Erectile Dysfunction Treatment On The NHS

How Does NHS Erectile Dysfunction Treatment Compare to Elsewhere?

If you’re having difficulty getting or keeping erections strong enough for sex then you could benefit from erectile dysfunction treatment. A lot of treatments are covered by the NHS, but is erectile dysfunction one of them?

If you’re looking for erectile dysfunction treatment then you might think the NHS will give you the best deal, but it helps to check against the alternatives.

Dr Simran Deo Medical Editor

Medically reviewed by

Dr Simran Deo

Last reviewed: 22 Nov 2019

How Does Erectile Dysfunction Treatment on the NHS Work?

Getting erectile dysfunction treatment on the NHS works as follows:

You book an appointment in advance to see your GP

When you attend your appointment your GP will ask you some questions about your erectile dysfunction, and your health and lifestyle

If they think it’s appropriate to give you treatment they will give you one of 2 types of prescription for erectile dysfunction medication:

  • An NHS prescription – this means if you usually pay for your medications, you will only pay a standard prescription charge for your medication of £8.60. This is not available for all medications, for most people and only applies to people with certain other health conditions. With an NHS prescription your won’t have a choice of medication
  • A private prescription – this means you can get treatment but your will have to pay the full price of your medication. This prescription is for anyone who is eligible for erectile dysfunction treatment, but not eligible for an NHS prescription for it. You can get a private prescription for a wider range of medications than with an NHS prescription

Your GP may also discuss lifestyle changes to help you manage your erectile dysfunction

You will then need to take your prescription to a pharmacy to have it filled

What treatments are available? – at the moment, there are three types of medical ED treatment available with an NHS prescription:

Sildenafil (the unbranded version of Viagra) – the most commonly used and first choice treatment. This does not have prescribing restrictions and can be given with an NHS prescription

Moxisylyte hydrochloride (also known as Opilon) – sometimes available from secondary care (specialists)

Apomorphine hydrochloride – sometimes available from secondary care (specialists)

The NHS prescription range is limited by cost – the medications offered on NHS prescription are all unbranded. There is less choice offered on NHS prescriptions for erectile dysfunction treatment because branded medication is more expensive.

On private prescription – if your GP agrees, you can get wider range of medications on the NHS with a private prescription, but then you won’t necessarily be saving money compared to buying through another service. These medications include:

  • Cialis
  • Levitra
  • Spedra
  • NHS treatments that don’t involve medication include:
  • Penis pumps
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or psychotherapy for underlying psychological or emotional issues
  • Lifestyle advice (such as for your diet, smoking or drinking, and exercise)
  • Penile implants

Can I get an NHS Prescription for Erectile Dysfunction?

Who can get an NHS prescription for erectile dysfunction treatment? – you will only be considered for an NHS prescription for most medications if you have one of the following health conditions:

  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Diabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Polio
  • Prostate cancer or prostatectomy
  • Kidney failure
  • Major pelvic surgery
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Spina bifida
  • Certain genetic conditions, like Huntington’s disease

You can also get an NHS prescription if you are considered to be experiencing ‘severe mental distress’ as a result of erectile dysfunction. Your GP will refer you to a specialist to assess this. ‘Severe mental distress’ includes:

Significant disruption to normal social and occupational activity’ – i.e. affecting your work or social life

Marked effect on mood, behaviour, social and environmental awareness’ – i.e. changing the way that you feel, act, interact with people and the world, in a negative way

Marked effect on interpersonal relationships’ – i.e. negatively affecting your relationships with sexual or romantic partners, friends or others

What if I can't get an NHS prescription? – you could still be able to get your preferred treatment, but your GP would give you a private prescription instead. This just means you would pay full price for your medication instead of the NHS paying for part of it.

Can I get a private prescription instead? – you might be able to. Just because you can't get an NHS prescription doesn't mean you can't get treatment. You can get a private prescription for erectile dysfunction if you meet the following criteria:

  • You have erectile dysfunction
  • You don't have any health conditions that would make erectile dysfunction treatment unsafe
  • You aren't currently taking medications that would react with your erectile dysfunction medication

Is NHS Erectile Dysfunction Treatment the Cheapest/Easiest Option?

The NHS may not be the cheapest option for most people – Viagra is only cheapest on the NHS if you are eligible for an NHS prescription. Unbranded medications, such as Sildenafil are prescribed for people without having to adhere to the same treatment criteria. For most people who receive a private prescription for erectile dysfunction treatment, they will need to compare prices to find the cheapest way to get treatment.

The NHS may not be the quickest or easiest way to get treatment either – in order to get assessed for erectile dysfunction treatment you need to book to see your GP. For many people this means waiting for an available slot at their local surgery. Also, once you’ve received a prescription from your GP you would need to go to a pharmacy afterwards to get you medication.It is possible to get assessed much faster online and have your medication dispensed and delivered to your door for you using a service like and online doctor service.

Is NHS Erectile Dysfunction Treatment Right for Everyone?

NHS treatment won’t be the right option for everyone – it’s important to find treatments and services that work for you so the NHS might not be the one that suits you best.

NHS treatment can be right for people who:

  • Want a face-to-face consultation with their GP
  • Are able to access their GP easily
  • Aren’t looking for a range of medications to choose from
  • Can easily get their prescriptions filled

NHS treatment might not be right for people who:

  • Don’t want to discuss their erectile dysfunction with their GP
  • Find it hard to access their GP for appointments
  • Want to ensure their get the best price with a private prescription

Want more treatments options, including:

  • Medication you can take regularly, rather than planning before sex – Cialis Daily
  • A trial pack of medications so you can find the one that works best for you

Don’t have the time or don’t want to have to get their prescriptions filled in person

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Where Can You Get Erectile Dysfunction Treatment Other Than the NHS?

If you don’t think NHS erectile dysfunction treatment is right for you, there are other options – to avoid some of the downsides of NHS treatment, you could try using an online doctor service. Ours works as follows:

  • You complete a short online assessment for your erectile dysfunction – this includes the same questions you would be asked in an appointment with your GP
  • You request the treatment you think would suit you best
  • An GMC-registered online doctor checks your assessment as your GP would and if they think it’s right for you, they approve your treatment request
  • Your request is passed on to our Superdrug pharmacy team who dispense your medication for you
  • Your medication can then either be shipped to your door with free delivery, or you can choose to pick it up from your local Superdrug pharmacy

Some of the advantages of using an online doctor service include:

  • Instant access to an assessment for your erectile dysfunction – you don’t need to book in advance
  • No need to speak face-to-face to your regular GP
  • A wider range of treatment options available
  • Competitive prices for your treatment
  • No physical prescription – it's all eletronic
  • Only collect your medication in person if you want to

Why is Erectile Dysfunction Treatment on the NHS the Way it is?

It used to be very restricted – the first restrictions on medical ED treatments on NHS prescriptions were published in 1999. Since then, medical treatments for ED (like Viagra) were only available in very specific circumstances.

Restriction were relaxed only when cheaper medication became available – Viagra lost its patent protection in 2013 in the UK. After that, in 2014, the NHS changed its prescribing restrictions for the medication. This means that cheaper, unbranded (or generic) versions of the erectile dysfunction treatments became available.

The NHS doesn’t subsidise more expensive treatments – although there are advantages to other branded erectile dysfunction medications, the NHS will only offer medications that come in the generic form.

The government has made it easier to get erectile dysfunction treatment – a new prescription-free form of Viagra, Viagra Connect, became available in April to make it easier for more men to get treatment.

Sources

Patient Reviews