Objectives: To evaluate erectile dysfunction (ED) using a validated self-administered 5-item questionnaire (5-item version of the International Index of Erectile Function [IIEF-5]) and the use of sildenafil in community-dwelling older men.
Methods: In October 1998, the IIEF-5 was mailed to all surviving members of an established community-based cohort of older men. The degree of ED was stratified by the erectile function domain score as complete (4 or less), severe (5 to 10), moderate (11 to 14), mild (15 to 18), or none (19 to 20). Men were also asked about sildenafil use and its effectiveness.
Results: A total of 976 men (64%) responded to the questionnaire. The internal consistency of the questionnaire construct was confirmed, with a Cronbach's alpha coefficient of 0.96 for all 5 questions. Eighty-nine percent of men younger than 50 years were sexually active compared with 37% of men older than age 80. Twenty-six percent of sexually active men reported complete (3%), severe (10.5%), or moderate (12.6%) ED. The prevalence of moderate or complete ED increased with age and was reported by 58% of men aged 75 to 79 years. Eleven percent of sexually active men had used sildenafil one or more times, with 63% reporting good or "terrific" effects and 11% reporting no benefit. The response to sildenafil deteriorated with age and increasing degree of ED.
Conclusions: The results of this community-based study confirm the strong correlation between advancing age and the prevalence and degree of ED, with 33% of men aged 75 and older reporting at least moderate ED. Nevertheless, more than 33% of men older than 75 years remained sexually active. Of the 660 sexually active men, 81% reported satisfaction with sexual intercourse; only 11% had tried sildenafil.