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Directions in Science | Open Access
New Biochemical Pathway May Control Erection
Thirty million men in the U.S. suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED) defined by their inability to achieve or maintain a penile erection sufficient for intercourse. An unestimated number of women also suffer from sexual dysfunction resulting from many of the same causes that lead to ED in men. There are a variety of treatments available for ED including intracavernosal injection, transurethral therapy, surgery, vacuum therapy, and oral medication. Unfortunately, not all patients benefit from these currently available forms of therapy, and side effects are not uncommon. Sildenafil (Viagra) has been a highly successful drug for the treatment of ED but it does not work in all men . Some may experience a variety of side effects, and Viagra is contraindicated to some cardiac medications. These problems point to the need for new and different approaches to the treatment of sexual problems.