JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Erection hardness: a unifying factor for defining response in the treatment of erectile dysfunction

John P Mulhall, Laurence A Levine, Klaus-Peter Jünemann
Urology 2006, 68 (3): 17-25
17011372
The extensive sildenafil citrate erectile dysfunction (ED) database of double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials was examined to determine the relation between erection hardness graded on the Erectile Hardness Grading Scale (EHGS) and (1) erectile function (EF), as assessed by the EF domain of the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF); (2) frequency of erections hard enough for penetration, as assessed by IIEF Q2; and (3) the percentage of successful sexual intercourse attempts according to patient event logs. Pooled data from 6549 men with ED provided strong proof and improved characterization of the response to sildenafil. Almost half of men with ED and a baseline IIEF EF domain score classified as "severe ED" (< or = 10) shifted to a score classified as "no ED" (> or = 26). Sildenafil recipients showed greater mean improvement from baseline to end point in IIEF Q2 scores versus placebo, regardless of baseline ED severity, and a higher mean percentage of successful sexual intercourse attempts occurred during the last 4 weeks of treatment versus placebo (5.4-fold vs 2.0-fold increase from baseline). At end point, 95% of men who scored "no ED" on the IIEF EF domain and 92% of men who reported "almost always/always" achieving an erection hard enough for penetration (IIEF Q2) had graded their erections hard (rigid) enough for penetration (grade 3) or completely hard and fully rigid (grade 4) during the last 4 weeks of treatment, suggesting that the IIEF EF domain and IIEF Q2 may be good surrogate end points for erection hardness. Furthermore, during the last 4 weeks of treatment, the percentage of grade 3 and/or 4 erections correlated positively with the percentage of successful sexual intercourse attempts. Hence, hard erections may be considered a unifying factor that defines response to ED treatment. Completely hard and fully rigid erections (grade 4) should be recognized as the optimal goal of an ED therapy. Evidence presented here demonstrates that sildenafil significantly improved EF as assessed by the IIEF EF domain and assessments of erection hardness in patients with ED; a dose-response relation was observed in the proportions of men with ED who graded their erections hard (rigid) enough for sexual penetration or completely hard and fully rigid.

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