Non-invasive Management Options for Erectile Dysfunction When a Phosphodiesterase Type 5 Inhibitor Fails

Mary Lee, Roohollah Sharifi
Drugs & Aging 2018, 35 (3): 175-187
Phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (PDE5Is) are the drug of choice for medical management of erectile dysfunction (ED). On-demand PDE5Is have an overall efficacy of 60-70% for ED; 30-35% of patients fail to respond to a PDE5I, and 30-50% of non-responders can be salvaged with detailed counseling on proper use and physician follow-up to ensure that the patient has been prescribed an appropriate and full PDE5I clinical trial. True non-responders may be offered intracavernosal injections of erectogenic drugs, intraurethral alprostadil, or surgical insertion of a penile prosthesis. Such options are not discreet and are associated with more adverse effects than PDE5Is. Thus patients may request additional non-invasive medical management options. This review describes published literature on patients who failed to respond to an on-demand PDE5I regimen and were treated with a non-invasive PDEI-based regimen, including switching from one PDE5I to another; increasing the dose of PDE5I above the labeled dosage range; using two PDE5Is concurrently; using a daily PDE5I regimen; or combining a PDE5I with a testosterone supplement, α-adrenergic antagonist, intraurethral or intracavernosal alprostadil, vacuum erection device, or low-intensity shock wave therapy. The limitations of published clinical trials do not allow for sufficient evidence to recommend one option over another. Therefore, in PDE5I-refractory patients, the choice of a specific next step should be individualized based on the preference of the patient and his sexual partner, the advantages and disadvantages of the various options, the concurrent medical illnesses and medications of the patient, and the patient's response to treatment.

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