency of usage and preference for the drugs available; reasons for that choice, or for discontinuation of use, were also sought.

Results.  Of men interviewed, 71% were using PDE5 at 18 months. Most men interviewed were using the oral medications either 1–2x/week or 1–2x/month. Forty-four percent of men who had decreased their use of the medications reported less need for them. Thirty-four men said the main reason they were using less medication was cost. “Partner issues” from the men's perspective were seldom reported in this study. However, for a number of women, “partner issues” meant a range of problems from separation to alcohol abuse, lack of communication, and lack of confidence, or fear of failure.

Conclusions.  This is the first study to ask couples why they decided to continue or stop using PDE5 when followed up. Female partners provided a different perspective on “partner issues” often cited as reasons for discontinuing PDE5 use. It was also clear that discontinuation did not mean couples were no longer sexually active. Conaglen HM and Conaglen JV. Couples' reasons for adherence to, or discontinuation of, PDE type 5 inhibitors for men with erectile dysfunction at 12 to 24-month follow-up after a 6-month free trial. J Sex Med 2012;9:857–865.