Monday, 18 March 2013

Men are routinely denied penile implants on the NHS

There is a peyronie's disease themed article in today's Daily Mail, a UK newspaper. Or rather it's in their online edition. Since it's so rare for men's health issues, especially peyronie's, to be covered by the mainstream media, I was both surprised to see it and impressed with the article itself. It tells the story of a 47 year old man named David who suffered from both peyronie's disease and erectile dysfunction and whose sex life was consigned to the past as a result of Viagra no longer working for him.

After a third referral (once again doctors proving that this condition is often beyond them) David received a diagnoses, only to be told that the potential long term solution to his woes, a penile implant costing a few thousands pounds, would not be paid for by the NHS. While the general public tend to appreciate that the NHS doesn't pay for cosmetic procedures, as this man points out, this is no such thing and is in fact the denial of treatment for a very real and troubling medical condition.  Eventually, out of desperation, the David took out a bank loan to pay for the implant.

The NHS does perform penile implants but only in the hundreds each year. As we hear all too often with the NHS there is a potluck or 'postcode lottery' aspect to getting treatment here, and that definitely comes across in this situation too. As is highlighted in the piece, 16,000 men have a radical prostatectomy each year, half of whom are then left with impotence issues. And this is before we even begin to think about all others suffering from erectile dysfunction problems via various mechanisms.

There really doesn't seem to be a plan when it comes to dealing with men's sexual health here in the UK, and often this is mirrored abroad too. Taking the prostatectomy issue alone, there are ways in which potential peyronie's disease scarring and impotence can be reduced off the bat ( see ' vacuum erection devices and  radical prostatectomies rehabilitation '). The medical professional needs to be far more pro active and up to speed to help patients get on top of  their situation before it even becomes a problem. Beyond that, surely there should be a structure of place to support men, both physically and psychologically, instead of leaving them in the cold at such a distressing and embarrassing time.

Says Dr Gordon Muir, a urologist at King’s College Hospital, London:
‘It seems perverse that women having breast cancer treatment can — rightly — have complex reconstructions on the NHS when a fundamental part of a male cancer patient’s identity can be ignored.'

You can read the full article here.

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