Herbal treatments for erectile dysfunction sold by Internet websites

Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is a common and distressing condition affecting an increasing number of men. It is estimated that almost 30 million men in the United States and between two to three million men in the UK suffer from Impotence. According to the American Urological Association clinical guidelines, ED is defined as “the inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual intercourse.” The growing incidence of erectile dysfunction is related primarily to a growing aging population worldwide, a rise in prevalence of risk factors (e.g. Diabetes and cardiovascular disease) and in increase in the treatment for prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Western men and Impotence is a common side effect of treatment. Despite the numbers of men affected by erectile dysfunction is estimated that 90% of ED sufferers are still reluctant to visit their GP because of embarrassment.

The Internet is now the most readily accessible and easiest methods for accessing medical information and treatments for ED by the public. Various studies have shown that over 50% of United Kingdom has access to the Internet and up to 65% of users were seeking health or medical information. Many websites both illegal and regulated now offer an Online Doctor service to address health and medical issues in conjunction with the sale of products that may alleviate health problems and diseases. Online Doctors now can prescribe prescription-only drugs after a medical consultation online. Between 1990 and 1997, there was a 380% increase in the use of herbal remedies and in 2001 over half the population of America were regularly taking herbal supplements.

Herbal treatments are health supplements. Since Viagra (sildenafil) was first introduced as an effective tablet treatment for ED by Pfizer in 1998, there has been a rise in the sale of herbal substitutes of Viagra on the Internet. Many websites, due to Viagra being such a well established brand name, use the term “Herbal Viagra” to advertise their treatments for ED. However the safety of herbal treatments purchased from the Internet is in doubt. Specifically, the quality and reliability of medical information provided by websites providing herbal treatments for ED is unknown.

Conclusion: Acquiring medical information regarding ED and purchasing treatments such as Herbal Viagra from the Internet is convenient and easy however the safety and reliability of such websites and treatments are poor. Websites not accredited by the Care Quality Commission or offshore Online Doctor websites should be used by patients with caution, especially when used to acquire Herbal Erectile Dysfunction treatment. 

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